Leg swelling (also called edema) is a common symptom of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). In most patients, swelling begins in the ankles and can progress into the feet and calves. Individuals with swelling in legs may or may not be able to see the swelling, but describe the sensation as a tight feeling. Leg swelling may also be warm and/or sensitive to touch.
Leg swelling related to CVI is caused by poor blood circulation. As blood collects in the lower leg tissues, pressure builds and incites the lymphatic system to produce lymph, a fluid that helps transport white blood cells. Lymph fluid creates additional pressure that cannot be properly distributed because of CVI, and swelling in the legs results.
Women over the age of 50 are at a higher risk of developing chronic venous insufficiency. CVI and related symptoms like leg swelling also commonly afflicts individuals who spend large amounts of time on their feet, like EMS workers, retailers or food service employees. A family history of CVI, obesity, pregnancy and high blood pressure will also increase your risk for developing the disease.
Patients who experience leg swelling associated with chronic venous insufficiency may be instructed to elevate their legs several times a day for 15 to 30 minutes per session. Elevation helps drain blood from the legs to reduce pressure and swelling. Compression stockings may also be recommended to aid in better blood circulation. To fully treat leg swelling associated with CVI, the underlying condition must be addressed. Several minimally invasive procedures are available for the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency, including: endovenous radiofrequency ablation (RFA), ambulatory phlebectomy and ultrasound guided sclerotherapy.
If you believe your leg swelling may be due to CVI, schedule a consultation today to find out which treatment option is right for you.