Occasional leg puffiness typically isn’t anything to worry about. Even something as simple as spending the day on your feet can trigger this problem temporarily.

But legs that are swollen regularly are a pretty clear sign that something’s wrong — and in many cases, a heart or vascular problem is to blame.

Here at Vein & Cardiovascular Center in Orlando, Sebring, and Davenport, Florida, Ashish Pal, MD, gets to the root cause of leg swelling and delivers treatments that help our patients enjoy relief from their symptoms.

In this post, we discuss how your veins and arteries contribute to persistent leg swelling and why it’s important to have the swelling evaluated as soon as possible.

Vascular problems and leg swelling

It’s tempting to think of your veins and arteries as little more than tubes that carry your blood from one part of your body to another. But these essential components of your cardiovascular system are a lot more complex.

Sometimes, they develop problems that have a serious bearing on your overall health — and often, leg swelling is a key symptom. Chronic venous insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis, and peripheral artery disease can cause swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet.

Chronic venous insufficiency

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) affects millions of American men and women. In fact, about 40% of Americans have this condition, also called venous reflux, the backward flow of blood that often triggers foot and leg swelling.

Veins have a series of tiny valves that open and close in rapid succession, creating a forward flow that keeps blood moving back to your heart. CVI is when one or more of those valves are damaged or weakened, allowing blood to flow backward and pool inside your veins.

Impaired circulation can cause swelling, especially in your feet, ankles, and lower legs.

Deep vein thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is another possible cause of swelling in your legs or feet. With DVT, a clot forms in the deep veins of your leg, preventing normal circulation. A clot that breaks away can travel to your lung, causing a life-threatening condition called pulmonary embolism.

Peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects millions of Americans, but because the initial signs can be subtle, many people don’t even know they have it.

PAD typically happens when plaques build up inside the arteries in your legs (or less commonly, your arms), preventing normal blood flow. In addition to swelling, PAD often causes significant pain when you’re walking.

If you have CVI, DVT, or PAD, you can have symptoms other than swelling, including:

  • Skin texture changes
  • Itchy skin
  • Leg cramps or aching legs
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Skin discoloration (often a reddish-brown hue)
  • Thin or fragile skin

Some people develop slow-to-heal sores called leg ulcers. If these sores become infected, your risk of lower limb amputation increases.

Early treatment is essential

Ignoring leg swelling gives all these underlying problems a chance to worsen into life-threatening conditions. If you have persistent or recurrent swelling in your legs, feet, or ankles, schedule an evaluation with Dr. Pal right away.

As an experienced cardiovascular specialist, Dr. Pal uses diagnostic imaging and other techniques to identify the cause of leg swelling so he can prescribe the optimal treatment for your needs.

To schedule your evaluation, request an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Pal and our team at Vein & Cardiovascular Center today.

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