Leg Swelling: Common Causes & When To See A Doctor

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Leg swelling, also known as edema, is a common condition that can occur due to a variety of reasons. It is characterized by the accumulation of fluid in the tissues of the legs, which can cause them to become puffy, swollen, and uncomfortable. While leg swelling can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, it can also be a temporary and harmless side effect of certain behaviors or habits.

Common Causes Of Leg Swelling

There are many common causes of leg swelling. Some of the most common include:

  • Injuries: Injuries to the legs, such as sprains, strains, or fractures, can cause swelling as the body responds to the injury.
  • Infections: Infections, such as cellulitis or lymphangitis, can cause leg swelling as the body tries to fight off the infection.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as steroids, hormones, or blood pressure medications, can cause leg swelling as a side effect.
  • Pregnancy: During pregnancy, the body retains more fluids, which can cause swelling in the legs and other parts of the body.
  • Prolonged standing or sitting: Sitting or standing for long periods of time can cause fluid to accumulate in the legs, leading to swelling.
  • Venous insufficiency: Venous insufficiency occurs when the veins in the legs do not function properly, causing blood to pool and fluid to accumulate.
  • Lymphedema: Lymphedema is a condition in which the lymphatic system does not function properly, causing fluid to accumulate in the legs and other parts of the body.

When To See A Doctor For Leg Swelling

While many cases of leg swelling can be managed at home with rest, elevation, and compression, there are certain situations in which it is important to seek medical attention. Some of these situations include:

  • Sudden or severe swelling: If the swelling in your legs comes on suddenly and is severe, it could be a sign of a serious medical condition, such as a blood clot or heart failure.
  • Pain: If the swelling in your legs is accompanied by pain, it could be a sign of an injury or infection.
  • Redness or warmth: If the skin on your legs is red or warm to the touch, it could be a sign of an infection or inflammation.
  • Shortness of breath: If you experience shortness of breath along with leg swelling, it could be a sign of a pulmonary embolism, a potentially life-threatening condition.
  • Fever: If you have a fever along with leg swelling, it could be a sign of an infection.
  • History of cancer or lymphedema: If you have a history of cancer or lymphedema, it is important to seek medical attention if you experience leg swelling, as it could be a sign of a recurrence or progression of the disease.

If you are experiencing leg swelling, there are several steps you can take to manage the condition at home. These include:

  • Rest and elevation: Elevating your legs above your heart can help reduce swelling.
  • Compression: Wearing compression stockings or wraps can help reduce swelling and improve circulation.
  • Exercise: Gentle exercise, such as walking or yoga, can help improve circulation and reduce swelling.
  • Weight management: Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the strain on your legs and reduce swelling.
  • Hydration: Staying hydrated can help prevent fluid retention and reduce swelling.
  • Avoiding tight clothing: Tight clothing, such as socks or pants, can restrict circulation and contribute to swelling.

Request An Appointment With Legacy Vein Clinic Today!

In conclusion, leg swelling is a common condition that can occur due to a variety of reasons. The doctors at Legacy Vein Clinic can help diagnose if your swelling is due to venous insufficiency. 

About the author
Certified by the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine Specializing in the Minimally Invasive Treatment of Varicose Veins and Venous Insufficiency
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