When edema causes leg swelling, it may signal a potentially serious vascular disease like deep vein thrombosis or venous insufficiency. Mark Matey, DPM, at Jacksonville Vein Specialists has extensive experience determining the underlying cause of edema and creating customized treatment for each patient. If you have questions about leg swelling, or you’d like to schedule an appointment, use the online booking feature or call one of the three offices, with two locations in Jacksonville and one in Palm Coast, Florida.

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What causes edema?

Edema is swelling that occurs when excess fluid builds up in tissues or organs. Leg swelling, which is also called peripheral edema, may develop when you sit or stand too long. It’s also a problem that often arises during pregnancy.

Peripheral edema is also caused by:

  • Certain medications
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Lymphedema
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Congestive heart failure

Vascular disease is one of the most common causes of peripheral edema.

What vascular problems cause edema and leg swelling?

There are two primary types of vascular problems that cause peripheral edema:

Blood clots

Thrombophlebitis is an inflammatory condition that causes blood clots in your leg veins. The affected vein may be near the surface or deep within a muscle, which is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT develops after trauma, surgery, or after you’re inactive for a long time, whether due to sitting or because you’re confined to a bed.

Venous insufficiency

Valves in the leg veins open to let blood flow up toward your heart, then they close to prevent blood from going back down the vein. Venous insufficiency develops when valves in your veins don’t work properly, allowing blood to back up and pool in the vein.

As valves weaken, blood flows backward and accumulates in the vein. This makes the veins enlarge and significantly increases pressure in the vein below the buildup. This condition, called venous insufficiency, causes:

  • Swelling in the lower legs and ankles
  • Varicose veins
  • Venous ulcers
  • Aching, tired, or heavy legs
  • Skin that’s itchy, leathery, or discolored

In severe cases, leg swelling causes pain and makes it hard to walk.

How is leg swelling treated?

Patients often need to wear compression stockings to improve circulation in their legs. Otherwise, the treatment for your edema depends on the underlying condition.

If you have deep vein thrombosis, you may need to take blood thinners or medication to dissolve the blood clot. Dr. Matey may recommend a treatment like radiofrequency ablation or sclerotherapy to close varicose veins and reroute blood flow through healthy veins.

If you develop swelling in one or both legs, call Jacksonville Vein Specialists or schedule an appointment online.