Q. Why does one develop swelling after snake bite?

Answered by Dr. Arul Amuthan and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.


Do you have a question on Snack Bite or Anti Inflammatory Medications? We have medical experts to help you right away. Ask a Doctor Now »

Hi doctor,

I am a 40 year old female. I got cottonmouth bite on the back of the left and right ankle. Three people saw and confirmed that as cottonmouth. I do not believe much venom was released. It happened under shallow water. I got immediate pain as if repeatedly the ankle and feet got hit with a bat and a burning swelling began quickly. I went to the ER. They monitored my blood for two hours and decided no antivenom. I was not given either a tetanus shot or any antibiotics. From the laboratory work, they said everything looks good, but I could not stand or walk. They sent me home with Ultram and Ibuprofen 800 mg. After two days, the swelling slightly increased instead of going down. My fiance took me to different hospitals. The swelling and the fang marks were evident. Again, the laboratory work came back as normal. I was still in pain and swollen ankles. They gave steroid IM injection and Prednisone pack and suggested antihistamine. It has been six days. Still, I cannot stand, walk or care for myself in any way. The swelling has not got down. I have kept it elevated and put some cool fabric packs on swollen areas. It seems to help with burning sensation. I have been drinking Echinacea tea, water and taking all medicines prescribed such as Ultram, Benadryl, Prednisone and Ibuprofen 800 mg. Back of my legs up to the thigh is swollen, entire legs hurt and tender to even minimal touch. Bruising has darkened and the swelling has not gone down. There are no red lines and no skin rotting. What shall I do now? I want the swelling to get relieved. I am scared. How to reduce the swelling? Please tell me what I need to do just to be able to stand briefly. The pain has subsided from 10 to 5, but if I try to stand by just keeping the foot down towards the floor, then the pain is excruciating. Please help.

Related Questions:
I am having heel pain and inflammation from stepping on a nail head.Is this due to a bone contusion or did I damage any ligaments?
Can you suggest a skin whitening cream that does not contain steroids?
Why does my leg pain even after walking short distances?

Dr. Arul Amuthan
Ayurveda Specialist, Naturopathy, Pharmacology, Siddha Medicine, Toxicology


Welcome to icliniq.com.

I could understand your crisis.

  • Usually in the absence of venom in the blood, the following are the possibilities:
  1. The snake bite site may get sepsis (infected with bacteria) and that spreads to the whole leg.
  2. Trauma to nearby objects during the act of escaping from the bite. This leads to some laceration, subsequently infection spread.
  • Few cases may have both of the above causes for the swelling.
  • Do you have a fever? Whether the lymph node in the thigh and groin are swelled or painful while touching? If any of these two are present, it means there is an infection.
  • Sometime, if there is a severe inflammation with absence of infection, then also fever may occur.
  • In your case, both infection and inflammation may be there. We need to rule out that there is no fracture in the bones. It needs to be directly observed by a physician.
  • If only inflammation, then steroids and anti-inflammatory medicines are sufficient. If infection is there, then antibiotics should be added.
  • I advise you not to panic and keep in touch with your clinician, who can examine you in person. If required, you may get admitted in the hospital for three days.

For further information consult a toxicologist online -->https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/toxicologist

Ask your health query to a doctor online?
Ask a Doctor Online »
* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Related Questions & Answers

Is having severe leg pain during pregnancy normal?
Query: Hello doctor, There is a complaint of severe pain in both the legs in my wife who is 14 weeks pregnant. She is unable to sleep due to the pain. All ANC check and blood tests are fine. This is the second pregnancy. She has complaints of a lot of pain in her legs on both sides, more on the right leg....  Read Full »
Dr. Karthic Babu Natarajan
Pain Medicine Physician

Answer: Hello, Welcome to icliniq.com. To tell you the truth, I need more information or examine the patient to come to an accurate diagnosis. Differential diagnosis includes vascular problems for which we can consider a venous/arterial doppler. Probable diagnosis is a pregnancy-related lumbar strain wh...  Read Full »
If I use steroid for MS, is it possible to recover fast?
Query: Hi doctor, I was diagnosed with MS last month. I had severe dizziness before three months, and I got bed bound. The next day, my head became heavy, and I was unable to move it off from the pillow. I had an unsteady feeling on my foot. I was able to sit, and I got pulled back with a sensation on my ...  Read Full »
Dr. Aida Quka

Answer: Hi, Welcome to icliniq.com. I have gone through your MRI report (attachment removed to protect patient identity). It indicates a new exacerbation of MS (also called relapse). As there are new plaques on your MRI which are enhanced by Gadolinium, I would recommend hospitalization and short-term tre...  Read Full »
What is the treatment for facet hypertrophy?
Query: Hi doctor, I am 28 years old and suffering from facet hypertrophy. I have continuous lower back pain. I cannot stand for more than five minutes. I am taking Nuroday daily. I would like to know the treatment.  Read Full »
Dr. Akshay Kumar Saxena
Orthopaedician And Traumatologist

Answer: Hello, Welcome to icliniq.com. You have mentioned that you are 28 years of age and have continuous lower back pain which I think is not responding to the medications and conservative management. Normally at this age, conservative management in the form of anti-inflammatory medications, intensive phy...  Read Full »

Ask your health query to a doctor online?
Ask a Doctor Online »
* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours

Most Viewed

Ankylosing Spondylitis
This article discusses about the causes, pathology, clinical features, musculoskeletal manifestation, investigation and ...Read more »
Is having severe leg pain during pregnancy normal?
Hello doctor, There is a complaint of severe pain in both the legs in my wife who is 14 weeks pregnant. She is unable t ...Read more »
The pulse rate started to fall after giving Epinephrine in a 4-year-old child. Kindly give your opinion.
Hello doctor, I am reviewing the patient care of a 4-year-old child diagnosed with the flu. He was having trouble breat ...Read more »