Leg Swelling

Leg Swelling Symptoms & Signs

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Symptoms & Signs

Leg swelling generally occurs because of an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the tissues of the lower extremity. The medical term for leg swelling from excessive fluid in the tissues is peripheral edema. Persisting indentation of a swollen leg after pressure from a finger is known as pitting edema. Common causes of leg swelling include salt retention, cellulitis, congestive heart failure, venous insufficiency, pregnancy, and medication side effects. Less common causes of leg swelling include blood clots in the leg (deep vein thrombosis), parasite infection, lymphedema, liver disease and cirrhosis, kidney disease and nephrotic syndrome, broken ankle, broken leg, and diseases that cause thickness of the layers of skin, such as scleroderma and eosinophilic fasciitis. In these diseases, the leg swelling is typically characterized by nonpitting edema. When leg swelling occurs for unknown reasons, it is referred to as idiopathic edema.

Symptoms that can be associated with leg swelling include leg pain, numbness, redness, itching, rash, shortness of breath, and ulceration of the skin.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/17/2016

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REFERENCE:

Kasper, D., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2015.

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Causes of Leg Swelling
    • Baker Cyst A Baker cyst, also called a popliteal cyst, is swelling caused by knee joint fluid protruding to the back of the knee (popliteal...learn more »
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    • Cellulitis Cellulitis is an acute spreading bacterial infection below the surface of the skin characterized by redness, warmth,...learn more »
    • Cirrhosis (Liver) Cirrhosis of the liver refers to a disease in which normal liver cells are replaced by scar tissue caused by alcohol and viral...learn more »
    • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Congestive heart failure (CHF) refers to a condition in which the heart loses the ability to function properly. Heart disease,...learn more »
    • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in the deep veins, and can be caused by broken bones, trauma to a limb, immobility,...learn more »
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      Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Article
      • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) facts
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    • Eosinophilic Fasciitis (Shulman's Syndrome) Eosinophilic fasciitis is a skin disease that causes thickening and inflammation of the skin and fascia. Symptoms include...learn more »
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      Eosinophilic Fasciitis (Shulman's Syndrome) Article
      • What are eosinophils?
      • What is fascia?
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    • Hematoma A hematoma is a collection of blood that is outside a blood vessel. There are different areas where hematomas occur including the...learn more »
    • Iliotibial Band Syndrome Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury of the thigh and knee. Symptoms include knee pain and possible swelling. Treatment...learn more »
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      • How do health-care professionals diagnose iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome?
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      • What stretches and exercises are beneficial for iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome?
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      • Where can people find more information about iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome?
    • Kidney Failure Kidney failure can occur from an acute event or a chronic condition or disease. Prerenal kidney failure is caused by blood loss,...learn more »
    • Lymphedema Lymphedema is a condition in which one or more extremities become swollen as the result of an impaired flow of the lymphatic...learn more »
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      Lymphedema Article
      • Lymphedema facts
      • What is lymphedema?
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      • What causes lymphedema?
      • What are the symptoms of lymphedema?
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    • Ovarian Cancer There are many types of ovarian cancer, epithelial carcinoma is the most common. Women with a family history of ovarian cancer...learn more »
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      Ovarian Cancer Article
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      • Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC)
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    • Phlebitis Phlebitis is the inflammation of a vein. Thrombophlebitis is when a blood clot causes the inflammation. Phlebitis can be...learn more »
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      Phlebitis Article
      • Phlebitis facts
      • What is phlebitis and thrombophlebitis?
      • What causes phlebitis?
      • What are the risk factors for phlebitis?
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    • Preeclampsia (Pregnancy Induced Hypertension) Preeclampsia is related to increased blood pressure and protein in the mother's urine. Preeclampsia typically begins after the...learn more »
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      Preeclampsia (Pregnancy Induced Hypertension) Article
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    • Scleroderma Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease of the connective tissue. It is characterized by the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis) in...learn more »
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Other Causes of Leg Swelling
  • Idiopathic Edema (Swelling of Unknown Cause, Typically in Women)
  • Leg Vein Obstruction
  • Liver Failure
  • Medications
  • Nephrotic Syndrome
  • Salt Retention
  • Trauma Injury (Contusion)
Examples of Medications for Leg Swelling


Symptoms & Signs A-Z List