Published June 1, 2018

Swelling in your leg can be due to numerous reasons that can range from mild to serious. It can be caused due tight stockings, standing or sitting for long duration, not being active or being overweight. It may also be a sign of circulation or heart problems. Typically, one experiences leg swelling due to inflammation in tissues which is the usual response to a disease or injury, or could be because of an inflammatory disorder like rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover fluid retention in leg tissues can also lead to swelling of a leg which is also known as peripheral edema. This condition typically is not a serious concern but knowing the cause can help you determine if the problem is serious. The following are some of the common reasons that can result in leg swelling:

Thrombophlebitis and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

In thrombophlebitis, blood clots are formed near the skin surface which is not likely to break off whereas DVT means you probably have a blood clotting in a vein. This blood clot can break and start travelling towards your lung. This is known as pulmonary embolism which can become life-threatening.

The major symptom of both thrombophlebitis and DVT is a swollen leg, along with the following symptoms:  

  • Skin tinged blue or red
  • Warm skin around the affected area
  • Leg cramping, tenderness and pain

If you are experiencing the above symptoms, it is crucial that you get medical attention immediately.

Heart Failure

When the heart is not strong enough to generate the amount of blood needed by your body, it leads to heart failure. This also creates a build-up of fluids, especially in the legs. Aside from leg swelling, the symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

This also requires immediate medical attention.

Medicines

There a few medications that can cause leg swelling as a side effect. The following are some medicines that can result in leg swelling:

  • Medication for blood pressure
  • Certain antidepressants
  • Hormone medicines that contain progesterone and estrogen
  • Diabetes medication like metformin
  • Anti-inflammatory medication like aspirin

Consult your primary care physician if you are taking one of these medications and experiencing swollen legs.

Varicose Veins

This happens when the valves of the veins in your legs are not able to keep the flow of blood towards the heart. The blood start forming pools which leads to bluish clusters of veins. In some cases, this results in swollen leg. Other symptoms are as follows:

  • Sores
  • Cracked, irritated, dry skin
  • Skin color changes
  • Pain when standing or sitting for long periods of time

Kidney Diseases

The kidneys are in charge of properly filtering waste materials and water filtration. When the kidneys stop functioning, it results in swelling.  Other symptoms include:

  • Bleeding and bruising
  • Excessive thirst
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

It is best to consult your primary care physician if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Swollen leg can cause your leg to appear larger and can cause pain or difficulty in walking. Sometimes the swelling isn’t a cause for alarm, for instance an injury. This is a natural response of your body when it gets injured and it sends white blood cells and fluids to the place of injury to start a healing process. However, if you are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms, it is best to be checked out by a primary care physician.

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