Is A Swollen Calf After Foot Surgery Normal?

by Rosie
(San Antonio, Texas)

I had foot surgery on June 18, 2009.

Started walking in the big boot (up to my knee) on July 31, 2009 when my pins were taken out. On August 8th - my calf started to hurt. On August 12 walking in the little post op boot.

Now my calf is swollen by the end of each day.

Is this common after surgery? My toes aren't swollen, but the calf is.



Joshua Answers:

Hi Rosie. Thanks for asking.

Is it normal to have a swollen calf after foot surgery? Hmmmm. Not really.

Is it normal to have a swollen calf when wearing the boot? More normal. Or at least, not surprising.

But really before I said that, I should have asked a few questions.

1. Foot surgery for what?

2. How long after the original surgery did you have swelling in the calf? Or was it after pins came out? Or was it after switching to the smaller boot?

3. When it gets swollen, how long does it stay swollen?

4. How long do you wear the boot?

5. What is the relationship between your calf pain and the swelling?

6. Any other symptoms in the foot/leg?

7. How much area of the calf is swollen? The toes and foot aren't, just the calf, correct?

8. How old are you?

9. How is your health in general? Or, any other health issues?

Answer those questions and I will have a better idea of what you have going on, and will be able to give you a more accurate answer.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Aug 14, 2009
Is A Swollen Calf After Foot Surgery Normal?
by: Aldo

Hello Joshua

I recommend go to the doctor or emergency room immediately, I prefer emergency room, they do everything at once and perform a complete study, this could be a sign of a blood clot in the leg, one of the problems after surgery just to be sure



Joshua Answers:

Hey Aldo.

It's certainly not a bad suggestion to go to the doctor and get an ultrasound Deep Vein Thrombosis test.

The symptoms as she described didn't set my alarms off. DVT usually includes constant swelling instead of just at the end of the day, and discoloration, and more pain than she described.

Having said that, it can never hurt to be sure, absolutely.

May 10, 2017
Tendinitis surgery in March 24 2017
by: Wendytruewell

Hi y'all I was reading this being ur statement were in 09, I hope y'all still visit this page.

So I had tendinitis surgery in March and just got my boot 2wks ago, because my wound has not healed completely in fact it came back open some the boot opened the other part so I'm still wrapping my ankle lightly.

My problem is really bad swelling on the top part of my foot and I finally went to church Sunday SAT for 2hrs, my back was paining.

Got outside looked my calf was swollen so big it almost opened the boot it took 2days for it to go down. Now it swells everyday. Blood clot?


Joshua Comments:

If it's a blood clot or you suspect it is, you better get yourself to the emergency room or equivalent and get that ruled out with ultrasound test.

Having said that, it's entirely unsurprising that not very long after surgery, when your wound hasn't healed shut, that you'd have swelling (lots of inflammation going on).

Also, that's a big problem that the wound hasn't closed/healed.

That points to your health/immune system/nutritional status not being very good....which leads to long term open wound....which puts you at risk of infection....etc.

What did the doctor(s) say about the wound not healing?

Aug 14, 2018
Ongoing swelling in calf after sesamoid fracture
by: Lucy

HI Josh,

Apologies that this is a follow up to an inquiry some time ago.

I am in a similar situation. I had a sesamoidectomy after an acute fracture to my sesamoid. This fracture went undiagnosed for some time so led to avascular necrosis in the bone. I was in a boot on and off for about 6 months before the surgery and post.

I noticed after the initial injury but prior to surgery swelling in the calf. Swelling started when i walk/exercise each day and is very bad by the end of day. It gets better and goes away when I am not on my leg or it is elevated.

I am 26 and very active.

I have been checked for DVT and nothing.

I have seen a vascular specialist and sports medicine doctor who aren't sure.

this has been going on for 1.5 yrs now!

Any advice or ideas would be a huge help!

Thanks so much,



Joshua Comments:

Hi Lucy.

My first thought is that there is still a scenario in the foot that, when you irritate/stimulate it by putting weight on it, triggers a 'turn the inflammation on!!' signal to the brain.

One of the two main actions of the inflammation process is to adjust the circulatory system such that fluid stays in the area. Thus, swelling.

So you walk, and long story short the lower leg swells because the body thinks it's protecting your from damage that way. (The brain is kind of dumb in some ways, that's one of them.)

The other thought is that due to the pain and the immobilization in the boot, etc, there are muscle/connective tissue stuck too tight somewhere that is limiting circulation back up the leg, and thus you are on your feet for a while, fluid can't get back up the leg, and thus visible/noticeable swelling.

The surgery was just on the foot, yes?

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