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What are the Causes of Swollen Hands & Feet?

author image Norene Anderson
Norene Anderson has been a writer since 2003. She is also a registered nurse with expertise in a wide range of medical conditions and treatments. Anderson received her associate degree in nursing from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo.
What are the Causes of Swollen Hands & Feet?
Injury to the hand can cause swelling. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Swelling occurs because of excess fluid that collects in the tissues of the body. The most common places for swelling are the hands, feet, arms, legs and ankles, as reported by MayoClinic.com. Many medical conditions, medications and lifestyle activities cause swelling in the extremities. Complications from swollen feet and hands include decreased blood circulation and an increased risk of skin breakdown and infection.

Sports Injuries

Sports injuries are divided into two categories: acute and chronic. Acute injuries include sprained ankles and hand fractures. They are accompanied by symptoms such as sudden pain, swelling, a dislocated bone or joint and the inability to bear weight. Chronic sports injuries occur after prolonged activity or exercise are are marked by symptoms such as swelling and pain, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Treatment for sports injuries includes the RICE method--rest, ice, compression, elevation--for pain relief and reducing the swelling in the hands or feet, according to the NIAMS. Other treatment options include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and pain, immobilization with a sling or splint and surgery for broken bones or torn ligaments.

Insect Sting or Bite

An insect sting or bite on the feet or hands often causes swelling, itching and pain. The red lump on the skin is a typical allergic reaction to a bite by mosquitoes, spiders, bedbugs, ticks and flies, and from stings by bumblebees, ants, wasps and hornets, as reported by the University of Maryland Medical Center. The reaction results when histamine is released into the body in response to a foreign body such as a stinger or venom from the insect.

Treatment for the swelling at the site on the hands or feet includes removing the stinger, if it is still present. The stinger may release more venom if it is pulled out. UMMC suggests to safely remove it, use a straight-edged object such as a credit card to scrape across it. Wash the area with soap and water and use an ice pack on the site in increments of 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off to reduce the swelling. Swelling that occurs on the face or that interferes with breathing is a medical emergency.

Acute Nephritic Syndrome

Acute nephritic syndrome, also known as nephritis syndrome or glomerulonephritis, causes inflammation or swelling of the glomeruli, which are part of the internal kidney structures. Frequent causes of acute nephritic syndrome in adults include abdominal abscesses, infective endocarditis and hepatitis, according to PennState Hershey. As the glomerulus becomes inflamed, the damage reduces the ability of the kidneys to remove wastes from the blood.

Symptoms of acute nephritic syndrome include swelling in the hands, feet, face, legs and arms. The treatment goal is to identify the underlying cause and reduce the inflammation in the kidney.

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