Leg swelling related to fluid buildup

Leg swelling caused by the retention of fluid in leg tissues is known as peripheral edema. It can be caused by a problem with the circulatory system, the lymphatic system or the kidneys.

Leg swelling isn’t always a sign of a heart or circulation problem. You may often experience swelling due to fluid buildup from being overweight, being inactive, after sitting or standing for a long time, or wearing tight stockings.

Factors related to fluid buildup include:

Acute kidney failure
Cardiomyopathy (problem with the heart muscle)
Chronic kidney disease
Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
Heart failure
Hormone therapy
Lymphedema (blockage in the lymph system)
Nephrotic syndrome (damage to small filtering blood vessels in the kidneys)
Pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or naproxen (Aleve)
Pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue around the heart)
Prescription medications, including some used for diabetes and high blood pressure
Sitting for a long time, such as during airline flights
Standing for a long time
Thrombophlebitis (a blood clot that usually occurs in the leg)
Venous insufficiency, chronic (leg veins with a problem returning blood to the heart)


The legs are gravity-dependent. Swelling localized to one leg is often obvious and easy to identify. One leg will appear larger than the other and may be accompanied by the following symptoms as well:

+Redness or warmth of the lower leg
+Pitting: The skin dimples or dents after pressing on the affected area for a few seconds.
+Cramping or soreness
+Feeling of heaviness
+Stretched or shiny skin
+Limited range of motion

Leg swelling related to inflammation

Leg swelling can also be caused by inflammation in leg tissues. Inflammation may be a normal response to injury or disease, or it may be due to rheumatoid arthritis or another inflammatory disorder. You will usually feel some pain with inflammation.

Factors that can contribute to inflammation in the leg include:

Achilles tendon rupture
ACL injury (tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament in your knee)
Baker’s cyst
Broken foot
Broken leg
Cellulitis (a skin infection)
Gout (arthritis related to excess uric acid)
Infection or wound in the leg
Knee bursitis (inflammation of fluid-filled sacs in the knee joint)
Osteoarthritis (disease causing the breakdown of joints)
Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory joint disease)
Sprained ankle