Here's Why You Should Never Ignore Leg Swelling

Here's Why You Should Never Ignore Leg Swelling

Occasional leg swelling isn’t uncommon. For instance, many people notice that their feet feel a little swollen after flying on an airplane. It’s also normal to have swollen feet and legs during pregnancy or after surgery. 

In most cases, occasional leg swelling is often harmless and resolves itself quickly. Nevertheless, swelling in your legs can be a sign of an underlying condition, especially if it becomes more frequent or if your symptoms worsen. Leg swelling can signal an issue with your veins.

Because of this, it’s a good idea to never ignore leg swelling. Here’s what you need to know about this condition, courtesy of our team of board-certified, fellowship-trained vascular surgeons at Vascular Specialists, who serve the greater Chicagoland area at three convenient locations.

About leg swelling 

Swelling 一 generally referred to as edema 一 can happen for many reasons. Airplane rides can cause swelling if you don’t move your feet or legs much during the flight. Your sitting position puts pressure on your veins, and inactivity can contribute to blood pooling in your veins. 

The good news with this type of leg swelling is that once you start walking around again, your circulation returns to normal, and the swelling subsides. 

Other causes of swelling include:

Generalized edema can signal that you have vascular issues and circulatory problems. This can make excess fluid build up within your capillaries (small blood vessels), and as the fluids accumulate, they can leak into nearby tissues.

Swelling can develop in your ankles, feet, calves, and even your thighs. Vein damage, deep vein thrombosis, and venous insufficiency can contribute to swelling. 

Constant and worsening leg swelling can also develop as the result of chronic heart failure, kidney disease, or liver disease.

Why you shouldn’t ignore leg swelling 

There are three good reasons why you should never ignore leg swelling:

It can be serious

Leg edema can fall into two categories: a temporary, harmless condition that will resolve itself soon or a warning sign of a serious underlying medical condition.

Vascular issues such as chronic venous insufficiency require treatment for the leg swelling to go down. Because swelling can be a sign of a serious condition that requires medical attention, it’s important to first confirm the source of your swelling before trying to treat it on your own. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Swelling can contribute to leg ulcers

Not only can swelling indicate that you have a serious vascular issue, but the swelling itself can be problematic. Swelling can increase your risk of developing a slow-healing leg wound. This is especially true if you already have poor circulation. 

Delayed treatment means prolonged symptoms

The more you delay seeking treatment, the longer it can take for you to find relief. Swelling isn’t painless. When your skin stretches, it can feel achy. You may also notice that your leg feels heavy. The sooner you seek medical care, the sooner you can start to feel better.

When should I see the doctor for leg edema?

At Vascular Specialists, we encourage you to visit us if you have: 

Swelling that affects just one leg, feels warm to the touch, and is red can indicate a blood clot. This requires immediate medical attention and may warrant a trip to the emergency room.

How is leg swelling treated?

Treatment for leg swelling depends on the underlying cause of your symptoms. Our team may examine your legs, review your symptoms, and analyze ultrasound images to assess your vascular health. For instance, if we find that venous insufficiency or varicose veins is the source of your problem, our team may recommend endovenous ablation.

Other potential treatments for leg swelling include:


The bottom line is that you should never ignore leg swelling. Call Vascular Specialists 一 located in Munster, Indiana, and Tinley Park and Evergreen Park, Illinois 一 today and get the care you need for swollen legs.

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