Leg swelling occurs when tissues in one’s legs get bulged and irritated. It is also caused by broken bones, leading to arthritis.

There are two main reasons for leg swelling

1. Edema (fluid build-up)

Edema swelling occurs when extra fluid is accumulated in one’s body tissues. It affects various body parts, primarily the legs, feet, arms, ankles, and hands. It is caused by medications, pregnancy, or chronic medical diseases like kidney failure, cirrhosis of the liver, or failure of the heart.


Followings are the signs and symptoms of the edema

  • Increase in abdominal size
  • Skin pressed for a few seconds
  • Swelling in legs or arms
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Pain in the chest


Some causes are given below:   

  • Steroid drugs
  • Estrogens
  • Medications for high blood pressure
  • Pregnancy
  • Excess salty food consumption

2. Inflammation

Leg swelling occurs when tissues in one’s legs get bulged and irritated. It is also caused by broken bones, leading to arthritis.

Causes of Fluid Build-up:

Following things can cause edema or extra fluid build-up in an individual’s legs;

  1. Vein problems: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and thrombophlebitis: DVT refers to forming a blood clot in a vein of one’s leg. It could pull off and move to the lungs, known as a pulmonary embolism. Thrombophlebitis is also known as superficial thrombophlebitis, in which clots are formed near the skin’s surface and cannot break off. The first sign of DVT and thrombophlebitis is swollen leg. You must visit to doctor if you experience leg swelling along with the following other symptoms:
  2. Cramping, tenderness, or leg pain
  3. Warm skin
  4. Red or blue-tinged skin
  5. Insufficiency of varicose veins and chronic venous: In this condition, the blood does not flow up toward one’s heart due to valves inside the leg vein. The blood backup causes a bluish cluster of varicose veins on the skin and leg swelling.
  6. Problems in the kidney: Persistent kidney diseases occur when the kidney doesn’t work correctly. The accumulation of fluid in the body caused by waste material and water filtration in the blood leads to swelling of the leg and arm. Following are the symptoms:
    • Difficulty in breathing
    • Nausea
    • Fatigue
    • Bleeding and bruising
    • Extreme thirst
  7. Medications: Following prescribed drugs can also become one of the utmost reasons for leg swelling:
    • Heart medicines like Amlodipine and Nifedipine.
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Celecoxib.
    • Medications for diabetes like metformin.
    • Hormone medicines such as estrogens or progesterone.
    • Antidepressants.
  8. Pregnancy: In pregnancy, the baby’s growth creates pressure on the leg vein that causes slow blood circulation and fluid builds up.
  9. Other diseases: Leg swelling occursdue to the following diseases:
  10. Gout: Uric acid crystals cause sudden and painful attacks in one’s joints due to drinking or eating rich food.
  11. Osteoarthritis affects the knees.
  12. Rheumatoid arthritis: In this disease, the immune system attacks the tissues in joints.
    • Knee bursitis: It is an inflammation in the bursa. Bursa is a fluid-filled sac cushions bone, skin, muscle, or tendons.
    • Lymphoedema: Lymph fluid collects in the tissues due to the blockage of lymph nodes.
    • Baker’s cyst: It is a soft swelling at the back of one’s knee.
    • Skin infections: Pus causes skin infections.
    • Skin reactions: Bites, medications, or sting cause skin reactions.
  13. Legs swelling due to injuries, strains, sprains, and broken bones: Following injuries cause leg swelling:
  14. Achilles tendon rupture: It is the largest tendon of one’s body. Calf muscles are connected to heel bones in this tendon that helps in walking, running, and jumping. If it disturbs, ones can feel a sharp pain in the lower legs and back of the ankle.
  15. Cellulitis: Severe infections occur when bacteria like streptococcus and staphylococcus crack one’s skin. This disease is widespread in the lower legs.
  16. An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear: It runs in front of one’s knee and holds the bones of the lower legs. When it tears, pain and swelling occur.
  17. Being overweight: If body weight increases, blood circulation is decreased and causes fluid build-up in the legs.
  18. Standing or sitting for an extended period: Muscles cannot pump the body’s fluid back toward the heart when muscles are inactive. The reservation of blood and water can cause swelling in the legs.
  19. External causes of swelling: Following are the external causes of leg swelling:
    • Insect bites
    • Fluid retention
    • Menstruation
    • Hormonal changes
    • Hives
    • A rash

Symptoms of Leg swelling

Following are the symptoms of leg swelling:

  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Red spots
  • Blisters
  • Dimpled skin
  • Warmth
  • Tenderness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Achy legs
  • Dry skin
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting

Home remedies to ease the swelling

 Try the following treatments to reduce the swelling:

  • Perform exercise daily.
  • Take a salt bath.
  • Do not wear tight clothes, especially around your thighs.
  • Keep an ice pack on your legs for 20 minutes every day.
  • Rest your legs.
  • Try massage.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat a healthy diet.


Following are the complications of leg swelling:

  • Difficulty in walking
  • Stiffness
  • Decrease in Blood circulation
  • Decrease in elasticity of veins, arteries, joints, and muscles
  • Risk of skin ulcer
  • Painful swelling
  • Risk of infection
  • Scarring between layers of tissues
  • Stretched skin

Diagnosis of swellings:

Doctors can perform various tests to diagnose leg swelling and its causes. First, the doctor can check the symptoms and perform a physical examination to check tenderness in the affected area. Its examination includes;

  • Imaging test: Ultrasound gives more information about the cause of swellings. Imaging test might tell:
  • Bone fracture
  • Inflammation in muscles and tissues
  • Arteries and veins blockage
  • Specialized tests: CT scans or MRIs also give more information about the cause of the swelling.


  • https://www.healthline.com/health/joint-swelling#causes
  • https://www.webmd.com/dvt/why-legs-puffy
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/edema/symptoms-causes/syc-20366493#:~:text=Edema%20is%20swelling%20caused%20by,%2C%20feet%2C%20ankles%20and%20legs
  • https://patient.info/signs-symptoms/oedema-swelling/swollen-legs