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Swollen Legs

Many patients complain of swelling of the legs, sometimes this involves only the ankles and occasionally it extends to include the whole leg.

I have swollen ankles at the end of the day, is this serious?

Most people who stand a lot will develop swelling of the ankles as the day progresses. If your job involves standing then simple support stockings may help you, it is important to wear good fitting shoes without a high heel.

Can varicose veins cause swelling of the legs?

People with varicose veins may have an inefficient circulation, however, normally when you walk the blood is pumped back towards the heart. This mechanism also reduces swelling, if you have varicose veins this reduces the efficiency of the circulation in your legs and may result in swelling.

Will surgical treatment of varicose veins reduce swelling?

If the swelling is due to varicose veins then surgical treatment to your varicose veins may well help. Formal testing of your legs using non-invasive scans will determine whether or not you would benefit from surgical treatment.

What is lymphodema?

Lymphodema is another condition which causes swelling of the legs and occurs when arteries supplying the leg with blood and veins which take the blood from the leg, become blocked.
If the lymphatic system becomes blocked or if you have a poorly developed lymphatic system, you are at risk of developing swelling.

What can be done about lymphodema?

In most cases lymphodema is treated by the use of elastic compression stockings or the use of an intermittent pneumatic compression pump.

Can lymphodema be treated surgically?

The surgical treatment of lymphodema is usually reserved for very severe cases as nearly all the surgical procedures are associated with quite extensive scarring and surgery is not generally recommended for early lymphodema.

If I have lymphodema how can I prevent it getting worse?

In patients who do have a compromised lymphatic system it is important that you take great care of your feet, avoid getting infections between the toes. Any infection is likely to overwhelm the lymphatics and make the swelling worse so it is important that you treat any infection, including athlete’s foot, early.