The circulatory system – Swollen Legs

The circulatory system – Swollen Legs

Our circulatory system is a complex network of the heart, lungs, veins, arteries, lymph glands and other systems to help our bodies cope with daily life.  There are varying degrees of swelling in the legs and usually the body copes well in managing a water balance.  This is however more difficult if you have heart problems, breathing conditions or circulation problems like diabetes and Raynaud’s disease to name a few.   If you had recent surgery, your legs may also be more at risk of swelling due to inactivity or pain.

Having swollen legs can cause various problems including DVT, ulcers, cellulitis and in worse cases gangrene or necrosis.

As we get older, our circulation systems can deteriorate.  Inactivity and loss of mobility remains the main culprit in causing swelling in the lower limbs.  We all need to be aware of how we move and even sit.  It is not recommended to sit with your legs crossed as this cuts off the circulation.

When flying over the holidays, make sure you move around regularly and you may benefit from compression stockings to help reduce the risk of DVT.  Changing your position regularly helps to relieve pressure and allows the muscles and veins to circulate fluid and blood.

If you already have very swollen legs, you may need to speak to your GP regarding diuretics to reduce the swelling.  It may be necessary to get the legs bandaged to reduce swelling.  Always inspect your legs for any broken skin as it could lead to infection and leg ulcers.

Try to elevate the legs at times to help with circulation but make sure you change your position regularly.  Keep moving and walk short distances more often.

Those with a sedentary lifestyle may be more at risk of developing swollen legs and complications.  Physiotherapy can support by teaching exercises, massage and improving mobility to reduce circulatory problems.  Our physiotherapists at Silver Physio can advise you on how to prevent circulation problems or manage it.   Please contact us at Silver Physio for more tailored advice.