How to Ice Swollen Legs & Feet

Swollen legs and feet can occur as the result of fluid retention, also called edema, or after sustaining an injury or undergoing surgery. Swelling is a natural response to trauma, but too much swelling can increase your pain and interfere with the healing process. Elevating your feet, frequently changing position as you sit or lie down and applying ice can help control swelling and speed recovery.

Applying ice to swollen legs and feet can reduce swelling and speed healing.

Ice Towel Method

Step 1

Dampen a small towel with cold water. Wring it out if necessary, to ensure that it is wet on both sides, but not dripping.

Step 2

Fold the damp towel and slide it inside a large plastic, resealable bag. Seal the bag so that no air is inside. Place the bag into the freezer and wait for 15 minutes.

Step 3

Wrap a thin cloth or towel on the area to be iced to prevent harming your skin, then remove the bag from the freezer and place it on the affected area.

Ice Pack Method

Step 1

Place a small bag filled with crushed ice, a cold compress or gel pack into a larger, resealable bag.

Step 2

Fill the large bag partially with cool water, then seal it shut, squeezing out any air.

Step 3

Wrap the ice pack in a damp towel and apply it to the affected area. Press the pack against the curves of your body for the cold to penetrate more deeply.

Things You'll Need

  • Towel

  • Resealable bag

  • Ice

  • Gel pack


Ice your feet or legs for 15 to 20 minutes every hour for the first 72 hours. After 72 hours, ice once in the morning, late afternoon and a half hour before bed for 15 to 20 minutes.

Choose only one method of icing at a time.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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