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Foot, leg, and ankle swelling
Alternative namesSwelling of the ankles - feet - legs; Ankle swelling; Foot swelling; Leg swelling; Edema - peripheral, Peripheral edema
Abnormal buildup of fluid in the ankles, feet, and legs is called peripheral edema.
Painless swelling of the feet and ankles is a common problem, particularly in older people. It may affect both legs and may include the calves or even the thighs. Because of the effect of gravity, swelling is particularly noticeable in these locations.
Foot, leg, and ankle swelling is common with the following situations:
Swollen legs may be a sign of heart failure , kidney failure , or liver failure . In these conditions, there is too much fluid in your body.
Other conditions that can cause swelling to one or both legs include:
Certain medications may also cause your legs to swell:
Call your health care provider if
Call 911 if:
Call your doctor right away if:
Also call your doctor if self care measures do not help or swelling worsens.
Your doctor will take a medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination, with special attention to your heart, lungs, abdomen, legs, and feet.
Your doctor will ask questions like the following:
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include the following:
Avoid sitting or standing without moving for prolonged periods of time. When flying, stretch your legs often and get up to walk when possible. When driving, stop to stretch and walk every hour or so. Avoid wearing restrictive clothing or garters around your thighs. Exercise regularly. Lose weight if you need to.
Update Date: 9/21/2003Jacqueline A. Hart, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Boston, Ma., and Senior Medical Editor, A.D.A.M., Inc. Previously reviewed by David Webner, M.D., Department of Family Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (5/23/2003).
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT