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Swelling in Leg

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I. Introduction

Definition of leg swelling

Leg swelling occurs when abnormal amounts of fluid are deposited in the lower limbs, leading to swelling and a widening of the circumference. This common symptom may be caused by a wide range of diseases and disorders. Efficient diagnosis and treatment of leg edema need knowledge of its underlying causes.

II. Types of Leg Swelling

Pitting edema

An indentation (or “pit”) appears when pressure is applied to a region with pitting edema. It’s a common symptom of diseases like venous insufficiency, in which damaged vein valves lead to reduced blood flow and swelling in the legs.

Peripheral edema

The swelling of the feet and ankles without pitting is called peripheral edema. Causes might range from pregnancy to heart failure to renal illness to liver disease.

III. Causes of Leg Swelling

  • DVT is a condition that occurs when a clot forms in a deep vein, most often in the legs. If a clot blocks blood flow, it may cause swelling, discomfort, and discoloration in the legs.
  • When the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently, a condition known as heart failure sets in. This may cause edema (swelling) of the legs due to the buildup of fluid there. 
  • Damage to the kidneys limits their capacity to flush the body of waste and excess fluid. Leg edema is the outcome of fluid accumulation in the legs. 
  • The disease may be brought on by hormonal changes and increased pressure on the veins. Although it may happen earlier, this is commonly seen in the third trimester of pregnancy.
  • Leg swelling may be caused by hypothyroidism or another thyroid disorder.  

IV. Diagnosis of Leg Swelling

There are a number of methods used by medical practitioners to determine the root cause of swelling in leg.

  • Insight into the various causes of leg edema may be gained from the patient’s symptoms, medical history, and any underlying illnesses.
  • Examining the patient’s legs as part of a full body checkup might reveal outward signs such as discoloration, discomfort, and skin abnormalities. As an added bonus, this test will tell you whether the puffiness is pitting or not.
  • The underlying anatomy and blood flow in the legs may be evaluated more thoroughly using imaging studies. These tests may range from X-rays to ultrasounds to color Doppler imaging to 2D echocardiography, depending on what is thought to be causing the leg edema.

V. Treatment of Leg Swelling

Depending on the etiology, treatment options for limb edema may include:


Edema and fluid retention may be treated with diuretics. Anticoagulants (blood thinners) may be administered for the treatment of deep vein thrombosis, and other drugs may be used to address underlying diseases including heart failure or renal illness.

Interventional Radiology treatment for swelling

Leg edema’s underlying etiology may need interventional radiology techniques in certain cases. Angioplasty and embolization are all examples of minimally invasive treatments that may be used to treat the underlying cause of the edema and increase blood flow.

Treatment without surgery

Without surgery swelling treatment may often be managed medically rather than surgically. Symptoms may often be alleviated and overall leg health improved with noninvasive or less invasive treatments.

VI. Leg Swelling During Pregnancy

  • Pregnancy is associated with a variety of risk factors for developing leg edema, including:
  • Elevated vein pressure and blood volume. Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy raise blood pressure and cause blood vessels to dilate. 
  • Edema of numerous body parts, including the legs, may result from fluid retention due to changes in hormone levels.

Pregnancy-related limb edema prevention and treatment options include:

  • Edema may be alleviated and blood circulation enhanced with regular physical exercise.
  • Leg swelling during pregnancy may be alleviated by improving circulation and wearing loose-fitting clothing, such as shoes that provide enough support and comfort.
  • Preventing leg edema by breaking up long periods of sitting or standing with frequent breaks and changes in posture.

VII. Role of Interventional Radiologist in Swelling Treatment

When edema in the legs is brought on by a vascular problem, interventional radiologists are essential in bringing relief. Minimally invasive techniques that address specific vascular problems that lead to edema are their area of expertise.

Angioplasty (to unblock restricted or blocked blood vessels), stent implantation (to support the structure of blood arteries), and embolization are all treatments that interventional radiologists may undertake to address the underlying cause of leg edema. Accurate diagnosis and procedure guidance are made possible by their mastery of imaging methods including ultrasonography, and fluoroscopy. 

VIII. Medicine for Leg Pain and Swelling

Several medicines for leg pain and swelling exist for alleviating leg discomfort, however, the best option will depend on the reason. Such instances include:

  1. Pain and inflammation caused by arthritis and injuries may be alleviated by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
  2. Water pills, often called diuretics, help the body get rid of excess fluid and reduce inflammation. Edema and heart failure are two common conditions for which they are recommended.
  3. Conditions like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may cause swelling and discomfort in the legs, although anticoagulants like heparin and warfarin can help prevent or cure blood clots.

IX. Causes of Swollen Feet and Ankles

  1. Constant standing or sitting for long periods of time, such as on a flight, or standing for long periods of time while working, may result in fluid buildup in the leg and become the main causes of swollen feet.
  2. Edema may be brought on by stress or injury, including to the foot and ankle.
  3. Swollen feet and ankles might be the consequence of generalized edema, which causes the body to retain fluid everywhere
  4. Lymphedema is a disorder that affects the lymphatic system and leads to swelling and fluid buildup in many regions of the body, including the feet and ankles.

X. Vascular Doctor for Leg Swelling

Leg edema is best treated by a vascular doctor, such as a vascular surgeon or vascular specialist. Consultation with a vascular physician may be helpful in the management and treatment of leg edema in patients with a history of vascular disorders such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), varicose veins, or prior vascular surgery.

XI. Conclusion

Treatment for leg swelling is crucial for eliminating its root cause, alleviating its symptoms, and improving the patient’s quality of life. Minimally invasive techniques to improve blood flow and decrease edema are provided by interventional radiologists, who play a crucial role in the treatment of limb edema caused by vascular problems. In order to find the best therapy for leg edema, knowing what triggers the swelling in the legs, feet, and ankles is crucial. Prevention of leg edema is important for reducing symptoms, improving mobility, and avoiding consequences.