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If You Notice This on Your Body, Have Your Legs Checked

Experts warn to watch out for these signs and see a doctor ASAP.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Our legs are incredibly powerful in ways most of us don't think about. Sure we use them to stand, walk, run and jump, but our legs can also warn us of bigger health issues we may not be aware of like cardiovascular disease. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who reveal signs we should pay attention to on our legs and what they could indicate. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT)

Varicose veins on the woman legs,

Dr. Wled Wazni, Director of Stroke at Glendale Memorial Hospital-Dignity Health explains, "Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) or clot formation in the deep veins in your body commonly affects the lower limb. It is a common disorder often seen in people who are wheelchair bound or have underlying blood clotting problems. Signs and symptoms are usually affected on one leg and can include swelling of foot, ankle, or entire leg. In addition, cramping or pain can also occur most typically in the calf. The skin in the affected area can be warm to touch and often may have a reddish skin over the affected area."

Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, MBBS, Ph.D. Professor of Public Health New Mexico State University adds, "One of the most common vascular diseases is deep venous thrombosis affecting nearly a million Americans every year. It is essentially the result of a blood clot that develops in a deep vein. Lower legs or thighs are the most common locations (but can also occur in the pelvis, intestines, arms, etc.)."


Signs of DVT to Watch Out For


Dr. Khubchandani explains, "The common symptoms are pain, feeling of warmth, skin discoloration, and swelling in the affected leg (usually not seen in both legs). DVT should be concerning as the clots could dislodge from the blood vessels in the legs and travel to lungs (pulmonary embolism). Pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening complication of DVT. The risk factors are well known and many are similar to risk factors for other heart diseases (e.g. age, obesity, smoking, sedentary behaviors, family history, just to name a few)."

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Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

woman sits on bed while dealing with pelvic pain

According to Dr. Khubchandani, "Uncommon problems include swelling or pain in pelvis that may be due to Pelvic Congestion Syndrome , musculoskeletal problems, large cysts in the pelvic area, irritable bowel syndrome, bladder or uterus tumors and cysts, and gynecological problems. Sometimes, the obstruction of blood flow may result in leg swelling and pain due to accumulation of tissue fluids. Legs should also be examined and inspected in such cases where pelvic pain or swelling may show unique signs in legs (due to obstruction of blood flow)."

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Black male jogger in black sportswear and athletic shoes sitting on stair outdoors clutching his aching knee

Another thing to be mindful of is claudication, which John Hopkins Medicine describes as, "pain in your thigh, calf, or buttocks that happens when you walk. It can make you limp. It may be a symptom of peripheral artery disease (PAD). This is when narrowed or blocked arteries reduce the blood flow to your legs. At first, claudication pain occurs when you walk a certain distance and goes away when you rest. But as the disease gets worse, the pain can occur when you walk shorter distances. Over time, you may no longer be able to walk because the pain is so severe. Claudication is linked to health conditions that also increase your risk for heart attack or stroke. So you should be checked and possibly treated for artery disease in other parts of the body."

Dr. Parham Yashar, MD FACS FAANS Board Certified Neurosurgeon at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital asks, "Do you ever get pain in your legs while walking? That's an important question to ask for patients who have spinal disease as pain with movement such as ambulation can potentially be a sign of lumbar spinal stenosis as well as inadequate blood flow to the legs. This is a condition known as claudication and patients can either experience vascular claudication or neurogenic claudication."

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Pain or Swelling

woman hands holding and massage her calf, suffering from calf pain

Dr. Khubchandani says, "Many of the diseases that should prompt a leg exam actually originate in or around legs (e.g. infections, inflammation, injury, tumors, neuropathies, and vascular diseases). Many of these diseases are accompanied by severe pain and swelling. Often, blood tests, X-rays, CAT scans, or other diagnostic techniques are warranted to confirm the diagnosis given the wide variety of lower limb problems that initially prompt the leg examinations."

Dr. Michael Hirt, a Board Certified Nutrition from Harvard University and Board Certified in Internal Medicine and is with The Center for Integrative Medicine in Tarzana California explains, "It is not uncommon for a pair of tight socks to leave a slight impression on your legs once removed. However, if the size of the leg above the sock impression is significantly larger than the size of the leg just below the sock impression, then you may be experiencing edema, or swelling of the legs. Both the heart or kidneys are responsible for managing the fluid levels in your body, and when either or both of them are weak, fluid can build up in your legs. A pair of tight socks will squeeze some of the excess fluid up and over the sock line, causing the upper leg to look much larger than it should otherwise be. Excessive salt intake and prolonged standing can also cause or contribute to this visual effect."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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