One of the most common symptoms we encounter in our practice is from patients who complain of chronically swollen legs and ankles. At first they didn’t pay much attention to them, believing that the swelling must have been due to overexertion or a sprain or something similar, but then the swelling didn’t go away. It grew worse, became painful, and started to interfere with their ability to walk and perform everyday tasks, so they are finally seeking advice from a Flower Mound vascular doctor to find out what’s wrong.
We explain that there are many potential causes for swollen legs and ankles that have become so painful that all they can do is sit and moan “My legs hurt.” These causes include injury, kidney failure, congestive heart failure, and peripheral vascular disease, among others, so as medical doctors we naturally perform an examination to rule these causes out. When they are ruled out, the most likely cause that remains is often something the patients themselves never suspected – vein disease.
How can swollen legs and ankles be related to vein disease?
Your circulatory system has two cycles. The first cycle involves your arteries, which have internal muscles that allow them to pump oxygenated blood to your internal organs and extremities. The second cycle involves your veins, which return the deoxygenated blood to your heart and lungs, but have to do so without any internal muscles to pump blood with. Instead, your veins take advantage of the contractions of the muscles that surround them to provide the pumping action. The blood flow itself is controlled by a series of tiny, one-way valves that open to allow the blood to flow through and then close to keep it from flowing “backwards,” back into the veins. If these valves become damaged by a vein disease called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), they become “leaky” and allow blood to flow backwards and pool in the veins, and is one of the most common causes of varicose veins. It’s also a cause of swollen legs and ankles.
But if it’s just swelling, how serious can it be?
If the swelling is caused by CVI, it can be pretty serious. Symptoms of this disease may start as simple swelling, but this can quickly escalate to include weakness and tiredness in your legs and pain so constant and unmanageable that it can become difficult to walk. Left untreated, CVI can cause changes to the skin on your legs, causing it to turn brown and become tough, brittle, and prone to injuries and sores that do not respond to topical treatment, and do not heal. But the most serious side effect of CVI is that it cripples your immune system and increases your risk of developing much more serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Also, if your legs are constantly so swollen and painful that it’s difficult to walk, imagine how difficult it can become to maintain any kind of regular exercise routine, so your risk of becoming obese also increases.
So how do I find out whether the swelling in my legs is caused by vein disease?
This is a simple question to answer – just pick up your phone and call one of the best vein doctors in Texas today at 972-410-5757 and schedule a consultation with Dr. Robert A. Handley. This examination will be fast (about an hour), painless, and non-invasive, but it will allow Dr. Handley to determine whether your swollen legs and ankles are due to vein disease. If they are, he will explain the different treatment options to you and help you to select the ones will most quickly get you (literally) back on your feet.