Swollen Feet After Sitting: 10 Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment (2024)

Have you every noticed swollen feet after sitting for a long time? Well, you are not alone. In fact, this is a common problem. Sometimes, the swelling can be a sign of danger, but usually it is not. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to improve the swelling easily.

Causes of swollen feet after sitting

There are many potential causes for swollen feet. Some are more specific for swelling that happens after prolonged sitting. Here is a list of a few of them:

Dependent edema

This is the most common cause of swollen feet after sitting. Many have not heard of dependent edema before. It is fluid collects in your legs after periods when you are not moving. It is a result of the effects of gravity. For some people it starts at a certain point in life even if it did not exist before. A common example are swollen ankles after flight. Of course, this makes sense if you think about it. Most of us don’t move around much during flight. Also, the cabin pressure is low during flight and that makes the swelling worse.

Leaky vein valves can cause swollen feet after sitting

Veins are supposed to carry blood from the feet back to the heart. Most of the time veins work against gravity. To allow this there are valves inside veins. If these valves malfunction there is pressure buildup in the ankles. This can result in ankle swelling. The swelling is most severe when the feet are down. When you sit for a long time, your legs are down for a long time. This is why people with leaky vein valves get swollen feet after sitting for a long time. Another name for this is venous insufficiency.

Here is a short clip to show you what leaky valves look like when we look with ultrasound:

Blood clot in the veins

The most dangerous cause of leg swelling is a blood clot. Usually the clot will be on one side. Usually there will be other symptoms such as pain. But that is not necessary. If you suspect a clot you should seek medical attention.

Pressure on Veins

Veins drain fluid and pressure away from the feet. Compressed veins do not work efficiently. Tight clothing is something to avoid if you suffer from swollen feet after sitting. But in some people a tumor may be compressing the veins. It is important that your doctor thinks about this if your swelling is new.

Bonus Cause: History of a Blood Clot

If you’ve experienced a blood clot in the past, that could explain your swelling today. This is because blood clots damage veins. People who had a blood clot could develop a condition called post phlebitic syndrome. Swelling is a symptom of post phlebitic syndrome. Also, the swelling could be a result of leftover clot causing elevated pressure in the veins. This is called residual clot. Or, it could be because of leaky veins. This is called venous insufficiency.

Medications that Contributes to Swollen Feet After Sitting

Certain common and less common medications cause swollen feet. Some blood pressure pills called “calcium channel blockers” are known to cause swelling in many people. An example is amlodipine / Norvasc. Steroids may also cause swelling in the feet. The swelling these medications cause can present first while sitting.


Neuropathy in the feet means that the small nerves in the feet do not work properly. Nerves have many roles in our body. One of these roles is to keep tension on blood vessels. Sometimes neuropathy results in swollen feet. This is similar to dependent edema.

Too much fluid in the body

Some medical conditions are linked to too much fluid in the body. Examples include heart failure and kidney malfunction. Fluid goes to gravity. So often the fluid will go to the legs. This can result in leg swelling. Sometimes the swelling starts to appear after periods of sitting.

Too much pressure in the body

Some medical conditions cause too much pressure in the body. If there is too much pressure in the lungs, that pressure might translate to the feet through the heart. Sleep apnea is a very common and under-diagnosed condition that can cause swollen feet. Other lung conditions like COPD can also affect the pressures in the heart and cause swollen feet.


Swollen legs during pregnancy are common. There are many reasons for this. First, the hormonal changes of pregnancy result in fluid and salt retention. Also, the uterus presses on the veins. This results in less efficient circulation. Many pregnant women also develop varicose veins. Finally, some pregnant women move less. This can make the swelling even worse.

Solutions for Swollen Feet after Sitting

The solution for swollen feet or leg swelling depends on the cause. The first step is to identify the specific reason for the swelling. Once the reason is identified, it should be treated. Here are a few examples. Many of them are also relevant to swollen ankles after flight:

  • Moving around – Walking actually removes fluid from our feet. Even if you have a lot of work to do sitting down, getting up is good for you. The benefits of getting up go beyond your feet. Getting up will help with swollen ankles and feet. But it is also good for your heart and for your weight. For some leg swelling after sitting is an excuse not to get up. They might say “my legs feel heavy and walking is hard”. To those I say: Move. Walking will likely benefit you the most!
  • Changing your diet – Salt is not good for our health. Too much salt is linked to high blood pressure and other problems. Too much salt is also linked to swollen feet after sitting. Cutting back on salt may help with the swelling.
  • Compression stockings – Sometimes light compression stockings can help prevent swollen feet. You can buy compression stockings at a specialty store or onlineSwollen Feet After Sitting: 10 Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment (4).
  • Blood thinners – If the cause of the swollen feet is a blood clot, the solution is blood thinning. This is not something to deal with on your own. Discuss this option with your doctor.
  • Water pills – If there is too much fluid in your body, water pills can help remove it. Water pills do not help with every kind of leg swelling. So if they do not help you talk to your doctor about stopping them.

