Leg swelling (edema) can occur for a variety of reasons and is usually noticed first around the ankles. Most swelling is painless and is only appreciated visually or by pushing with a finger over the ankle bone and noticing an impression. The most frequent cause of lower leg swelling is vein disease. Left untreated, it can develop into lymphedema or progressive skin deterioration leading to a risk of an ulcer. If you have leg swelling, the specialists at Vascular Vein centers can diagnose the cause and provide effective treatments. They have offices in Orlando, East Orlando, Kissimmee, Lake Mary, The Villages Davenport/Haines City, and Rockledge/Viera, Florida. Call the Vascular Vein Centers office nearest you or schedule a consultation online today.
Leg swelling occurs when fluid which should be in the blood vessels, “leaks” out into the surrounding tissue. If the valves in veins don’t work and blood isn’t pumped out of the leg as it should, then the pooling of blood in the lower leg creates a pressure that pushes fluid out of the vein and into the tissue. There is usually no associated pain but there may be pressure or fullness sensations, possibly an ache later in the day.
Other medical conditions- heart, kidney, liver- and ankle or soft tissue injury can cause swelling but not nearly as commonly.
The swelling from poorly functioning veins usually affects both legs but is not usual for one leg to be significantly worse than the other. Over time the swelling may progress up the leg.
Simply- leg swelling is the result of gravity, dependency, and the distance from the heart. To efficiently return blood from the legs, a person needs veins that have normal valves and calf muscles that are functional.
Factors that affect these are:
Deep Vein Thrombosis/clot (DVT)- Blockage in the veins obstructing outflow
The above causes can be a problem by themselves but when two or more are acting together, the problem of swelling can be compounded.
Simply, the answer is Yes. Swelling causes inflammatory fluid to pass into the surrounding tissue. At first, this may be subtle and hardly noticeable but as time goes on it gets worse and the tissue and skin become firm, stiff, brittle, discolored (pinkish or brown) and fragile. An ulcer can occur, or lymphedema with swelling of the foot can result.
Lymphedema results when lymph vessels, which lie adjacent to veins, are scarred, and cease to function. Swelling becomes firmer, extends down into the feet and toes and is much harder to control, often making regular shoes difficult to wear, especially dress shoes. Once swelling has gone into the feet and toes, it cannot be eliminated using compression, elevation, or diuretics.
Since we cannot escape gravity, anything which lessens its affect helps. Medical-grade graduated compression eliminates or slows swelling if one is on their feet for long periods. Periodic elevation helps. Loss of weight, for those significantly overweight, decreases the resistance to outflow of blood and fluids from the leg. Water exercise is wonderful because of its antigravity effects.
The keystone to treatment of leg swelling is graduated compression to assist the calf pump and keep fluid in the vascular space blocking the “leak”.
The greatest impact on controlling the swelling of vein disease is treating the underlying vein problem. This is best accomplished using laser ablation or VenaSeal medical adhesive for the source veins; and Varithena or regular foam for closure of the branch varicose veins.
Sudden edematous legs especially when the tops of the feet are involved is usually an indication that the venous and lymphatic vessels are both affected. This is a progressive situation which starts with “soft” swelling which goes down overnight and progresses over time to a firm swelling which does not subside overnight. At this point the skin can develop a very ruddy (lumpy) texture. With lymphedema the challenge is to stop the progression by treating the underlying vein problem and using firmer compression wraps.
If you have leg swelling or think you might have lymphedema, call Vascular Vein Centers, or book an appointment online today.