What Causes Swelling in One Foot Only?

Swelling in one foot only can be caused by several different factors. Common causes of swelling in one foot include injury, inflammation due to arthritis, varicose veins, and venous insufficiency. Other potential causes of swelling in one foot may include certain types of medication, kidney or liver disease, congestive heart failure, lymphedema, and pregnancy.

In this article, we’ll examine potential causes for swelling in only one foot more closely.

Foot Injuries

Injury is a common cause of swelling in the feet and ankles. Injuries such as sprains or fractures can lead to an accumulation of fluid within the tissue leading to swelling. Swelling can also result from a pinched nerve or ligament tear. If you have experienced trauma to your leg or ankle, seek medical attention, especially if the pain is severe or you cannot bear any weight on the affected foot.

Types of foot injuries that can cause swelling:

  • Sprains: occur when muscles, tendons or ligaments are overstretched, leading to inflammation and swelling.
  • Fractures: breaks in a bone that typically cause severe pain and swelling.
  • Tendonitis: occurs when the tendon becomes inflamed due to repetitive strain or overuse. This can cause pain and swelling in the affected foot.
  • Bursitis: occurs when a bursa sac becomes inflamed, usually due to overuse or injury. This can lead to swelling around the affected area. A bursa sac is a fluid-filled sac that helps lubricate and cushion the joint, reducing friction between bones, muscles, and tendons.
  • Nerve Compression Syndrome: occurs when nerves become compressed due to an injury, resulting in pain and swelling in the affected foot.
  • Pinched nerves: compression of the nerve caused by nearby tissue leads to swelling around the affected area.
  • Ligament tears: overstretching of the ligaments can lead to inflammation, pain, and swelling around the affected area.

If you are experiencing swelling in one of your feet, it’s important to seek medical attention to determine the cause. This can help prevent further injury and ensure optimal recovery.


Osteoarthritis can also cause swelling and pain around the affected joint. This type of arthritis usually involves wear and tear of a joint and usually develops gradually over time.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis can include:

  • Pain and stiffness of the infected joint, which is often worse after a period of inactivity, such as when getting up in the morning or after sitting awhile
  • Reduced flexibility or ability to move the affected joint
  • A grating sensation or the sound of popping or cracking with movement
  • Swelling


Gout can also cause painful swelling around the affected joint. It usually comes on suddenly. Gout usually occurs in the big toe.

Gout symptoms can include:

  • Sudden, severe attacks of intense joint pain, usually in one big toe. The discomfort may become less intense after the first 12 hours or so.
  • Redness, swelling, and warmth at the affected joint
  • Difficulty moving the affected joint


Cellulitis, a common type of skin infection, can appear as red, swollen, and tender areas of the skin, especially on the lower leg. It occurs when bacteria enter a cut or open area of the skin. It’s not contagious, but it’s important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of cellulitis because it can spread to the blood and lymph nodes and become a medical emergency.

Symptoms of cellulitis can include:

  • A red, swollen patch of skin that may expand, and may feel warm to the touch.
  • Pain or tenderness at the site
  • Fever or chills
  • Skin dimpling

Blood Clot or Deep Vein Thrombosis

A blood clot can cause swelling in the legs and feet, especially if it is located in a deep vein. Symptoms of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) include swelling, warmth, pain, and tenderness in one leg or foot. Seek medical attention immediately if you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of DVT. A blood clot that breaks free can get lodged in the lungs, which can be a life-threatening emergency.

Symptoms of DVT can include:

  • Swollen leg
  • Cramping or leg pain, especially in the calf
  • Changes in skin color on the leg
  • Leg feels warm to the touch

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are enlarged and twisted veins, often appearing near the surface of the skin and typically found in the legs and feet. These veins can be caused by poor circulation or a lack of support from the muscles surrounding the veins. This can lead to pooling of blood within them, which will usually result in swelling. Mild varicose veins may not cause discomfort or complications, but more severe cases can.

Signs and symptoms of varicose veins can include:

  • Throbbing, burning, or aching legs
  • Legs that feel heavy
  • Leg muscle cramps
  • Itching around the affected veins
  • Dark blue or purple veins that bulge or twist
  • Swelling in the affected leg

Venous Insufficiency

Venous insufficiency is a condition in which the veins are unable to send blood back up toward the heart effectively. This can lead to pooling of blood in the lower legs and feet, resulting in swelling. Mild cases of venous insufficiency can be managed with lifestyle changes such as elevating your legs when possible and avoiding long periods of standing or sitting. If needed, your doctor may recommend medications or surgical procedures to treat more severe forms of this condition.


If you have swelling in one foot only, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible, as it could be a medical emergency. Your doctor may recommend further tests, such as an ultrasound or blood work, to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms. With proper diagnosis and treatment, you can often reduce or eliminate troublesome swelling in one foot.

DISCLAIMER: The content of this article is for informational purposes only and should not be seen as a substitute for professional medical advice. If you are experiencing any severe symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention. All decisions made regarding one’s health should be discussed with a qualified healthcare provider. This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your doctor before starting any new treatments or if you have any questions or concerns about your health.

Related Articles

Assisted Living: A General Overview

Who Should Move into Assisted Living? Assisted living is for more independent seniors. These are seniors who can generally take care of themselves with a helping hand here or there. If one of the following descriptions fits your loved one, assisted living might be a good fit for them. Your loved one has a hard […]

When to Call Hospice?

Hospice is a really tough decision for any caregiver or family to make. It’s important to make sure you have all the information before making a final decision on moving forward with hospice care. The first thing to learn is about what hospice is and how it will benefit your loved one. Next, you will […]

When is it Time for Assisted Living

Wondering if it is time for assisted living for your loved one is a common question for caregivers. As a caregiver, you might have been considering the question for months or possibly even years. Your loved one might have declined to continue the discussion as the thought of moving out of their family home and […]

All About Adult Day Care: Community and Costs

Adult day care is a fairly new concept for caregivers. The basic idea is to provide a secure place where seniors can enjoy social activities during the day and nursing care as needed. It’s a hybrid model of eldercare that prioritizes community. At the same time, seniors get help with common custodial tasks such as […]

Preparing a Mechanical Soft Diet

This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Martin Duggan in 2021 This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. As a caregiver, you may […]

An Overview of Senior Rehabilitation Centers

Recovering from injury or illness in your golden years may take time and support. That’s where senior rehabilitation centers become essential. If you need a temporary stay to recover from injury or illness, senior rehabilitation centers can be the solution to get expert care and daily support. Let’s give an overview of what senior rehab […]


Caregiving End of Life Financial Funeral Grief and Loss Home Care Housing Legal Lifestyle Remembrance Resources Retirement Senior Health Senior Products Spiritual Uncategorized