Understanding Leg Edema
Reducing swollen legs and providing long-term relief with advanced treatment.
Each year millions of people experience edema, especially in their legs.
Although some cases are nothing more than a tie to a lifestyle choice, like sitting or standing for long periods, other cases are tied to more complex and severe underlying conditions such as venous insufficiency.
If you or are loved one is living with chronic edema, we are here to help with proper diagnosis, long-term care, and effective swollen leg treatment.
Don’t go another day dealing with leg edema; start feeling better sooner with Texas Endovascular.
Let’s discuss leg edema in more detail, including symptoms, causes, risk factors, and advanced treatment options.
What is Leg Edema?
Edema is a term used to describe fluid buildup in the body caused by tissues or blood vessels holding more fluid than they should.
Although edema can happen anywhere in the body, leg edema is the most common type, often affecting the lower legs, ankles, and feet.
Edema will cause parts of your body to swell, which might prevent you from completing your regular tasks.
Although simple lifestyle changes, such as elevating your legs or moving around more, can reduce swelling, sometimes edema is a symptom of an underlying venous-related health condition.Schedule AppointmentSchedule AppointmentSchedule Appointment
Leg Edema Symptoms
The main symptom of edema is localized swelling in some parts of your body.
Leg edema symptoms include:
- An area of your leg that appears larger than it was yesterday.
- Stretchy or shiny skin
- Difficulty walking
- A feeling of tightness in the affected area
- Mild pain
- Restricted range of motion
- Recurring infections
- Hardening and thickening of the skin (fibrosis)
- Leg Cramps
What is the Difference Between Lymphedema and Edema?
Lymphedema is a form of chronic edema that occurs when the body’s lymphatic system does not function properly.
It is not the same as vein-disease-related edema, as one is caused by an underlying venous issue. In contrast, the other is caused by an irregularity in the lymphatic system.
It is important to know that, although lymphedema is not a vein condition, it can eventually progress into a combined venous and lymphatic disorder if left untreated.
As with swelling in the lower legs, lymphedema requires the attention of a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
What causes swollen legs?
Understanding the cause of swollen legs is imperative to getting the proper treatment or making adequate lifestyle changes for the underlying condition.
In some cases, swollen legs are nothing more than the result of sitting or standing for too long in one place. Over time, gravity and fluid naturally pull down toward your legs and feet when you’re in the same position without moving.
For other others, there are often underlying reasons that cause edema, especially if it’s chronic, including:
- venous insufficiency
- varicose veins
- heart disease or failure
- high blood pressure
- lung, liver, kidney, or thyroid problems
- an imbalanced diet
- prescription medication, especially those for pain management or high
- blood pressure
- a compromised immune system
If you are experiencing swollen legs or chronic edema, it is essential to seek medical attention right away.
During your initial diagnosis and all appointments after that, your doctor will test the affected area by gently pressing their fingers on the edema for five to fifteen seconds.
This is known as a pitting test which gauges the amount of fluid buildup in your underlying tissues.
Once they release their fingers, an indent or pit forms that they can then use to better understand your condition’s severity.
The edema grading scale measures how quickly the pit goes back to normal, known as rebounding, after finger removal.
The scale is laid out as follows:
- Grade 1: Immediate rebound with 2 mm pit.
- Grade 2: Under 15-second rebound with 3 to 4 mm pit.
- Grade 3: Rebound greater than 15 seconds but less than 60 seconds with a 5 to 6 mm pit.
- Grade 4: Rebound between 2 to 3 minutes with an 8 mm pit.
The higher the grade, the greater the fluid buildup in your affected tissues.
Treatment for Swollen Legs
Treatment for edema depends on the severity and cause of the swelling.
Mild edema usually goes away on its own with lifestyle modifications such as elevating your legs, exercising regularly, and avoiding sitting or standing for long periods.
More severe edema may be treated with diuretics– drugs that help your body expel excess fluid through your urine.
Long-term treatment for swollen legs typically focuses on treating the underlying cause of the swelling.
If edema occurs as a result of venous insufficiency or varicose veins, your doctor may advise on minimally invasive treatment options that could include:
- Ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Radiofrequency perforator ablation
- Ambulatory phlebectomy (varicose vein removal)
- Varicocele embolization
Compassionate Edema Care in the Greater Houston and Dallas Area
You shouldn’t have to live with swollen legs forever, especially if they are painful or chronic.
Our expert team is here to help reduce pain and eliminate the underlying cause of your edema due to venous insufficiency using an advanced treatment that won’t require extensive surgery or long-term recovery.
Texas Endovascular provides the most advanced and minimally invasive vein treatments for the Greater Houston and Dallas area.