Symptoms A-Z

Painful Foot Swelling Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand your painful foot swelling symptoms, including 10 causes and common questions.

An image depicting a person suffering from painful foot swelling symptoms

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Contents

  1. 10 Possible Painful Foot Swelling Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics

10 Possible Painful Foot Swelling Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced painful foot swelling. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Posterior tibialis tendinopathy

The posterior tibialis tendon attaches the calf muscle to the bones on the underside of the foot. It provides stability and arch support. If this tendon is damaged, the result may be a flat, unstable foot.

Posterior tibialis tendinopathy is most often a sports injury, where the tendon becomes inflamed or torn through overuse or high impact.

Symptoms include pain down the ankle and into the foot, sometimes with swelling. The pain becomes worse with any activity, even standing or walking. When standing, the patient's arch will be collapsed and flat and the front of the foot will point outward. The patient will be unable to stand on the injured foot and raise the heel.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and imaging such as x-ray, CT scan, or MRI.

Treatment involves rest, over-the-counter pain relievers, orthotics (shoe pads,) braces, and sometimes steroid injections into the damaged tendon. Surgery can be tried, but tends to be complex and cannot always restore the tendon completely.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: swollen foot, pain in one foot, limping, pain in one ankle, spontaneous ankle pain

Symptoms that never occur with posterior tibialis tendinopathy: recent cutting accident

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Gout

Gout is a form of arthritis that causes sudden pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint. The big toe is often affected.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: swollen toes

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Ankle arthritis

Arthritis simply means inflammation of the joints. Because the feet and ankles have many small joints and carry the weight of the body, they are often the first place that arthritis appears.

Arthritis is caused by a breakdown in the protective cartilage at the end of each joint, so that the bones begin to wear against each other and the joint becomes stiff and painful. This breakdown may be due to simple wear and tear; an injury; or from rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition which causes the body to break down its own cartilage.

Symptoms include swelling, warmth, and redness in the joint, and pain with movement or with pressure on the joint.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and imaging such as x-rays, CT scan, or MRI.

There is no cure for arthritis, but treatment is important because the symptoms can be managed to prevent further damage, ease pain, and improve quality of life. Treatment involves physical therapy, pain-relieving medications, and sometimes surgery to help repair damaged joints.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: swollen ankle, swollen foot, joint stiffness, pain in one ankle, ankle stiffness

Urgency: Self-treatment

Foot sprain

A foot sprain is damage to ligaments within the foot. The term "sprain" refers to overstretching or tearing of ligaments — the strong, fibrous bands of tissue that hold the bones together within the joints. Foot sprains are usually sports or dance injuries. Any sort of running movement that involves sud...

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Ankle sprain

Ankle ligaments, which connect bones to one another, stabilize the ankle joint. A sprain is an injury to the ligaments caused by a twisting motion of the joint.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: pain in one ankle, ankle pain from an injury, swollen ankle, bruised ankle, ankle twisting

Symptoms that always occur with ankle sprain: pain in one ankle, ankle pain from an injury

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

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Lymphangitis

Lymphangitis is a condition resulting in inflamed lymphatic vessels due to an infection. The lymphatic system runs throughout the body and consists of both nodes and these vessels. The nodes produce lymph — the clear fluid that bathes and nourishes the organs and other tissues — while the vessels cir...

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Jones fracture (broken foot)

A Jones Fracture is a fracture of a bone on the outside of the foot (called the fifth metatarsal). A Jones fracture can be either a stress fracture (a tiny hairline break that develops with time), or a sudden break due to trauma. This can result in pain, swelling, and tenderness on the outside of the foot.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: difficulty walking, constant foot pain, pain in one foot, foot bruise, foot injury

Symptoms that always occur with jones fracture (broken foot): foot pain from an injury, pain when touching the foot, constant foot pain, pain in the front half of the foot, pain in the outside of the foot

Urgency: In-person visit

Calcaneus fracture

Calcaneus fractures occur when a force that is stronger than the calcaneus itself is applied to the bone. Calcaneus fractures are rare, although they are the most commonly fractured tarsal bone. These fractures can occur in many different situations, but most commonly occur in high-...

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Fracture of the talus

A talus fracture is a break in one of the bones in the ankle called the "talus." This type of injury oftens occurs during a high-energy event, such as a car accident or fall.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: pain in one foot, swollen ankle, severe foot pain, pain in one ankle, ankle pain from an injury

Symptoms that always occur with fracture of the talus: pain in one ankle, ankle pain from an injury

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Stress fracture of the foot (marching fracture)

A "March" stress fracture of the foot is named because it's sometimes linked to soldiers marching for a long time. This foot fracture happens because of prolonged stress or weight-bearing.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: constant foot pain, foot pain from overuse, pain in one foot, pain when touching the foot, pain in the top of the foot

Symptoms that always occur with stress fracture of the foot (marching fracture): foot pain from overuse, constant foot pain

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Painful Foot Swelling

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Where exactly is your foot swelling?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with diabetes?
  • What is your body mass?
  • Do you have a history of high cholesterol?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your painful foot swelling

Painful Foot Swelling Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced painful foot swelling have also experienced:

  • 6% Swollen Foot
  • 4% Pain In The Top Of The Foot
  • 4% Foot Pain

People who have experienced painful foot swelling were most often matched with:

  • 42% Posterior Tibialis Tendinopathy
  • 42% Gout
  • 14% Ankle Arthritis

People who have experienced painful foot swelling had symptoms persist for:

  • 31% Less than a week
  • 26% Less than a day
  • 22% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Painful Foot Swelling Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your painful foot swelling

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.