Got Swollen legs or Feet ? What You Need to Know
Leg swelling can be caused by different reasons that may range from very serious to more benign and chronic causes. The more serious causes of leg swelling include heart failure and blood clot in the leg (Deep Venous Thrombosis).
The less serious causes also include many reasons like medications and arthritis or inflammation. However, the most interesting cause that is also very common but least understood by medical providers is Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI).
CVI is caused by lack of movement in blood flow. Normally, blood flow should go from bottom to top, or foot to thigh, and then on to the heart. While gravity always tends to push the blood flow downward, the one-way valves within the leg veins are normally able to push the blood back upwards against gravity. When the valves are not working properly, a backflow can develop, causing the blood to settle in the lower leg. This backflow can result in a swollen appearance, often accompanied by pain or discomfort. Swelling in the leg, ankle, and calf are the most common locations.
Leg edema caused by CVI is typically worse towards the end of the day, after prolonged standing or sitting. In advanced cases, the swelling may be constant and even interfering with moving around or walking.
How severe can the swelling get?
If left untreated, the swelling can become quite painful, and may even lead to a purple or reddish discoloration in the leg, ankle, or calf. Standing for long periods of time or excessive heavy lifting can contribute to leg swelling, especially in individuals suffering from venous reflux disease. Heart failure is a less common cause of leg swelling, and heart related swelling symptoms are usually different than those stemming from venous insufficiency. For example, swelling caused by heart failure is almost always paired with shortness of breath and a lack of skin discoloration.
Decreasing the risk of swelling
Venous insufficiency is largely hereditary, but there are steps you can take to help manage this condition. Maintaining a healthy body weight can relieve some of the pressure from your valves as well as your legs in general. Allowing blood to pool or settle can aggravate chronic swelling, so it’s best to avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. In addition, moving your legs can help keep the blood flowing, and wearing compression stockings can help decrease swelling in the lower area of the leg.
Treating swollen legs
There are many options for treating venous insufficiency. In the past, surgical methods such as vein stripping (removing the damaged vein) was the only option available. However, recent medical advances have made less invasive techniques such as Ablation possible. Ablation is a treatment where heat or radio frequency is used to help destroy the vein and make it disappear over time. Since this technique is less invasive, there is often less recovery time involved. Other treatments include MOCA (Mechanical Occlusion Chemically Assisted) which uses mechanical agitation of the lining of the vein together with a sclerosing chemical to glue the vessel closed.
Dr. Kaveh at Alpha Vein Clinic performs Radio Frequency Ablation as well as Clarivein Ablation for those seeking a less invasive treatment for Swollen legs and varicose veins in the Las Vegas area. Contact us at (702) 233-1849 today to schedule a consultation!