Vein Conditions

Swelling and Lymphedema

Vein Conditions

Swelling and Lymphedema

Swelling or Edema

Swelling in the legs (edema) occurs when fluid becomes trapped in the soft tissues of the leg from malfunctioning valves in the veins. When the valves in leg veins begin to weaken, or fail, the blood can no longer be pumped out of the legs properly. This causes fluid and blood to become trapped in the legs. When the fluid begins to build up, the leg may begin to swell. The term for the buildup of fluid which leads to swelling in the body is edema.

Lymphedema

Lymphedema is a form of chronic edema that occurs when the body’s lymphatic system does not function properly. It is not the same as vein-disease related edema, although vein disease can eventually progress into a combined venous/lymphatic disorder. As with swelling in the lower legs, lymphedema requires the attention of a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

Who is at Risk for Lymphedema or Swelling?

Any swelling in the lower leg should be considered abnormal, and patients must visit a physician immediately to diagnose and begin treating the underlying problem. Swelling can also be a symptom of other, non-venous conditions such as heart disease, heart failure, obesity, high blood pressure, liver disease, or kidney disease, so it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

Symptoms of Lymphedema or Swelling

  • Swelling of part or all your arm or leg, including fingers or toes
  • A feeling of heaviness or tightness
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Aching or discomfort
  • Recurring infections
  • Hardening and thickening of the skin (fibrosis)
  • Leg Cramps

How we can help

At La Jolla Vein & Vascular, we can assist in the diagnosis of a vascular cause of leg swelling by using duplex ultrasound.  Duplex ultrasound can diagnose a blood clot or venous reflux.  In some cases a venogram may be recommended if an obstruction higher than the groin is suspected.  Lymphedema is a clinical diagnosis, but lymphoscintigraphy can be ordered at an outside imaging center.

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