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Leg swelling

Leg swelling: Introduction

Leg swelling is an abnormal condition and a symptom of a variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions. Leg swelling, also called edema, can result from infection, inflammation, trauma, and circulatory disorders and cardiac disorders and other abnormal processes.

Depending on the cause, leg swelling can be short-term and disappear quickly, such as when it occurs due to sitting during a long airline flight. Chronic leg swelling often indicates a potentially serious disorder, such as congestive heart failure. Other serious conditions that can cause leg swelling include blood clots (deep vein thrombosis), kidney disease, preeclampsia, or liver disease.

Leg swelling can be the result of a wide variety of other conditions, diseases or disorders. These include orthopedic conditions, such as bone fractures, or a cast that is too tight. For more details about causes, see causes of leg swelling.

Leg swelling may occur with or without pain depending on the underlying disease or disorder that causes it. There are many other symptoms that can accompany leg swelling. Symptoms can include paresthesia, leg weakness, decreased range of motion and shortness of breath.

Diagnosing leg swelling and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination, including a neurological examination. This includes testing a person's gait, reflexes, muscle strength and sensation.

Injuries to the leg that cause leg swelling, such as fractures, can often be diagnosed with an X-ray. Ligament and tendon injuries can be diagnosed using MRI.

A serious blood clot in the leg, called deep vein thrombosis, are diagnosed using a combination of the blood test called a D-dimer and ultrasound imaging.

Congestive heart failure is diagnosed using a variety of tests and exams. These include listening with a stethoscope to the sounds that the heart and lungs make. Certain lung sounds, such as a bubbling or crackling sound, point to congestive heart failure. Certain abnormal heart sounds can also increase the suspicion of congestive heart failure. Other tests include an EKG, chest X-ray, echocardiogram, stress test, angiogram and a blood test called a B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP).

Preeclampsia is diagnosed by regularly checking the blood pressure for hypertension and testing a woman's urine for protein during pregnancy.

A diagnosis of leg swelling and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because it can be mild or not last for long periods of time. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of leg swelling.

Treatment of leg swelling involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing it. Some conditions can be easily and successfully treated and cured, while others may require more intensive treatment and may not have an optimal prognosis. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of leg swelling....more »

Leg swelling: Misdiagnosis

Diagnosing leg swelling and its cause may be delayed or missed because the leg swelling may not be severe or bothersome enough for a person to seek medical care. Leg swelling is a symptom of many different conditions, so a thorough medical evaluation is needed to ensure an accurate diagnosis of the reason for leg swelling. ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Leg swelling:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Leg swelling. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Leg swelling: Causes | Symptom Checker » | Assessment Questionnaire »

Causes of Types of Leg swelling:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Leg swelling:

Review causes of types of Leg swelling in more specific categories:

Review causes of more specific types of Leg swelling:

Leg swelling: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Leg swelling, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

Symptom Checker

Leg swelling Treatments

Treatment plans for leg swelling are individualized depending on the cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the underlying or associated cause and helps to minimize leg swelling so that a person can lead an active normal life.

Some common ...Leg swelling Treatments

Review further information on Leg swelling Treatments.

Stories from Users for Leg swelling

Real-life user stories relating to Leg swelling:

Message Boards for Leg swelling

Symptom specific forums: The following patient stories in our interactive forums and message boards relate to Leg swelling or relevant symptoms:

Diagnostic tests for Leg swelling:

Various tests are used in the diagnosis of Leg swelling. Some of these are listed below :

  • Physical examination
    • Temperature
    • Inspect legs for size and symmetry, any bruises, swellings, discoloration, ulcers or rashes If swelling is due to edema , is it pitting(skin is indented when pressure is applied) or non- pitting - can assist in determining cause of edema (swelling) e.g. bilateral pitting edema occurs in heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, nephrotic syndrome, malabsorption form the gastrointestinal tract; unilateral pitting edema occurs in deep venous thrombosis and with compression of large veins by pelvic tumor or lymph nodes; non-pitting edema occurs in hypothyroidism and lymphedema.
    • Signs of edema - If swelling is due to edema ,examine for signs of possible causes such as congestive cardiac failure , liver cirrhosis , nephritic syndrome, deep venous thrombosis , hypothyroidism and varicose veins (e.g. examine for enlarged liver which may suggest cirrhosis or cardiac disease; ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity) along with enlarged liver would suggest cirrhosis of the liver or constrictive pericarditis; enlarged liver without ascites would suggest congestive cardiac failure.
    • Feel the leg for local causes of swelling, pain and tenderness
    • Examine for signs of acute lower limb ischemia (sudden obstruction of arterial blood supply from thrombosis (clot) or embolism (plug) - e.g. pitting edema of foot, absent pulses, cool pale skin, loss of hair on lower feet and legs, ulcers on foot, gangrene of skin on toes.
  • more tests...»

