The first course of action when deciding how to treat a swollen foot, also known as edema, is to determine the cause. Swelling of a foot can be due to an injury, such as a sprain, strain or broken bone or a bite from an insect or animal. Basic treatment for a swollen foot does not address any underlying causes and can be recalled by using the acronym, RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation.
Medical conditions, such as diabetes, or swelling stemming from simple gravity such as after long periods of standing generally affect both feet and may require additional treatment.
Things You'll Need
- Bed, couch or recliner
Lie down and get plenty of rest after a foot injury or accident. Injured ligaments, tendons and muscles need rest in order to heal. Don't try to walk on an injured foot. Pain is nature's way of saying something is wrong.
Apply ice to an injured foot as soon as possible to keep swelling to a minimum. Apply a cloth-covered ice pack or bag of frozen vegetable (like peas) to the injured area for no more than 20 minutes at a time. Reapply four to eight times per day.
Apply compression. Compression will keep fluid from pooling in the leg and foot. Wearing compression stockings or socks can help. Wrap the foot lightly with a bandage to help prevent swelling.
Elevate the swollen foot. Lie back on a couch, bed or recliner and prop the injured foot up above the level of the heart. Using pillows or a wedge can help.
Tips & Warnings
- Some causes of a swollen foot have a medical cause that needs to be evaluated by a medical professional. See a doctor if swelling persists or if you have edema accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain or fever.