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Leg swelling without a recent injury may seem like a benign problem, especially if it does not cause pain. Unfortunately, any persistent swelling in the legs should be treated seriously since there are several conditions that might be the underlying cause.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition where blood clots occur in the veins of the lower leg. In some instances, DVT can make your leg swollen and red, or there may be pains that feel like muscle cramps. Unfortunately, not every case of DVT comes with obvious symptoms. If your doctor suspects DVT, they might start the evaluation by ordering a blood test. The D-dimer test detects levels of substances created after a clot dissolves. If there is an abnormal level of these substances, your doctor will likely want you to have a vascular ultrasound. During the study, the veins in your leg will be checked using ultrasound. The sound waves create a picture of the veins on the screen and might identify a blood clot.
Lymphedema occurs when lymphatic fluid does not drain properly and builds up, usually in the lower legs. Unfortunately, severe lymphedema can impede mobility and increases your risk of skin infections. There are situations when lymphedema is more likely to occur. If you recently had lymph nodes removed to check for cancer, this may contribute to the occurrence of lymphedema. In some instances, people who are overweight will develop lymphedema because the excess weight compresses the lymphatic system, reducing the ability of lymph to drain.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) occurs when the valves in the legs are unable to adequately return blood flow to the heart. When this occurs, blood builds up in the affected extremity, typically the lower leg. In some cases, CVI is a direct result of other conditions like DVT. In addition to pain and swelling, the leg might develop ulcers, which can subsequently become infected. Much like DVT, a vascular ultrasound is used to detect the problem. If CVI is diagnosed, there are several lifestyle changes that may improve the condition or prevent it from worsening. If you are overweight, your doctors will advise you to lose weight. Additionally, compression stocking can assist your veins in pushing blood back to the heart. Keeping your legs elevated can also help prevent pooling of blood.
Leg swelling that occurs without an obvious injury may indicate a significant underlying condition. If you notice swelling in your lower legs, it is imperative to visit your doctor to have the problem diagnosed and managed. Contact a local doctor's office to learn more.Share