Many people experience swelling in their legs and ankles from time to time. In many cases the swelling is temporary, caused by injuries, sprains, or sitting or standing too long. In some cases the swelling can be the result of a reaction to over-the-counter pain relief medications or prescription medications used to treat diabetes and high blood pressure. But if the swelling persists for some time, or is recurring, it may be a symptom of a more serious condition, one that requires treatment from a vein specialist in New Orleans.
What New Orleans residents should know about swollen legs and ankles
Whatever the base cause, the actual swelling is usually caused by a buildup of fluid in the tissues of your legs, referred to as peripheral edema. This in turn can be caused by a problem with your circulation. In a healthy circulatory system, your arteries convey nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to your extremities, and your veins pump deoxygenated blood and waste products back to your heart and lungs for renewal and recirculation. Arteries have their own internal muscles to pump blood, but veins rely on a series of tiny, one-way valves that open and close in response to the movement of your arms and legs. These valves open to allow blood to pass through, and then close to keep it from flowing backwards.
Vein disease occurs when these valves become “leaky” and fail to close properly, which allows blood to flow back into the veins and pool there. This condition, called chronic venous insufficiency, or CVI, is the primary cause of varicose veins, but is often the most likely cause of chronically swollen legs and ankles. Left untreated, the swelling caused by CVI can quickly become so painful that it becomes difficult to walk, and it also impairs your overall circulation and immune system, increasing your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
If that’s not bad enough, there is another potential cause of swelling
Another form of vein disease that can cause swelling in the legs and ankles is thrombophlebitis, more commonly known as deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. If you have DVT, blood clots (thrombi) have begun to form in the veins of your legs. These clots are dangerous to your health even if they remain where they formed, because they severely impair the proper functioning of your circulatory system. But the real danger occurs if the clots break loose and travel through your veins to your lungs or brain. There they can cause a pulmonary embolism or stroke. These conditions cause over 300,000 deaths per year in America.
Another dangerous effect of leg swelling is inactivity
If you fail to seek treatment for chronically swollen legs and ankles, the pain associated with them can become so intense that you stop exercising and become inactive. This has been identified in recent years as one of the greatest dangers to good health, because inactivity increases your likelihood of death from all causes. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that inactivity kills more people worldwide per year than smoking.
So what can you do about swelling in your legs and ankles?
If the swelling has persisted more than a few days, the most important thing to do is consult a physician to determine what’s causing it. One of your first steps in doing this should be to contact a Louisiana vein doctor and have a venous health screening. These screenings are painless, non-invasive and take only about an hour, but they can either rule out the presence of vein disease quickly, or detect the presence of CVI, DVT and other venous diseases. If the swelling turns out to be caused by vein disease, the best New Orleans vein treatment center can propose fast, painless, minimally invasive treatments that can eliminate it and restore your legs and your circulation to their normal state of health.
So if you want to do something about your swollen legs and ankles other than complain about them, pick up your telephone and call Dr. Randall S. Juleff today at La Bella Vita Laser and Vein Center.