Do you have swelling in your legs? You’re not alone. Millions of people suffer from leg swelling (or edema) each year in the U.S., making it a relatively common medical problem. But just because it’s common, that doesn’t mean it’s harmless. In fact, any type of leg swelling can be a sign of a serious underlying medical condition, and if you have swelling in your legs, you should have it evaluated right away.
Treatment in Minnesota
There are lots of medical issues that can cause leg swelling, including injuries like sprains and fractures, fluid retention during pregnancy, localized inflammation, spending long periods of time standing, and even some types of medications. Swelling in legs is also associated with kidney damage or kidney failure, a common side effect of diabetes, and people with congestive heart failure also often have leg swelling.
Some of the most common causes of leg swelling are related to your circulation — specifically, vein problems that affect the ability of your blood to flow from your feet and lower legs back to your heart. In fact, swelling in legs is one of the most common varicose vein symptoms, occurring when the tiny valves inside your leg veins stop working properly. Normally, these valves open and close in rapid succession, keeping your blood moving from your feet and lower legs back to your heart. When the valves malfunction, blood pools and becomes sluggish, causing swelling and pain. Twisted, bluish varicose veins form, and you may have symptoms like leg pain, burning sensations, or itchy skin. When swelling in legs as a result of varicose veins, it’s also referred to as chronic venous insufficiency.
Other circulation-related causes of leg pain & swelling include:
deep vein thrombosis (also called DVT), which develops when clots in your legs block normal blood flow
obesity, which causes increased pressure on the veins and "drainage" system in your abdomen and legs
tumors that cause veins and lymphatic drainage channels to become blocked
post-phlebitic syndrome, which occurs in people who have had DVT
calf muscle pump dysfunction, which interferes with the normal blood-pumping function exerted by calf muscles
Left Leg Swelling vs. Right Leg Swelling
While many of these issues cause swelling in both legs, sometimes, only one leg will swell. When you have only left leg swelling or right leg swelling, it’s more often the result of DVT. Several tests and evaluations can be used to look for clots in your leg, including Doppler ultrasound which uses noninvasive sound waves to create images of the inside of your leg veins, making it easier for your doctor to identify clots or other issues that could be causing your symptoms. Your doctor also will take your pulse in both ankles to determine if the pulse in your affected leg is different from the pulse in your other leg, which is another indicator of a clot.
Find out what’s causing your leg pain & swelling.
At Metro Vein Centers, our team is skilled in diagnosing the cause of leg swelling and pain, using state-of-the-art evaluation techniques designed to assess the structure of your veins as well as their function — that is, how well they’re working to move blood from your lower limbs back to your heart. If you have leg swelling, it may be a sign of a serious underlying medical condition, including life-threatening issues like clots. If you have leg swelling, call Metro Vein Centers and schedule an evaluation and consultation today.