Swollen legs are the result of fluid buildup in the soft tissues of the legs. The medical term is “edema.” Leg edema can be caused by many things. Chronic venous insufficiency can cause increased venous pressure in the lower legs, causing fluid to accumulate. Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) can also cause swelling, as can lymphedema. Increased salt (sodium) and fluid intake can affect the amount of fluid in the legs, as can hormones. Leg edema can also be caused by heart problems, kidney problems and liver disease.

Treatment of leg swelling is directed at treating the underlying problem, such as correcting hormone imbalances, treating heart disease, reducing sodium intake and treating venous insufficiency. Depending on the diagnosis, leg elevation, compression stockings and diuretics may also be indicated as efficacious treatment options.