Finally, you may want to learn more about some of the reasons for swollen legs. Dr. Michael Jaff offers an overview in this video:

Swollen Feet After Sitting: 10 Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment (5)

Staff Writer

Swollen Feet After Sitting: 10 Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment (2024)


What is best to drink for swollen feet? ›

Drink Lots of Water.

Make sure you consume the recommended 8-12 glasses of water a day to help rid your system of excess sodium and other waste that can attribute to swelling. Keeping a water bottle with you at all times, helps make it easier to drink more!

How do you fix swollen feet from sitting? ›

Home Care
  1. Put your legs on pillows to raise them above your heart while lying down.
  2. Exercise your legs. ...
  3. Follow a low-salt diet, which may reduce fluid buildup and swelling.
  4. Wear support stockings (sold at most drugstores and medical supply stores).
  5. When traveling, take breaks often to stand up and move around.

What illness is associated with swollen feet? ›

Swelling of the feet could be a sign of heart disease or heart failure. If the heart is damaged, it cannot pump blood to the heart efficiently. Right-sided heart failure can cause the body to retain salt and water, resulting in swollen feet.

Will drinking more water help with edema? ›

If you have mild edema, you may be able to manage it with lifestyle changes like drinking more water, changing your diet, and staying active. Other causes of edema, though, require medical treatment. Acute swelling is common after an injury. It happens due to the physical trauma and the healing process.

What reduces swelling in feet fast? ›

Here are 10 to try.
  1. Drink enough water. Getting enough fluids can help reduce swelling. ...
  2. Use compression socks. ...
  3. Soak in a cool Epsom salt bath for about 15–20 minutes. ...
  4. Raise your feet, preferably above your heart. ...
  5. Get moving! ...
  6. Magnesium-rich foods and supplements. ...
  7. Reduce salt intake. ...
  8. Manage your weight.
Jul 10, 2023

What vitamin is good for swelling feet? ›

Vitamin B-1, also known as Thiamine, is the vitamin that helps your body digest carbs and makes new red blood cells. When you don't have enough B-1 in your diet, you can develop edema. Edema is a condition where your body swells with fluid. Vitamin B-1 deficiency can also cause pain in the lower legs and feet.

What stage of heart failure are swollen feet? ›

At what stage of heart failure does edema happen? Swollen feet can happen at any stage of heart failure, but worsening edema may mean that heart failure is becoming more severe.

What autoimmune disease causes swelling in feet? ›

Palindromic rheumatism (PR) is an autoimmune related disease characterized by sudden, multiple, and recurring attacks of joint pain and swelling, typically in the hands and feet. Each episode may last from several hours to several days.

What deficiency causes feet swelling? ›

Magnesium. A magnesium deficiency can cause water retention and swelling. Magnesium-rich foods could be a tasty solution to swelling in the feet in that case. Magnesium-rich foods include dark chocolate, nuts and seeds, milk, yogurt, greens, and legumes.

Do bananas help swollen feet? ›

Remember to stay hydrated and limit your salt intake to prevent water retention. Are bananas good for swelling feet? Yes, bananas can help reduce swelling in the feet by maintaining proper electrolyte balance and providing vitamin B6 for nerve and skin health.

What makes swelling go down fast? ›

Lifestyle and home remedies
  • Use pressure. If edema affects an arm or leg, wearing compression stockings, sleeves or gloves might help. ...
  • Move. Moving and using the muscles in the part of the body that's swollen, especially the legs, might help move fluid back toward the heart. ...
  • Raise. ...
  • Massage. ...
  • Protect. ...
  • Reduce salt.
Jul 28, 2023

What foods should you avoid when you have swollen feet? ›

Avoid high-sodium foods, processed foods, unhealthy fats, and high-sugar beverages to avoid fluid retention. What not to eat for swollen feet? Limit high-sodium, processed foods, unhealthy fats, and high-sugar beverages that can exacerbate swelling in the feet.

Do bananas help with swollen feet? ›

Remember to stay hydrated and limit your salt intake to prevent water retention. Are bananas good for swelling feet? Yes, bananas can help reduce swelling in the feet by maintaining proper electrolyte balance and providing vitamin B6 for nerve and skin health.

What tea is good for swollen feet? ›

To help combat swollen feet, even more, replace your morning cup of coffee with some chamomile or peppermint tea. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it increases how often you use the bathroom.

What not to eat if you have swollen feet? ›

Foods that are regularly eaten such as processed, refined, and salted may increase the chances of developing swollen feet. Foods that are made with a large amount of sugar and fats such as vegetable oil may also be linked to having swollen feet.


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