When the fluid inside your body begins to build up in your ankles, feet, and legs, it causes a condition known as edema. It is a common condition and can affect anyone, though it typically appears in pregnant people or those over 65.
While it is not necessarily a sign of concern, it is often a sign of underlying conditions. Mild edema may go away on its own, but when it lasts for longer than several days, it is important to seek medical attention.
At Jacksonville Vein Specialists, Dr. Mark A. Matey works with edema frequently. Keep reading to learn what edema is and how Dr. Matey treats it.
Many different conditions can cause edema, so when you receive a diagnosis, the next step for Dr. Matey will be determining the exact cause. The most common causes of edema include:
When you spend long periods sitting or standing in one spot, gravity can pull water into your feet, legs, arms, and ankles.
Underlying medical conditions
Multiple medical conditions can cause edema, including thyroid, lung, liver, and kidney disease, and heart failure.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) secondary to:
Weakened vein valves
Most commonly weakened vein valves and CVI make it difficult for your veins to send the equal amount of deoxygenated blood uphill against gravity as the heart did pumping healthy arterial blood downhill to the legs. This prevents tiny cells from getting proper nutrition and the life force of oxygen. When this happens, the unhealthy venous blood builds up, causing numbness, edema, heavy, achy and tired legs. Additionally, spider veins and later progression towards ugly varicose veins accompany CVI .
Fortunately Dr. Matey's team at Jacksonville Vein Specialists is experienced at eliminating this common cause of edema in the legs.
A common side effect of pregnancy, edema occurs because the uterus is putting extra pressure on the blood vessels in the lower half of your body.
Medication side effects
Some medications can cause edema, including pain management and blood pressure drugs.
The main symptom of edema is swelling, but several others can accompany it, depending on the severity. Symptoms can include:
- Pain when walking
- Heavy, achy, tired legs
- Sting, burn, tingle or itching
- Stretched or shiny redddened skin
- Restless leg syndrome or night cramps
You may also feel tightness or fullness in the swollen limb, or it may appear larger than it was previously.
How edema is treated
Edema treatment plans depend on the underlying cause, though typically, compression socks are first used. The compression socks will help improve the swelling of the legs and slow the progression of the most common underlying underlying cause, weakened vein valves. Elevation, exercise and weight loss are always a good idea if you are suffering from lower extremity edema.
A free vein screening will allow the experienced team at Jacksonville Vein Specialists to determine the cause of your edema at either of our Jacksonville offices, Bartram Park and Atlantic Intracoastal areas. If you have any symptoms, call us today for a free vein screening or schedule online to return to your pain-free life.