Swollen Legs & Feet
Painless swelling of the feet and ankles is a common problem, especially among older people. Abnormal buildup of fluid in the ankles, feet, and legs is called edema. Swelling may affect both legs and may include the calves or even the thighs. Because of the effect of gravity, swelling is particularly noticeable in the lower part of the body.
Foot, leg, and ankle swelling is common with the following situations:
- Increased age
- Veins in the legs that cannot properly shunt blood back to the heart (varicose veins)
- Leg infection
- Being overweight
- Blood clot in the leg
- Some cardiac conditions
Injury or surgery involving the leg, ankle, or foot can cause swelling.
Long airplane flights or car rides, as well as standing for long periods of time, often lead to some swelling in the feet and ankles.
Swollen legs may be a sign of heart failure, kidney failure, or liver failure. In these conditions, there is too much fluid in the body.
Certain medications may also cause your legs to swell. We advise that you speak directly to your doctor if you are concerned about side effects from your medication.
Some tips that may help:
- Properly fitted compression stockings can be an excellent method of controlling ankle and lower limb swelling. At Ashburnham Foot and Ankle Centre we have a certified vascular stocking fitter who has the knowledge and expertise to fit you with the correct garment.
- Wear quality, well-fitted footwear and support stockings (available at the Ashburnham Foot and Ankle Centre).
- Raise your legs above your heart while lying down.
- Exercise your legs. This helps pump fluid from your legs back to your heart.
- Follow a low-salt diet, which may reduce fluid buildup and swelling.
- When traveling, take breaks often to stand up and move around.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing or garters around your thighs.