Painless swelling of the feet and ankles is a common problem, particularly in older people. Most of the time swelling can be relieved by elevating the legs above the heart while lying down and avoiding sitting or standing without moving for prolonged periods of time. Although swelling of the feet and ankles can be a minor problem, it can also be an indication of more serious illnesses such as heart failure, renal failure, or liver failure.
Review Date: 5/29/2011 Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.