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Leg Swelling

The Causes of Leg Swelling

Leg Swelling

Leg swelling or leg edema is a common medical problem. The underlying cause of leg swelling should be determined and treated. It should not be ignored nor be treated with fluid pills unless the cause has been determined first. There are six main causes of leg swelling.

The most common cause of leg swelling is chronic venous insufficiency. Vein disease or vein disorders occur twice as often as coronary artery disease, three times more commonly than peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, and almost five times more common than congestive heart failure.

Vein disease has six names:

  1. Venous stasis
  2. Varicose veins
  3. Chronic venous insufficiency
  4. Venous hypertension
  5. Venous reflux disease
  6. Lymphedema

In this disease the veins in the legs lose their ability to carry the used blood back up and out of the legs to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys to be filtered, replenished with nutrients and oxygen, and sent back out to the body. When this occurs, high pressure develops in your leg veins. This high pressure creates leakage of fluid and other blood components into the leg outside of the blood vessels. When the veins are unable to effectively carry the blood out of the legs with each heart beat your heart pumps blood into your legs under higher and higher pressures. This causes a generalized engorgement of the veins in your legs and along with this comes additional leakage.

In addition, the blood in your legs becomes somewhat toxic as it has not been filtered by your kidneys. The amount of oxygen in the blood drops below normal. The nutrition is used up, and the waste products from your legs accumulate in the uncirculated blood in your legs. This creates a generalized toxic state in your legs. This “toxic” blood makes your legs sick and causes inflammation. All of these factors create swelling.

Swelling from veins is best in the morning and worst in the evening. When you lie down at night the blood finally comes back out of your legs and it is then filtered by your kidneys, nutrition is added by your intestines, your lung adds oxygen, your liver treats the blood, and your heart is able to pump the clean fresh blood back out to legs that are no longer engorged, the pressure in the legs is back to normal, and the blood is now clean and healthy. By the morning hours your legs should feel at their very best and the cycle begins again as you stand up and gravity along with broken venous circulation prevents the blood from returning again.

Other Causes

Other Causes of Leg Swelling in order of frequency are Congestive Heart Failure, Kidney Failure, Liver Failure and Lymphadema.


No matter what the cause, leg swelling is never normal, and an underlying cause should be determined and treated accordingly. To diagnose the cause of swelling in your legs, contact Dr. Morgan in Houston at Lone Star Vein Center. We specialize in treating vein disease using non-invasive and painless procedures such as VNUS Closure to restore the health of your legs. Schedule an appointment and call (281) 292-0121 to learn more.

9303 Pinecroft Dr. Suite 350 The Woodlands, TX 77380
Phone: 281-292-0121

6243 Fairmont Parkway Suite 200 Pasadena, TX 77505
Phone: 281-991-8346
Fax: (866) 722-4293