Everything you need to know about swelling in your legs

This article was published on: 03/9/23 11:45 AM

Everything you need to know about swelling in your legs

Don’t let leg swelling get in the way of doing the things you love. Read below to find out everything you need to know about swelling in the legs and how we can help you do more.

Swelling in the legs, also known as peripheral edema, is a common condition that can affect people of all ages. It occurs when excess fluid builds up in the tissues of the legs, causing them to become swollen and sometimes painful. There are many potential causes of leg swelling, from underlying medical conditions to lifestyle factors, and it is important to identify the root cause to effectively manage the symptoms.

Causes of Leg Swelling

The various factors that can contribute to leg swelling include:

  • Prolonged sitting or standing: Sitting or standing for long periods of time can cause fluid to pool in the legs, leading to swelling.
  • Injury: A sprained ankle or other leg injury can cause swelling in the affected area.
  • Pregnancy: Hormonal changes, increased blood volume and pressure from the baby on the veins returning blood from the legs during pregnancy can all cause swelling in the legs.
  • Heart, kidney or liver disease: Certain medical conditions can cause fluid retention, leading to leg swelling.
  • Blood clots: A blood clot in the leg can cause swelling and pain.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as high blood pressure medication and steroids, can cause leg swelling as a side effect.

Treatment of Leg Swelling

The treatment for leg swelling will depend on the underlying cause. In some cases, lifestyle changes can be effective in managing the symptoms, such as:

  • Elevating the legs: Raising the legs above heart level can help to reduce swelling.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can improve circulation and reduce fluid buildup in the legs.
  • Compression socks: Wearing compression stockings can help to reduce swelling and improve circulation. This is because compression socks use a graduated compression gradient (tightest at the bottom, loose at the top), to promote proper blood flow and circulation.

In some cases, medications may be necessary to manage the symptoms, such as diuretics to help reduce fluid retention. If the swelling is caused by an underlying medical condition, such as heart or kidney disease, treating the underlying condition is the most effective way to manage the symptoms.

When to See a Doctor

In most cases, leg swelling is not a serious condition and can be effectively managed with lifestyle changes or compression socks. However, there are some situations where medical attention is necessary. You should see a doctor for any leg swelling that you experience but consider an urgent care/emergency room visit if you experience:

  • Sudden or severe leg swelling
  • Swelling in one leg only
  • Redness or warmth in the affected area
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

These symptoms may indicate a blood clot or other serious medical conditions, and prompt medical attention is necessary.

Preventing Leg Swelling

Nobody likes when their legs swell, especially if there is pain or achiness. Thankfully there are a lot of easy ways to target leg swelling and get those legs feeling better quickly!

  • Regular exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding prolonged sitting or standing
  • Elevating the legs when sitting or sleeping
  • Wearing comfortable shoes that fit properly
  • Avoiding too much salt in your diet

It is important to identify the underlying cause to effectively manage the symptoms. Lifestyle changes and medications can be effective in managing the symptoms, and in some cases, medical attention may be necessary. By taking steps to prevent leg swelling and seeking prompt medical attention, when necessary, you can help to manage this condition effectively.

Should I book an appointment?

If you’re suffering from lower limb edema or general lower limb pain, let us know and book an appointment today! At BioPed Footcare, we are here for you. Meet with one of BioPed’s lower limb clinicians to see how you can keep your feet healthy or how to rehabilitate an injury!