When to see a doctorBy Mayo Clinic staff
If you have leg swelling, it's important to see a doctor for a thorough exam and accurate diagnosis.
Dial 911 or call for emergency medical assistance
Go to the emergency room or call 911 or your local emergency number if, in addition to leg swelling, you experience symptoms of a serious heart condition, including:
- Chest pain lasting more than a few minutes
- Difficulty breathing
- Fainting or dizziness
Also, seek immediate care if you know or suspect the swelling is related to a physical injury, such as a fall, sport injury or car accident.
Schedule a doctor's visit
Nonemergency problems related to leg swelling still need prompt care. Leg swelling that is the side effect of a drug can look just like leg swelling caused by a kidney disorder. Make an appointment as soon as possible, so that your doctor can diagnose the underlying problem.
Before your appointment, consider the following tips:
- Put a pillow under your legs when lying down, which may lessen swelling related to the buildup of fluid.
- If you need to stand or sit for long periods, give yourself frequent breaks and move around, unless the movement causes pain.
- Don't stop taking a prescription medication without talking to your doctor even if you suspect it may be causing leg swelling.
- Over-the-counter pain medication may lessen swelling associated with pain.
- O'Brien JG, et al. Information from your family doctor. What you should know about edema. American Family Physician. 2005;71:2118.
- Cho S, et al. Peripheral edema. American Journal of Medicine. 2002;113:580.
- O'Brien JG, et al. Treatment of edema. American Family Physician. 2005;71:2111.
- Treatment of pain and inflammation. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec22/ch336/ch336e.html. Accessed March 1, 2009.
- Wilkinson JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 3, 2009.