Swollen Legs & Ankles – A Symptom of Vascular Disease
Almost everyone experiences swollen legs or swollen ankles at some point in their life. Swelling is your body’s go-to response when you have an injury, overexercise, or just stand in one place for too long.
But what about chronic swelling that doesn’t go away? If you have persistently swollen feet, ankle swelling, and/or excess fluid in your legs, it could be a more serious vascular condition. Let’s take a closer look at why foot and leg swelling occurs.
Common Causes of Swollen Legs & Ankles
The medical term for swelling is edema. If you have lower leg swelling including swollen ankles or swollen feet, this is known as peripheral edema because it happens on the periphery of your body.
When you first notice that your legs or feet are swollen, take a moment to mentally review your activities over the past couple of days. Here are some common causes of foot swelling in our daily lives:
- Standing in one place for long periods
- Sitting still for hours at a time
- Riding in an airplane, bus, or another type of vehicle
- Twisting your ankle
- Injuring your leg or foot
- Cuts and wounds on the skin or toenails
- Being sick with a cold or flu
- Over-the-counter and prescription medications
Your swelling may or may not come with pain or stiffness and you might not even remember when it began. Some people notice no symptoms other than the swelling itself, so it can be difficult to determine whether the cause is minor or more serious without a doctor’s diagnosis.
Treatment for your leg and foot swelling will depend on the cause and severity of your condition. Don’t start at-home treatments without consulting a doctor first.
Self Care: Soaking, Drink more water, Elevate your legs
Some solutions could do more harm than good. For example, if you have diabetes with open cuts or sores on your feet, you should not necessarily soak your feet due to the risk of infection and may need diabetic wound care.
It’s vital to get to the bottom of exactly what’s causing your swelling. From there, you can work with your doctor to create a customized foot and leg care plan to limit any swelling and other symptoms you may have.
If the cause of your swollen feet and ankles is a more serious condition, a vascular specialist can help you understand what’s happening within your body. Certain leg vein health conditions could be contributing to your ankle swelling and swollen legs.
The valves in your leg veins keep blood and fluid moving throughout your body. When they malfunction, you could develop swollen ankles and feet. This condition, called chronic venous insufficiency, is quite serious and is a leading contributor to strokes.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD), also known as a peripheral vascular disease (PVD), causes restrictions in blood and fluid flow. Early detection is the key to preventing this from becoming a life-threatening health crisis.
When you have deep vein thrombosis (DVT), blood clots and forms clogs deep within your body. A blockage can restrict the blood flow to your lungs, heart, and brain. One of the early signs of DVT is leg swelling.
When veins become inflamed, it’s known as phlebitis. In addition to swollen legs or swollen ankles, you may have redness, warmth, and pain from phlebitis.
Swelling in the legs can arise from organ disease, including kidney disease, liver disease, and heart failure.
There are many other conditions related to swollen feet and having excess fluid in the legs. You may have a bone or tendon condition. Even an ingrown toenail can cause significant foot and ankle swelling.
When to See a Vascular Specialist
When your swollen feet and ankles persist for more than just a few days, something more serious could be going on. See a vascular specialist if your swollen legs have lasted a while or if they are accompanied by fever, redness, pain, or open sores.
If in addition to the swelling, you are experiencing serious symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, seizures, or sudden loss of consciousness or mobility, seek immediate medical care by calling 9-1-1.
At Maryland Vascular Specialists, we understand that persistent leg and foot swelling can be an unpleasant experience. Let’s see what’s happening in your legs and explore your treatment options. Schedule a consultation with a vascular specialist today.