Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tips for swelling legs

Swelling of the feet, ankles or legs is a common problem that affects men and women alike. Edema, as it is known in the medical community, is swelling due to a buildup of extra fluid.

According to Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen of the Vein Healthcare Center in Maine, there are many possible causes for edema, including venous insufficiency. She said that the treatment of leg edema depends upon a proper diagnosis of the cause— and that if the swelling is caused by venous insufficiency, there are treatments available.

Those who experience leg swelling should visit his or her primary care physician or specialist to determine the cause. A variety of tests will likely be checked, possibly including a venous ultrasound test to look for faulty valves in the leg veins.

If leg swelling is due to venous insufficiency, here are some things to consider:
   • Elevate your legs above your heart periodically throughout the day, especially after you have been standing for a long time.
   • Wear graduated compression stockings to help promote the flow of blood back up to the heart. They are available at many pharmacies and medical supply stores.
   • Protect the skin over the swollen area from cuts, scrapes or extreme temperatures. The skin becomes more fragile over time and any injuries can take much longer heal.
   • Contact a board certified phlebologist for an evaluation. Minimally invasive office procedures, such as endovenous laser ablation, can fix the underlying problem of venous insufficiency.

Chronic swelling also puts people at risk for cellulitis, a potentially serious bacterial infection that can affect the skin’s surface and its underlying tissue and cause the skin to become swollen and tender. Those with venous symptoms can also be at increased risk for superficial thrombophlebitis, which are clots within the superficial veins that can be extremely painful.

In our next post, we’ll introduce a condition called lymphedema— and what happens when the venous system becomes involved.

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