What Causes Legs to Swell?
Venous edema is chronic swelling in legs and ankles or feet. Swollen legs and ankles can be a sign that you have an underlying disease such as venous insufficiency (also known as vein disease), lymph node problems, or a kidney condition.
Edema associated with venous insufficiency is the most common type, affecting over 90% of swollen leg cases. Chronic swelling is not the only symptom of vein disease; others include leg pain, skin discoloration, restlessness, itching, burning, heaviness, or venous ulcers.
Swelling may involve one or both legs. If only one leg has swollen, this may indicate a serious blockage also known as May-Thurner Syndrome.
How Swelling in Legs and Ankles Can Cause Ulcers
With many other cases of edema, many people may not experience painful symptoms. However, edema associated with venous insufficiency may involve tenderness and ulceration. This is because the pressure and swelling may increase until the tiniest blood vessels in the legs, known as capillaries, burst. When this happens, the skin above these vessels may take on a brownish color which can be very sensitive to the touch.
If the burst capillaries are left untreated, they can cause local tissue inflammation and internal tissue damage. This happens because venous insufficiency, chronic swelling, and ulceration are all progressive disorders. Tissue damage can cause full-blown ulcers. These non-healing wounds can be difficult to heal and can become infected.
Diagnosing Venous Insufficiency
Even though causes of swollen legs could be due to many factors, it’s also visible sign of venous insufficiency. However, some vein disease cases are not always visible to the eye. Minimally invasive, diagnostic techniques serve as important tools in determining the cause and severity of root issue.
In addition to a physical examination, advanced ultrasound technology is used to determine which veins are diseased. The vascular specialist will use the ultrasound to map out your veins before and during treatment. They are also able to accurately detect blood clots to prevent serious conditions like deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Treatment for Swollen Legs
Vascular specialists will often use a combination of vein treatment and lifestyle changes to treat people with swollen legs due to venous insufficiency. Elevation of the legs after standing for long periods can help temporarily reduce some swelling symptoms; however, vein treatment is used to treat the root of the underlying issues. Minimally invasive treatments such as Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) or Ultrasound-Guided Sclerotherapy (USGS) can greatly improve swelling, as well as other symptoms.
At USA Vein Clinics, we believe that vein treatment should be convenient and accessible. If you or a loved one is struggling with chronic swelling of the legs, visit our website or call 888-768-3467 to schedule an appointment