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Positional Swelling

Swelling in the ankles and feet is common after you have been sitting or standing for long periods of time (positional swelling).

Long airplane flights or automobile rides are common causes of lower leg swelling. You have an increased risk of positional swelling if you have a job (such as being a surgical technician, assembly line worker, or teacher) that requires you to stand for long periods of time.

Try the following home treatment measures to help relieve symptoms of positional swelling.

  • Sit or lie down and elevate your lower legs.
  • Take breaks from one position, and walk around to help the circulation in your lower legs.
  • Move your feet and ankles often while standing, or tighten your leg muscles, then relax them to help the circulation.
  • Move your fingers or squeeze your hands often, or put your arms over your head to help the circulation in your hands.

Hot or humid weather commonly causes your hands and feet to swell (heat edema). Heat edema also may increase the risk of positional swelling.

By Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
David Messenger, MD
Last Revised April 2, 2012

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