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What Leg Cramps and Swelling Can Tell You About Your Health

What Leg Cramps and Swelling Can Tell You About Your Health

Leg cramps and swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet are common, particularly as you age. While it’s often nothing to worry about, it can be a warning sign of vein disease in some cases.

It’s tempting to dismiss the symptoms as fatigue after a long day or as stress. However, if your symptoms don’t resolve on their own, it’s time to discuss it with a vein specialist. CA Heart and Vein Specialists in Huntington Beach, California, provides exceptional cardiovascular care. Our team offers effective solutions and treatments for a full range of vascular issues. 

If you experience leg cramps and swelling, our team can perform a comprehensive evaluation to get to the root of your symptoms. Here, we explain what these symptoms could be telling you about your health.

Conditions that may cause leg cramps and swelling

Mild leg swelling is unlikely a cause for concern. However, moderate to severe swelling should be investigated. Here are a few possible causes of leg swelling and cramping.

Varicose veins

One of the most unpleasant symptoms of varicose veins is sudden and painful leg cramps, particularly in the calves. Muscles in your legs can seize and ache without warning, which can be especially aggravating if it occurs while you’re trying to sleep or rest.

Leg cramps are a common complication of varicose veins, as are pain, swelling, and heaviness.

Peripheral artery disease

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), is a buildup of plaque in the arteries in your legs that carry oxygen from your heart to your arms and legs. When you have PAD, fatty plaque that forms gradually inside your artery walls, narrowing your arteries. 

Many plaque deposits have a hard exterior and a soft interior. The hard surface may crack or tear, causing platelets to enter the area, and clots can form around the plaque that narrow your artery even further.

Blood can’t reach organs and other tissues if your arteries become narrowed or blocked by plaque or a blood clot. This damages and eventually kills the tissues beneath the blockage. This occurs most often in your feet and toes. 

Achy legs are a common sign of PAD. 

Venous insufficiency

You may have venous insufficiency if you have dull, aching, or cramping pain in your legs that gets worse when you stand. Venous insufficiency occurs when the veins in your legs have difficulty returning blood to your heart. 

Normally, valves in your legs keep blood flowing back toward your heart, preventing it from pooling in one place. Damaged or otherwise weakened vein valves fail to work as efficiently as they should, which keeps your veins full of blood, especially when you're standing. 

A dull ache, heaviness, or cramping in the legs is typical with chronic venous insufficiency. 

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

Clots can occur everywhere in the body. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a type of blood clot that originates in the pelvis, thigh, or leg, and common symptoms include pain and edema (swelling caused by excess fluid) in the affected area.

DVT causes characteristic swelling and can make your leg feel warm to the touch. If a blood clot breaks free and travels to the lungs, it can obstruct blood flow, resulting in pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal illness.

Treatment for vein disease

CA Heart and Vein Specialists offers the latest treatments and most advanced equipment available. If you’re dealing with persistent leg cramps and swelling, schedule a visit with us for a vein health evaluation. Call 657-206-8630 to get started, or use our online appointment request form available on this website.

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