All that “swells” is not fluid. It may be fat, fibrosis or scar tissue. It also could be edema, according to Anil Kumar, MD, MRCP (UK), FACC, RPVI, RPhS, FSVM, DABVLM, Medical Director, The Vein Center at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC).
Leg edema – an acute buildup of fluid in the tissues – becomes progressively worse if it’s not treated. Find out if your leg swelling is due to edema by taking the thumb test. Press your thumb against a bone for 10 seconds. If it makes a dent, the swelling is due to fluid.
“Leg edema is a very common condition,” said Dr. Kumar. “It’s five times more common than heart failure. But, it’s important to remember that edema is a symptom, not a diagnosis.”
During Say So Long to Swelling: What You Need to Know about Leg Edema – a YRMC Healthy Conversations presentation – Dr. Kumar explores the most common reasons for leg edema. They include:
- Underlying medical conditions
Dr. Kumar also highlights how best to treat leg edema. It begins with early diagnosis to ensure the condition doesn’t cause permanent skin changes like stasis dermatitis (skin inflammation in the lower legs) and venous eczema (a condition that causes the lower legs to itch and swell). And, spoiler alert: Dr. Kumar does not recommend diuretics as a treatment for leg edema.
Want to learn more about edema? Download this fact sheet: 10 Facts About Leg Edema from Dr Kumar.
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