How To Treat A Swollen Leg And The Possible Causes Behind It

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Since swelling in the legs is hardly an everyday occurrence, it can be alarming to see your lower limbs puffed up and notice that cankles or calf ankles are now where your ankles used to be. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut way of getting to the bottom of this health issue since over a hundred different things can cause it, ranging from mild to severe. So, how do you determine if your swollen legs warrant a trip to the hospice or at least an online medical consultation? Below is a rundown of the signs and leading causes of leg swelling and what you can do about them.

Signs of swollen legs

Difficulty putting on or taking off your shoes and bending at the ankles are the first signs that your legs may be swelling. You can verify this by gently pressing on your lower leg and seeing if your fingerprint indent lasts for more than a few seconds. If so, chances are that there is an excess buildup of fluids in your legs.

Other telltale signs of leg swelling may include:

  • Itchy, numb, and heavy feeling on your legs or feet.
  • The skin on the legs looks stretched, shiny, or puffy.
  • The skin on the legs feels painful or tight.
  • Indents on the skin when removing socks or pant legs.

Common reasons for swollen legs

1. Oedema

It is not uncommon for your legs or feet to puff up if you spend most of your day walking about or even if you stay seated in a plane or care for hours and hours. The swelling that occurs, in this case, is called oedema, and it is when fluid builds up in the legs and feet. While this issue is more common among overweight individuals and pregnant women, it can affect anyone.

Limiting salt in your diet is a good starting point to prevent oedema. When you are forced to stay put for several hours, such as when travelling, get up frequently or at least stretch and move your legs around. If you notice mild swelling, go for a walk to de-puff your legs. Doing ankle rolls and elevating your feet while lying down also helps.

2. Lymphedema

Lymphedema happens when the body’s lymph nodes no longer filter lymph fluid as effectively as they should, causing one or both of your limbs to swell up mildly or drastically. This issue often occurs among those who have undergone cancer treatment and had their lymph nodes removed in the process. That said, it can also affect people whose lymph nodes are not working properly for various reasons.

The best ways to treat or manage lymphedema include:

  • Regular exercise.
  • Lymphatic drainage self-massage.
  • Using compression devices.
  • Getting certain surgical treatments/

3. Heart, liver, or kidney diseases

Fluids can build up in your legs when your heart, liver, or kidney are not functioning as well as they should. Congestive heart failure, liver disease, and kidney disease can all cause your legs to swell up. If you are certain or suspect that you have any of the following conditions and notice persistent or new swelling in your legs, seek a healthcare provider as soon as possible on how to best manage your conditions.

4. Venous insufficiency

Sometimes, the veins in your legs go weak, causing blood to have a more difficult time flowing back to the heart. This results in fluid buildup in the legs and the development of varicose veins. In addition, there are cases when venous insufficiency arises in those who have had deep vein thrombosis in the past.

Your physician may recommend the following if you are living with venous insufficiency:

  • Medication
  • Compression devices or socks or intermittent pneumatic compression devices.
  • Lifestyle changes like weight loss and more frequent exercise.
  • Surgical treatment.

5. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

DVT affects a vein in the body (usually in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis) and causes a blood clot to form within it. The typical symptoms of this health problem include:

  • Swelling in one leg, which is often accompanied by the skin reddening or feeling warm to the touch.
  • Tenderness or pain in the leg.
  • Enlarged veins near the skin surface.

By itself, DVT is not a life-threatening problem. But if a clot somehow breaks free, it could travel to one of the arteries in the lungs and block blood flow to a part of it, leading to pulmonary embolism, an incredibly serious health complication.

If you experience the symptoms of DVT, it is vital to consult a virtual doctor in Singapore right away to get started on treatment and reduce your risk of pulmonary embolism.


Many conditions can cause your legs to puff up, from simple injuries and infections to chronic conditions like arthritis. If the swelling is mild and goes away on its own within a day or so, it is generally nothing to lose sleep over. Otherwise, it is best to get checked out by a doctor immediately to determine the underlying problem.

Get quick access to certified medical professionals best suited to answer your health inquiries via the MYCLNQ app. From video consultations to supervised COVID-19 tests at your home, MYCLNQ offers comprehensive family healthcare straight from your mobile devices. For more information, feel free to contact us today!

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