Five Star Vein and Wellness Blog

Understanding Leg Swelling and Vein Health

Posted by Robert W. Ruess MD | Jun 11, 2013 4:38:54 PM

If you suffer from vein diseases like spider veins (Telangiectasia) or varicose veins, you may have noticed a variety of symptoms. Even though your legs don’t necessarily hurt, they could take on a puffy-looking appearance as they become swollen. It might be even worse at certain times of day.

Here are some of the things you’ll want to know about what’s going on inside your body.

How Do Vein Issues Cause Swollen Legs?

Venous insufficiency is the most common cause of swelling in the lower extremities. In fact one study has indicated that if a patient has swelling that there is an 80% chance that an investigation will find venous disease.

So what is venous insufficiency/disease? Simply, almost all venous disease/insufficiency is caused by dysfunction of the delicate one-way valves that are present in all veins save for the very largest located in the abdomen and chest. When these valves fail pressure in the venous system elevates and the fluid in the venous system tends to back up. When enough pressure builds up fluid escapes the vascular system and can collect in the tissues-this is the swelling that people notice.

What Other Health Issues Can Cause Swollen Legs?

Although venous disease is the most common cause of leg swelling, it is not the only cause. In fact, there are MANY conditions that can cause leg swelling.

To name just a few: congestive heart failure [regardless of the cause of the congestive heart failure], low blood proteins, cancer [which can lead to low blood protein], autoimmune disorders, certain medications, injury, inflammation, lymphedema, and pulmonary [lung] hypertension. Health- There are others.

How Can I Treat My Swollen Legs?

You don’t have to be a doctor to begin treating the swelling in your legs, regardless of the underlying cause. The 1st thing to do is to elevate the foot of your bed. A block of wood about 3” high or a red brick can be put under the bed post at the foot of the bed. You won’t even notice it. However, for the 1st time in your life you will have gravity working for you all night long.

The second non surgical thing that can be done is to wear support stockings. Again, this will help regardless of the underlying cause of the swelling. However, you may need an expert to tell you what type, strength, and brand to use.

The third thing is to begin taking horse chestnut extract. This is available in most stores [including Wal-Mart] that carry herbal products. Studies have shown that this chemical improves venous tone and decreases swelling. The other non-prescription products are Calcium Dobesilate and some of the Rutosides. These two are mainly available in Europe.

Finally, it’s best to consult with a medical professional who is certified as a vein specialist and in good standing with the American Board of Phlebology before ever beginning a course of treatment. These individuals specialize in vein care.

Learn more by scheduling a consultation with Dr. Robert Ruess at As a certified vein specialist, Dr. Ruess can help you determine the right treatment for your individual condition.


Topics: Dr. Robert W. Ruess, Five Star Vein Institute, Swollen Legs, Vein Health, Leg Swelling, Spider Veins, Varicose Vein

Written by Robert W. Ruess MD