Heart and Circulatory System

What causes lower extremity swelling?

A Answers (2)

  • Swelling in the lower leg can mean either possible chronic compartment syndrome of the lower leg or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). With chronic compartment syndrome, the muscles of the lower leg can swell due to the increased compartment pressure. If swelling persists or worsens, medical attention is needed. With a DVT, swelling is caused by a blood clot in the lower leg. This is a potentially life-threatening condition, as the blood clot can dislodge and cause a pulmonary embolism. Medical attention is needed. (This answer provided for NATA by the Eastern University Athletic Training Education Program)
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  • Lower extremity swelling can be caused by trapped fluid. Causes of trapped fluid include:
    • acute kidney failure
    • cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart tissue)
    • chronic kidney failure
    • heart failure
    • hormone therapy
    • lymphedema (blockage in the lymph system)
    • nephrotic syndrome (damage to the vessels in the kidneys)
    • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
    • pericarditis (swelling around the heart)
    • preeclampsia (pregnancy induced high blood pressure)
    • pregnancy
    • prescription medications
    • prolonged sitting
    • prolonged standing
    • thrombophlebitis (blood clot in the leg)
    Also, injuries to the lower extremities, such as a sprain or broken bone, may also cause swelling.
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This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
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