Treat Your Lower-Extremity Edema Without Losing Calf Muscles

Lower-Extremity Edema - Sriramakrishnahospital

An inappropriate accumulation of fluid in the tissues of the lower leg is usually the cause of lower limb edema. Peripheral edema refers to swollen legs caused by fluid retention in the tissues. Pitting edema is the continuous cleft of a swollen leg after finger pressure. The article gives information about lower-extremity edema, what causes it, and the options for leg edema treatment. 

Lower-extremity edema – here’s an overview:

The presence of fluid in the legs is not always indicative of peripheral edema. In order to arrive at an accurate diagnosis, it is necessary to conduct a thorough history and physical examination, as well as any necessary confirmatory tests. Sometimes only one leg swells, but sometimes both.

Systemic disorders (such as heart failure) typically cause bilateral inflammation, while local trauma, venous disease, or lymphatic disease are more likely to cause unilateral inflammation.

Most cases of edema in one leg are caused by things close to home (e.g., deep vein thrombosis or cellulitis). Nonetheless, bilateral edema due to systemic reasons may appear unilateral since it is more pronounced on one side than the other.

The different signs that can indicate lower-extremity edema:

  • Puffiness or swelling of the subcutaneous tissue, most noticeable in the lower extremities.
  • Skin that is either too stretched or excessively oily
  • Dimples (pits) that persist on the skin after being pushed for a few seconds
  • Enlargement of the abdomen

The different causes that can lead to the condition:

Swelling of the lower extremities (feet, legs, and ankles) can result from various leg edema causes. Most instances of swelling can be traced back to adjustable aspects of one’s lifestyle, such as:

Being overweight:

The accumulation of fluid in the lower extremities, particularly the feet and ankles, is a common complication of being overweight because of the impaired blood circulation that results from being overweight.

Standing or sitting for long periods:

Muscles cannot circulate blood and other body fluids to the heart when resting. Swelling of the legs is often caused by fluid and blood retention.

Other possible causes can include the following:

Hormonal changes:

Leg swelling is a common symptom of poor circulation, which can be exacerbated by cyclical changes in estrogen and progesterone levels. Both pregnancy and a woman’s menstrual cycle are associated with fluctuations in hormone levels.

Blood clot in the leg:

It is a collection of blood that has solidified into a clot. A blood clot in a leg vein can disrupt blood circulation, leading to swelling and pain.

Infection or injury:

When the foot, leg, or ankle sustains an injury or an infection, the body sends more blood to the area to help heal the wound or infection. 

The diagnostic procedures that can help identify the condition:

To identify the source of the swelling, our doctor may request one or more of the following tests:

  1. Blood tests that evaluate multiple organs, such as blood counts, kidney and liver function tests, and electrolytes
  1. X-rays to view tissues and bones.
  1. Using ultrasound to examine tissues, blood vessels, and lungs
  1. Using an electrocardiogram to evaluate heart health
  1. If your swelling is caused by a habit or a minor accident, your doctor will often advise home care. Nephrologists will attempt to address the underlying condition first if the swelling is brought on by it.

The treatment options for lower-extremity edema that the specialists recommend:

Compression stockings:

External compression stockings should be graded if worn (i.e., tighter distally than proximally). Offer patients socks with a donning device if they have trouble putting them on. Non-graded hosiery should be used by patients with a history of deep vein thrombosis, even if they usually do not significantly reduce edema.

Patients with uncontrolled heart failure, severe or gushing dermatitis, advanced peripheral neuropathy, or peripheral arterial disease shouldn’t use compression stockings of any kind to treat swelling in feet. When patients are being considered for therapy with compression stockings, the presence of pedal pulses alone is insufficient to rule out peripheral artery disease.

Lymphatic massage:

Manual lymphatic drainage, also known as lymphatic massage, is an integrative medicine technique in which patients or therapists use their hands to stimulate specific lymphatic system sites to drain. Although it was created to treat lymphedema, vibrotherapy, in combination with it, may be beneficial for treating lipedema. Generally speaking, it is ineffective for venous edema.

The most common reason for lower-extremity edema is due to kidney issues. Visit a kidney specialist in Coimbatore if you start noticing leg swelling to avoid complications.

Know when you should visit a specialist:

Leg swelling can be a symptom of various illnesses, from minor to severe. Several conditions can be life-threatening and necessitate emergency care.

  • Unexpectedly and quickly developing leg swelling
  • Edema in the legs following an injury.
  • One leg is swollen and painful, and the skin is pale and cold.
  • Swelling along with redness or blisters.
  • Swelling gets worse, particularly if you have a history of heart or kidney disease.
  • Abdominal and leg edema, particularly if you have a history of liver illness.
  • Swelling associated with fever
  • If you are pregnant, sudden or significant swelling could be a symptom of preeclampsia.
  • Persistent leg edema that is resistant to natural therapies

Here’s how you can prevent lower-extremity edema:

Swelling in the ankle, leg, and foot cannot always be avoided. Some effective advises are:

  • Regular exercise will keep your circulation healthy. The World Health Organization suggests 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise each week for people ages 18 to 64.
  • Only spend a little bit of time standing or sitting still. 
  • If you sit or remain stationary for an extended time, sometimes remember to stand up or walk around.
  • Limit your salt consumption. According to numerous studies, adults should limit their daily salt intake to 2,300 milligrams.

Important Takeaway:

Lower-extremity edema can be caused due to various underlying causes, yet it can also be due to a bad lifestyle. An active lifestyle and regular exercise, such as walking, can reduce edema as it works the calf muscles. 


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