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Got Edema? Your Socks Can Let You Know

Posted on March 26, 2024

Edema, or swelling in your lower legs, could mean your veins are in trouble. For some people, like Jessica Simpson during her last pregnancy, that swelling is instantly noticeable. (And very troubling!) But sometimes, this symptom is subtle—and hard to detect. For that reason, we tell our patients to look to their sock line for an easy heads-up.

Want to give this a try? When taking off your socks at the end of the day, look for any indentations or grooves on your skin surface. If there are marks on the legs or ankles, you may have edema. And that means it’s time to visit our Georgia vein specialists to diagnose the cause of that swelling.

Causes of Edema

We use the term edema to describe fluid that builds up anywhere in the body. Now, after a long day, it’s not usually a problem if you notice minor swelling in your lower legs. However, if you experience chronic edema, that suggests you’re also experiencing circulatory problems. And that’s why we suggest a diagnostic ultrasound for any patient who comes in with edema—it helps us determine the underlying cause of that swelling.

But what could those causes be? Generalized edema could indicate kidney disease or congestive heart failure. However, edema that’s localized in the legs, ankles, and feet is more common, and more likely a sign of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). This term refers to a condition in which you’ve sustained damage to the valves in your leg veins. As a result, they can’t close fully, allowing blood to flow down to your legs instead of up to your heart. With time, that blood pools in the legs, and some fluid could leak into the leg and foot tissue. At that point, you may notice swelling and inflammation.

Now, CVI isn’t the only cause of edema: other culprits lower leg blood clots (also called deep vein thrombosis or DVT). Edema is common during pregnancy, or during the monthly menstrual cycle. Certain diseases and medications can also cause edema, so we take a detailed medical history at every visit, making sure we accurately determine the cause of swelling in your legs. With an accurate diagnosis, we can create a customized treatment plan, using therapies to reduce swelling and prevent recurring problems.

Treating Lower Leg Swelling in Georgia

There are several ways to relieve edema. First, we can try compression therapy, using external pressure to prevent blood and fluid from collecting in your lower legs. We may also suggest reducing your sodium intake, and getting off your feet, to help manage edema.

At the same time, Radiofrequency vein ablation (RFA) could treat your CVI—and resolve edema in the process. During this invasive procedure; we’ll insert a catheter into a malfunctioning vein, heating it so that it closes permanently. Using just a local anesthetic, RFA is virtually pain free, and won’t cause noticeable scarring.  Best of all, this out-patient procedure takes less than an hour, and patients can return to normal activities immediately afterward. Of course, you’ll need a thorough exam before we can determine your best edema treatment.  So click here to request an appointment,where we can discover the cause of your swelling and create your customized treatment plan!

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