Swollen Leg

Wound Care and Foot & Ankle Specialist located in Mission Viejo, CA

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Swollen Leg

A swollen leg that’s not caused by an injury is a sure sign of edema, a fluid buildup caused by a blood vessel disease renowned for causing non-healing foot, ankle, and leg wounds. Board-certified podiatric surgeon and wound care expert Thomas Rambacher, DPM, FACFAS, FAPWCA, at Foot Ankle Leg Wound Care Orange County in Mission Viejo, California, protects your health by providing wound care and helping to relieve the swelling. You also need to have the underlying vascular disease treated to prevent recurrent wounds. To learn more, call the office today or connect online to request an appointment.

Swollen Leg Q&A

Why do I have a swollen leg?

Leg swelling that’s not related to an injury is caused by edema. Edema occurs when fluids build up in and around the tissues below your skin. This type of swelling often occurs when you sit or stand too long and in pregnant women.

However, a swollen leg is also a common symptom of a vein condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). And if your swelling is caused by CVI, you’re at risk of developing serious complications, like ankle wounds, foot wounds, and lower leg wounds.

How does a swollen leg develop?

CVI begins when you have damaged valves inside your leg veins. The valves keep blood flowing in one direction: up the leg vein toward your heart. When the valves fail, they let blood go back down your leg. That’s called CVI.

Over time, the blood builds up in the vein, engorging and twisting the vein and increasing the blood pressure in the vein in your lower leg. Signs of CVI include:

  • Swelling in your lower legs and ankles
  • Varicose veins
  • Aching, tired, heavy-feeling legs
  • Red, itchy skin
  • Leathery, discolored skin

In addition to swollen legs, high venous blood pressure pushes fluids out of the vein (in your lower leg). The fluids break down the surrounding tissues and a wound (venous stasis ulcer) appears. Vein disease is the most common cause of venous stasis ulcers in your foot, ankle, and leg.

How are swollen legs treated?

Venous stasis ulcers are dangerous because they don’t heal. Then the open sore becomes infected, and skin and bone infections develop.

Your treatment needs to address the underlying chronic venous insufficiency, the swollen legs, and your ulcer. Dr. Rambacher provides expert wound care based on the severity of the ulcer.

He may only need to clean the wound, apply a dressing, and recommend compression stockings to relieve the leg pressure. Or he may need to take a more aggressive wound care approach if your ulcer is severe or infected.

Vein specialists offer several minimally invasive treatments that eliminate the damaged valves and restore normal venous pressure. If the CVI isn’t treated, the ongoing high venous pressure will make it impossible for your existing wound to heal, or may cause a new ulcer down the road. 

If you have swollen legs and an open wound, call Foot Ankle Leg Wound Care Orange County today or request an appointment online.