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A close-up of the potential results of untreated heaviness in legs, an elderly man's lower leg bruised and swollen.

Heaviness in Legs

The ‘Heaviness in Legs’ Question: Diet, Age, or Both?

When you’re in moderate to good health, it’s likely your “heaviness in legs” issue and related pain isn’t due to any major heart conditions. Oftentimes, this phenomenon is caused by reduced blood flow through your veins due to a confluence of aging and other factors, which is a different yet connected issue altogether.

No matter how old you are, you may not be in the greatest health — or at least as healthy as you once were. Take a minute and gently press your lower leg. Is the indent from your fingers visible for more than a few seconds? It’s likely you have a buildup of excess fluid.

If you have trouble putting on or taking off socks or shoes, you may have swelling that you shouldn’t ignore any longer. Individuals suffering from swollen legs often endure puffy, stretched or shiny skin, and those particular areas may even feel tightly stretched and painful to the touch.

While immediate pain management and medical care is available, your diet should not be overlooked. Maintaining healthy eating and better foods can pay off as you start your pain management journey. How to relieve swelling in legs is a process. We first must understand what’s happening under your skin.


Heaviness in Legs: What’s Happening to Me?

As we age, our veins’ valves deteriorate, resulting in decreased blood flow to the heart and possibly heaviness in legs. On top of aging, unhealthy diets and lifestyles only exacerbate the problem.

Swelling occurs when blood pools instead of circulating properly. In older adults and those not taking their diet as seriously as they should, “venous insufficiency” is the most common cause. Due to the direct connection between this health problem and your heart’s circulatory system, swelling in your legs can be accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pains, abnormal heart rhythms, and inflammation in other areas (such as your hands or abdomen). Leg swelling is often a sign of a more serious problem.

Unfortunately, these symptoms sometimes present themselves alongside more serious circulatory problems. Some of these problems include Superficial Venous Insufficiency (SVI), Deep Venous Insufficiency (DVI), and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). However, that’s not all. Other problems include Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), varicose veins (twisted and enlarged veins), and edema (swelling from trapped fluid). A number of other conditions can also cause swelling in your legs as well, including infections, injuries, and arthritic conditions.

First, it’s probably no concern if the puffiness goes away within a day or two. However, longer-term symptoms should be evaluated by a pain management specialist, especially if it affects only one leg (rather than both) or is compounded by other bodily symptoms.

Secondly, how to relieve swelling in legs should be your immediate priority. Some transformational food and eating habits — and home remedies — can help as your pain management specialist develops a treatment plan.


What to Think About Cholesterol, Fats, Sugar, and Sodium

While your heaviness in legs problem is often caused by underlying issues such as obesity, a healthier diet can help you combat the swelling. It’s a powerful thing when you apply better food-eating habits regularly each day.

The process begins with cholesterol, a fat-like substance. Cholesterol builds cell membranes, vitamin D and hormones, but too much can be harmful to your heart. Red meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are all large sources of cholesterol.

Carbohydrates play a role as well. These “macro-nutrients” provide energy to the body by being converted into glucose (or molecular sugar). Carbohydrates include starches — such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, and cereal — sugars and fiber (fruits, whole grains, nuts, etc.).

Of course, fats cannot be ignored. Butter, palm oil, coconut oil, cheese, and red meat contain saturated fats. Likewise, trans fat (trans-unsaturated fatty acids) pose a great threat. They are partially hydrogenated oils manufactures create by turning liquid oils into semi-solid fats at room temperature. People often use them in cookies, cakes, crackers, frozen meals, frosting, and fast food).

A healthier option is monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature while polyunsaturated fats are solid at room temperature. These unsaturated fats are found in fish, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, and other healthy foods and oils.

If how to relieve swelling in legs is important to you, remember to limit red meat, processed meats, processed and added sugars, salt and high-sodium foods, highly processed foods, saturated fats, and trans fats to support a healthy heart and circulatory system. Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, and olive oil or grapeseed oil — and don’t be stingy with the herbs and spices (as opposed to salt).


Food Considerations, Practical Advice, and Heaviness in Legs

A heart-healthy diet doesn’t necessarily command a specific number of meals or timing of meals. However, you should spread your meals evenly throughout the day. You should do this as you incorporate eating strategies to combat heaviness in legs.

What’s a healthy eating strategy? For starters, place the saltshaker out of sight when you’re dining out. Consider substituting steamed vegetables for mashed potatoes and gravy or a side salad for fries. These healthier trade-offs are key to changing your habits and mindset.

You can also ask for sauces and dressings on the side instead of being smothered over your appetizer or entrée. Before ordering, ask for nutrition information and choose a low-sodium, low-fat option. Pick water over soda and alcohol every opportunity you have.

When shopping at your local grocery store, choose pre-packaged and canned foods that are reduced sodium, low sodium, or salt-free. Select frozen vegetables without salt or sauces — or when buying anything frozen for that matter. Whenever possible, you should choose poultry, fish, and lean meats with the lowest amount of sodium and saturated fat. Also, you should avoid cured, salted, or smoked processed meats.


Taking the Food Considerations Home

When cooking at home, use high-heat olive oil instead of butter when boiling, steaming, roasting, or lightly sautéing. Baking, broiling, stir-frying, sautéing, or grilling are preferred over deep-frying for poultry and fish. Remove the salt shaker from your table, since even a little “shake” can add a lot of sodium. Instead, spice up your meals with herbs, spices, garlic, onion, and citrus zest and juices.

If you have a special diet, feel free to adjust the recipes. Add less salt than called for, substitute butter for a healthier fat (such as olive oil or grapeseed oil), or use whole grains instead of refined grains. Reduce your prepackaged food consumption by cooking from scratch or semi-scratch as much as possible.

Believe it or not, how to relieve swelling in legs comes down to incorporating these food considerations and practical advice into your lifestyle — for just about anyone.


Smart Choices, Home Remedies, and Consistent Exercise

Some patients choose to kickstart their cholesterol-lowering journey with a meal delivery service as they get on track to defeating their heaviness in legs. Those with chronic diseases affected by diet — including cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol — could benefit from this convenient option.

Besides your diet, remember that rest, ice, compression, and elevation are also common ways in how to relieve swelling in legs. Ice packs wrapped in a towel help numb the pain and reduce swelling when applied to the affected area to prevent further injury. By using a reclining chair or stool, you can elevate your feet above your heart level and relieve some of the pressure. You might also experience worse symptoms if you sit or stand for too long.

Moderate exercise also keeps your blood pumping and improves risk factors such as high blood pressure. You should increase your exercise activity levels, as physical activity supports cardiovascular health and helps prevent heart failure and numerous other chronic diseases. High-intensity interval training, which alternates short bouts of intense exercise with less vigorous ones, has been shown to support and strengthen the heart.

Living a healthy lifestyle, eating the right foods, being physically active, and managing stress can all have a significant impact on your risk of congestive heart failure. Nevertheless, it can also be a useful sidekick as you look into immediate pain management treatment for your heavy and swollen legs.


Wellness and Pain Can Help

A range of options for treating heaviness in legs are available at Wellness and Pain. We offer conservative treatments, routine visits, and minimally invasive quick-recovery procedures. We can keep you free of problems by providing lifestyle education and home care advice to help you avoid and manage issues, quickly relieving the inhibiting lifestyle conditions when complications arise.

Covered by Most Insurances and Most Unions

Wellness and Pain accepts most major insurance plans. Here is a list of some of the major insurance plans we accept. If you do not see your insurance plan listed, please call our office to confirm.

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