Swollen legs and feet: what are the causes and what to do

Swollen legs and feet: what are the causes and what to do

Finding yourself at the end of the day with two bagpipes instead of feet is not so rare. In addition to having to bear the weight of the body, in fact, legs and feet are severely tested by passive circulation, which needs to be activated from the outside: “The body is a complex network of roads and highways, represented by veins and arteries, along which traffic never stops. While the arteries take advantage of the pumping action of the heart, the veins located in the legs need the calf muscles to contract, the soles of the feet to flex and the joints to move to facilitate the return of blood towards the high, “says the professor Alessio Pederzoli, specialist in Vascular Surgery and Angiology at Tiberia Hospital in Rome. “This means that walking stimulates and promotes this complex systemwhich instead stops when we remain seated, lying down or immobile for a long time ».

Why the legs and feet swell

Swelling of the feet, ankles and legs is favored by the long stays that a sedentary lifestyle or some professions require, but also by overweight, obesity and pregnancy due to the increased load on the lower limbs. In summer, then, a nervous reflex is added: the veins dilate to disperse heat and lower the core temperature of the body, often causing a feeling of fatigue, heaviness and sometimes night cramps. “Here because at the sea we must not stay too long in the sun without “cooling” the legs with baths, showers, refreshing sprays or periodic stops in the shade », recommends the expert.

What to do

What are the anti-swelling rules? «We avoid standing or sitting for a long time, but if work really requires it then we interrupt the activity at least once an hour, walking for five minutes in the room », Professor Pederzoli suggests.

“From time to time, then, we perform simple exercises: for example, when seated we raise our legs and rotate our feet or we rhythmically move the toe down and up; if we are standing, on the other hand, let us raise ourselves on the toes several times, in order to contract the calf muscles; if we have to lie down finally, perhaps after surgery or for a period of convalescence, we wear sanitary socks for antithrombotic prophylaxis and we often raise the back of the foot, in order to stretch the calf, “squeeze” the blood trapped in the muscle fibers and make it enter the circulation more easily ».

Other general rules are: keep your body weight under control by following one low-salt diet, rich in fiber and characterized by the intake of an adequate supply of water; lend pay attention to clothing, avoiding clothing that is too tight on the lower limbs or abdomen that can prevent proper circulation; wear comfortable shoes, with a heel of about 2-3 centimeters, whose inclination pleases the soles of the feet to contract correctly.

When to worry

Sometimes, the swelling of the lower limbs it can be pathological, that is, it represents the indicator of an organic disease. “This is the case with heart failure,” warns the expert. «We said at the beginning that the arterial circulation is activated by the heart, which acts as a pump. If the heart muscle beats little or badly, the blood reaches the arterial circulation with difficulty and even less reaches the venous circulation, so it begins to stagnate causing a swelling in the column, which is localized from the knee down “.

Be careful even if a leg feels hot to the touchhardened, with the skin taut and shiny, painful at the level of the calf when we perform the dorsiflexion of the foot (that is, if we flex the foot upwards): it could be avenous insufficiency or even a thrombosis, so it is important to consult a doctor promptly. «These are conditions with a high degree of familiarity, which can however be contrasted with good life habits: practice regular physical activity, maintain an adequate body weight, drink at least 2 liters of water a day and do not smoke. With these rules we can obtain good results », Professor Pederzoli concludes.

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