Occasional or frequent swelling in the legs and lower extremities can become bothersome and even interfere with daily functioning or quality of life.
If you’ve ever experienced this type of edema, you may wonder if it’s a circulatory issue and cause for concern.
Keep reading as we answer the question – Leg swelling: Leaky vein valves or something else?
Leg swelling is typically a sign of leaky vein valves and venous insufficiency.
Veins in the legs play a critical role in circulation, as they work to return blood back to heart. Calf muscles aid in this task by squeezing leg veins and propelling blood up and away from the lower extremities. When muscles relax, one-way vein valves close and prevent blood from flowing backwards.
However, when a valve sustains damage, it allows blood to seep down and collect in leg veins. Consequently, pressure builds to the point that it pushes water and other fluids out of blood vessels and into surrounding soft tissue.
This is what ultimately produces swelling in legs.
To determine if leg swelling is caused by leaky vein valves or something else, patients should consult with a vein specialist. He or she will inquire about associated symptoms such as shortness of breath, pain in legs, and if one leg is more swollen than the other.
Additionally, evaluation may include an echocardiogram to evaluate heart function, blood and urine tests to check liver and kidney function, and an ultrasound of legs to detect any clots.
It’s also important to reveal if you are taking any medications that can cause edema, such as NSAIDs, like ibuprofen and naproxen, or calcium channel blockers.
Leg swelling from leaky vein valves is usually relieved by elevating your legs. This technique works best when a person is able to place pillows under his/her legs to raise them above heart level for 20-30 minutes a day.
Compression stockings are another way to counteract pressure in veins and prevent fluid from leaking into soft tissue.
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