Should I See a Leg Swelling Specialist?
You should see a leg swelling specialist if the swelling in your leg or calf is affecting your daily activities. Unlike most conditions affecting the lower extremities, swelling caused by venous insufficiency does not correlate with physical activity. Venous insufficiency can range from a vague, dull discomfort from calf swelling to a frank, throbbing soreness or even a sharp piercing leg pain.
New York Vein Treatment Center’s doctor treats calf swelling, leg swelling, and other symptoms and complications of venous disorders. We have helped thousands of patients in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, as well as the surrounding New York area.
Swelling, or “edema,” caused by venous insufficiency, is often confused with heart- or kidney-related edema. In the case of heart or kidney failure, the body retains too much liquid – so diuretics, or water pills, are an appropriate treatment. However, swelling of the lower extremities due to venous insufficiency is not caused by the retention of too much liquid but by the improper distribution of liquid throughout the body. As such, diuretics are usually ineffective and inadvisable for the treatment of edema related to venous insufficiency.
Leg or calf pain is usually brought on or worsened by periods of decreased mobility, especially while standing but also while lying down. In most cases, the calf pain improves with walking since contractions of the leg muscles help to move the blood up out of the legs.
However, venous pain typically increases throughout the day and is more severe in hot weather. One of the hallmarks of venous insufficiency is leg pain during the first few steps, which diminishes with continued walking but comes back with prolonged walking. This pain is called “venous claudication” and gradually increases in the ankles while being relieved by sitting down to rest, as opposed to “arterial claudication” which is characterized by sudden cramping of the calf muscles.
Leg cramps or calf pain at rest are almost always due to venous insufficiency. Abnormalities of circulation during this condition result in a “contamination” of the muscles with end-metabolites. When our body is reclined or in a horizontal position, venous circulation of the lower extremities becomes near normal. At this time, our muscles develop a low threshold for contractions, where even small movement can trigger a prolonged and painful spasm, typically referred to as “cramping,” or “Charlie horses.”
When Should I Be Worried About Leg Swelling?
Persistent leg swelling, as well as night leg pain, indicates venous insufficiency that has gone untreated for a long time. This indicates “trophic changes,” or pathological developments in the tissue structure. The earlier stages of the swelling can be relieved by rest and limb elevation, but the later stages of trophic changes lead to sensory neuropathy or damage of the nerve receptors. This damage can cause a variety of sensations – from dull, blunted pain to severe pain like burning. Left untreated, this leg swelling and tenderness can lead to decreased sensation and eventually numbness.
Leg and calf swelling of superficial venous insufficiency is a part of our defense mechanism— a signal that our body sends to our brain indicating the location of the damage. That is why it is incorrect to treat only the symptom rather than the pathological condition responsible for it.
Dr. Khitin is a known expert in venous disorders, phlebology, and cardiovascular and thoracic medicine. Call us today to schedule your consultation. New York Vein Treatment Center has a leg swelling specialist in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the surrounding New York area to help manage any symptoms and complications of venous disorders.
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