Leg swelling: Animations

Medications or substances causing Leg swelling:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Leg swelling as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Drug interactions causing Leg swelling:

When combined, certain drugs, medications, substances or toxins may react causing Leg swelling as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

  • Nifedipine and quinidine interaction
  • Adalat and quinidine interaction
  • Adalat CC and quinidine interaction
  • Nifedical XL and quinidine interaction
  • Nifeditab CR and quinidine interaction
  • Procardia and quinidine interaction
  • Procardia XL and quinidine interaction
  • more interactions...»

Leg swelling: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Leg swelling may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Research the causes of related medical symptoms such as:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Leg swelling

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Leg swelling:

Assessment Questionnaire: Questions your doctor may ask (and why!)

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Leg swelling. These will include a physical examination and possibly diagnostic tests. (Note: A physical exam is always done, diagnostic tests may or may not be performed depending on the suspected condition) Your doctor will ask several questions when assessing your condition. It is important to openly share any pertinent information to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

It is also very important to bring an up-to-date list of all of your all medical conditions, medications including dosages, and names of numbers of any specialist you see.

Create your printable checklist here.

See Leg swelling Assessment Questionnaire (17 listings)

Leg swelling: Deaths

Read more about causes and Leg swelling deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Leg swelling

Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps, particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes. However, more »

Organs affected by Leg swelling:

The list of organs typically affected by Leg swelling may include, but is not limited to:

Detailed list of causes of Leg swelling

The list below shows some of the causes of Leg swelling mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Leg swelling?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Leg swelling. Of the 576 causes of Leg swelling that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 4 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 8 causes are "common" diseases
  • 7 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 2 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 10 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 561 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Leg swelling:

The following list of conditions have 'Leg swelling' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Leg swelling or choose View All.

View All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V W Y






















Conditions listing medical complications: Leg swelling:

The following list of medical conditions have Leg swelling or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.



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Causes of Leg swelling Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Leg swelling based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Travel - has the patient travelled recently?
  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Doctors and specialists: Who should I consult about Leg swelling?

    Depending on the seriousness of the onset of Leg swelling, you may want to consult one of the following medical professionals.

    Important:In extreme cases, always seek advice from emergency services :

    Classifications of Leg swelling:

    Subtypes of Leg swelling:

    Calf swelling (34 causes), Ankle swelling (107 causes), Foot swelling (423 causes), Oedema of the lower extremity (26 causes), Unilateral oedema of the lower extremity (8 causes), Big toe swelling (11 causes)

    Medical Conditions associated with Leg swelling:

    Swelling symptoms (3730 causes), Leg symptoms (2751 causes), Limb symptoms (3592 causes), Arm symptoms (1619 causes)

    Symptoms related to Leg swelling:

    Leg pain (214 causes), Leg stiffness (33 causes), Knee swelling (25 causes), Ankle swelling (107 causes), Foot swelling (423 causes), Groin swelling (39 causes), Heart failure (274 causes), Liver disorders, Cirrhosis of the liver, Kidney disease, Nephrotic syndrome, Hypoproteinemia, Acute glomerulonephritis, Hypothyroidism (106 causes), Pericarditis (84 causes), Constrictive pericarditis (27 causes), Starvation

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Medical News summaries about Leg swelling

    Our news pages contain the following medical news summaries about Leg swelling and many other medical conditions:

    Evidence Based Medicine Research for Leg swelling

    Medical research papers related to Leg swelling include:

    Research More Evidence-Based Medicine at

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Leg Swelling:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


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