The Epidemic of Leg Swelling

Pitting edema can be seen in thin as well as heavy patients.  Support hose and exercise can help you

In the last few years, life style changes such as increases in rapid transit, work hours, and family involvement has brought about the demise of going for nice walks. This has been detrimental to our leg health. Physicians 10 years ago saw 1 of 10 patients with pitting edema. Today it is 8 out of 10 patients who otherwise seem to be healthy have pitting edema. This is in thin as well as heavy patients. Even though our understanding of the venous system has increased and our physician’s diagnostic tools have become better, the incidents of deep vein thrombosis has not lowered.

It is imperative that we promote a restoration of walking to our activities of daily living as a foundation of leg health and to reverse the epidemic of leg swelling. The calf muscle is a secondary pump to the heart to aid in returning the venous blood to the heart for re-oxygenation. The key to getting the most out of this secondary pump is to have a good walk (two miles a day) with unrestricted ankle range of motion at a moderate pace on a relatively flat surface.  This will allow for greatest “pump” from the calf muscle.

Increase walking activity to reduce the epidemic of leg swelling

Dr Dean Wasserman of the Vein Treatment Center of New Jersey believes a patient’s understanding and compliance with wearing compression stockings is key to the results obtained with Sclerotherapy which he performs. He also believes that while wearing compression stockings and walking will not cure venous insufficiency, moderate walks of 2 miles a day with good heel to toe action will enable his patients to “walk off” their edema within an average of 2 weeks.

If you cannot walk because of joint pain, please try riding a bicycle, which will eliminate the impact to your feet or joints. You will still receive the added calf pump action which assists in the blood flow plus you get the added benefit of seeing the neighborhood scenery by going thru the parks with bicycle paths and you will probably be able to meet other people doing the same thing.

The increase in leg swelling is subtle and menacing. Even though we hear much about incidents of edema), we are failing to actively participate in our own leg health by getting more exercise. No matter what we do for exercise, anything is better than being a couch potato and watching television.  Our sedate lifestyles have lead to many physical health problems and shorter healthy lives. Being overweight is one of the most dangerous things we can do to our bodies!  Obesity leads to heart problems, diabetes, and many other diseases.  So let’s wear our support hose and get out there and reverse the epidemic of leg swelling and by walking or bicycling!!

10 Responses

  1. I am interested in a Dr. who is in this special field. I have swelling and burning in both legs and I already wear compression hose EVERY DAY, first thing when I get up. That prevents the swelling, but not the burning. I haven’t been able to find any Dr. that is able to help me in that area. I have gone to a foot Dr., a lymphodemic center, my own physician–they have not had any ideas of what is causing it or what to do. I also walk at the YMCA and bicycle alternately. Please send me some advice. Thank you.

    • Hello Bettie, Thanks for contacting us through
      Here is the website for a Phlebologist:
      on the right choose”Find a Physician or Provider”
      Accept their terms (its ok)
      Put in your zip code and select a distance

      The burning concerns me. I suspect the 15-20 mmHg compression is not adequate to control you venous insufficiency. This may be due to the difficulty you have in putting your stockings on.

      Please watch my Article “Secrets of the Best Fitters”
      Be sure to click on the video on this page and watch.

      Last but not least, here is a link to the Donners
      If your legs are as large, you will need the large calf donner.
      Thanks, Vanda

  2. My problem is the swelling (cronic lymphedima) of my left arm, result of a radical mastectomy done in 1975. Yes I am a survivor. Any news about this issue will be very wellcomed. Thanks Clara

  3. Luckily I still walk for one and a half hours 5 days a week. I am going to be flying to Europe later in August. would open toe or closed toe hose be most appropriate. The closed toe of course compress the toes considerably but would the open toe ones allow pooling in that area?

    • Hello, Good for you! I am so happy to hear lots of our clients are already out there walking! As far a open toe vs closed toe support hose, it is up to your preference. If you normally have trouble with your feet swelling, then the open toe may not be a good choice. If you do not and feel the open toe would give you “a little air and comfort”, then by all means give them a try. Do try the open toe compression stockings much before you leave for Europe to make sure they are what you want. Thanks, Vanda

  4. Dear Vanda, this Newsletter very informative….walked everywhere while physically able, now restricted to exercise bike, 30 min daily of energetic pedalling, I weigh 50kg, wear my support hose faithfully, have appointment with my vascular specialist pending, thank you for your excellent advice, and ongoing support….

    • Hi, Thank you so much for your kind words and support. We always love hearing from our clients. For those of you who do not know the conversion to lbs. of 50 kg is about 110 lbs! You do not have to be over weight to have venous problems! Thanks, Vanda

  5. Are there any compression stockings (tights)
    that have a control top or anything that pulls your tummy in?

    • Hello Sandra,
      Thanks for leaving your comment. Compression panyhose (tights), while they do give some support, do not as a general rule “pull your tummy in”. We want the pump action that is started in the calf muscles to continue until the blood returns to the lungs and heart. The more constriction we create at the waist, the more the continuous flow is disrupted! Thanks, Vanda

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