It is amazing to me how many patients we see who have suffered with leg swelling or wounds for months or years. They believe that it will just go away, or that the wound will just heal. Sometimes, they have even gone to their doctor, who usually does not even look at their leg. Although mild ankle swelling can sometimes occur just because the weather has been hot, or you have been sitting for a long time, or you had a lot of salt in your diet, the vast majority of the time, there is actually an underlying reason for the leg swelling. This can include such "big" problems such as a heart or kidney problem, a blood clot that has not been diagnosed (especially after an orthopedic procedure or a long car or plane trip), a tumor that is compressing your abdominal or pelvic vessels, or leaky valves in your veins. It is truly important to seek expert help from a vascular surgeon if your leg swelling extends up into your calf, or if it lasts more than a couple of days. This is especially true if it is painful. That is most commonly the sign of a deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and those must be treated immediately to prevent the blood clot from going to your lung and potentially killing you. Pulmonary embolus, when the clot travels to your lung and blocks a main artery there, is the number three cause of death in the United States that nobody talks about.
The work-up for leg swelling almost always will involve a leg ultrasound. This is a painless, quick, and inexpensive test that is diagnostic both for blood clots and leaky valves in the veins. Sometimes, if the problem is in the abdomen or pelvis, an ultrasound or CT scan there may be necessary. If the problems relates to a kidney or heart issue, blood work may be in order. In any case, sometimes, the treatment of the underlying problems that cause leg swelling need to be begun within a few days of its occuring so that one can have the best outcome possible.
If you have a swollen leg, whether it is for a few days or several months, come see the experts at South Bay Vascular Center to help diagnose and treat its cause.