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.

A close-up of an elderly woman in an exam room having her calves examined because her legs feel heavy.

Legs Feel Heavy?

Do Your Legs Feel Heavy? Here’s What’s Happening Under the Surface…

When your legs feel heavy, it’s usually a symptom of venous insufficiency — but it can also happen from a combination of other factors. Leg heaviness, aching in the lower extremity of your body, and tiredness and fatigue are common symptoms that can sometimes hit you all at once.

It’s even worse when you stand or sit for a long time, although it may feel better when you lie down or elevate your legs. Those suffering from “heavy legs” say their legs are achy, tired, crampy, and stiff. Besides feeling heavy, your legs can also look swollen from circulatory problems, pale or bluish from poor circulation, and bumpy from varicose veins.

Every now and then, many individuals get heavy legs for various reasons. It’s possible you sat too long or worked out too hard during your daily exercise. But you should see a pain management specialist or doctor if the pain lasts more than a few days or your symptoms are bothersome.

Poor blood circulation throughout your lower limbs often causes aching heavy legs. People commonly refer to this condition as “heavy leg syndrome.” In addition to the symptoms already mentioned, tingling, numbness, mild edema (trapped fluid), and varicose veins (twisted or enlarged veins) characterize venous insufficiency. Although your discomfort is usually mild, it still hurts.

Though heavy legs are a common phenomenon, eventually one’s Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) can cause phlebitis (inflammation) and thrombosis (blood clot formation). One-way valves keep blood from flowing backward down your legs, but if these valves get damaged, blood can pool and cause various types of pain, including heaviness.

Your aching heavy legs from an underlying vascular disease is usually treatable, and symptoms will likely improve if you follow your doctor’s treatment plan.


Some Underlying Causes When Your Legs Feel Heavy

People often mistake “heavy legs” for fatigue or simply as part of the gaining process. Many patients aren’t aware of the underlying health issues that contribute directly to when their legs feel heavy. A pain management specialist should monitor you regularly if you have a vascular disease.

Over the years, the varicose veins you are seeing can cause Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI), which can also happen if something damages your valves, such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Additional venous problems include:

  • A condition called “Superficial Venous Insufficiency” (SVI), which causes leg discomfort from increased venous pressure or pooling of blood in the superficial veins of the legs, happens because blood isn’t properly pumped back to the heart. Usually it’s accompanied by swelling, throbbing, and aching in the legs.
  • Despite similar symptoms to SVI, Deep Venous Insufficiency (DVI) affects your deep veins. The difference between SVI and DVI is often hard to tell until a pain management specialist or doctor diagnoses you. SVI and DVI can happen together or separately.
  • Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) can also cause aching heavy legs. Plaque buildup in the arteries makes it hard for the body to deliver oxygen to your lower extremities (hips, legs and feet). As a result, you get the heavy, aching feeling associated with PAD. Symptoms like these are typically associated with increased activity levels, such as walking.

Varicose veins also deserve a quick explainer. Compared to surrounding veins, these look more prominent and knotty. Because of gravity and elasticity loss, blood begins to pool as circulation decreases, and blood clots are possible. In addition to obesity, aging, and hormonal imbalances, occupations requiring long sitting or standing can contribute to varicose veins.


Swollen Leg Treatment: A Healthier Life is Waiting

If you don’t get the right swollen leg treatment for when your legs feel heavy, it can affect your quality of life. Your tired leg sensations are one of the most common vascular peripheral symptoms in society today, affecting up to 40 percent of people in developed countries. Despite this health issue, you can get healthier.

If your symptoms last a long time, you should see a pain management specialist. By reviewing your symptoms, applying the right treatment, analyzing your medical history, and completing any needed tests, you can work toward being pain-free. Ultrasounds and other tests can show how blood flows through your veins, leading to vessel ablation, massage therapy, acupuncture, or intravenous hydration.

Vein ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that seals off (or closes) certain veins. Treatments include varicose veins, spider veins, and venous insufficiency in general. It can be accomplished with radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or laser ablation, where a small probe is used to destroy the “problem veins.” This technological technique collapses a vein by heating it with radiofrequency energy.

Massage therapy and acupuncture therapy are also two options to consider for your aching heavy legs, depending on your circumstance.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t necessarily hit anyone suffering from varicose veins. In general, women, tall people, and overweight individuals are more likely to get it, as are people with a family history of CVI. In addition, those already having DVT in the legs, people who are middle-age or older, and those who are relatively inactive could eventually suffer from CVI.


Home Remedies for When Your Legs Feel Heavy

Before your pain management specialist develops a personalized treatment plan, some daily changes and home remedies can help when your legs feel heavy. Elevating your legs makes your body work less as it pumps blood through your lower extremities. You can ease some of the pressure by propping your feet above your heart level by using a reclining chair or stool.

As mentioned, if you sit or stand for too long, your symptoms might get worse. Since blood circulation may be improved by changing positions, always be on the alert for how you can switch things up while you’re sitting or standing. You can also wear tight compression socks or stockings to promote blood flow in your legs, which is especially helpful for people who work long hours.

You can also fight against heavy or swollen legs by integrating a healthier lifestyle, diet, or choices. Reducing salt intake (sodium) may eventually reduce discomfort caused by swelling if you’re consistent and apply other healthy food-eating habits simultaneously. Believe it or not, some doctors may also tell you to limit your water intake, depending on your medications. Smoking can negatively affect your circulation and make you feel heavy, fatigued, and tired over time — which means these symptoms may go away if you reduce or stop the habit.

To cap things off, stay active, stay away from hot baths, and work on losing some weight. The heat from hot water can widen your veins, which can make blood-flow difficult. Obesity is also a major risk factor for many of the underlying issues causing aching heavy legs — therefore, losing weight may help.

The last tip: Increase your activity levels. Moderate exercise keeps your blood pumping and improves risk factors (high blood pressure). To avoid overexertion, take rest days and breaks as needed.


Wellness and Pain Can Help

When your legs feel heavy, vascular disease can progress even if there aren’t any sideline symptoms. In fact, treatment may be immediately necessary if you haven’t taken action within weeks or months of noticing the heaviness.

A range of treatment options 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.

At Wellness and Pain, we personalize patient care plans based on each patient’s condition and unique circumstances to relieve pain, improve mobility and mental space, and improve your overall health.

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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