What Are Your Socks Telling You About Your Leg Health?
Your socks may be doing more than keeping you comfortable when you’re active, they could be signaling you have a health problem.
“If you pull your socks off at the end of the day and see depression lines on your legs, that’s an indication of edema,” said Anil Kumar, MD, FACC, ABVLM, RPVI, RPhS, FSVM, Medical Director of the Vein Center at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center.
Finding and treating the underlying causes of edema – a buildup of fluid anywhere in the body – are major goals of the Edema Clinic, which takes place at the Vein Center in Prescott Valley.
“Our Clinic takes a comprehensive approach to caring for people with edema,” Dr. Kumar said. “It’s a serious condition that’s often overlooked and definitely underestimated.”
All Edema Clinic patients undergo:
- Extensive Evaluation– To diagnose the cause of the edema, Clinic patients have an ultrasound, lab work and a thorough medical history.
- Compression Therapy– To reduce edema, patients are fitted with compression stockings. Other compression-like options are also considered, including Velcro wraps, multi-layer compression, a lymphedema pump and more.
- Patient Education– To understand and manage their edema, patients learn about lifestyle factors that contribute to their condition.
After this complete evaluation, Dr. Kumar develops individual patient treatment plans that may include:
- Ablation Therapies– To address conditions related to edema, patients may undergo advanced therapies, such as VenaSeal™ ablation therapy.
- Lymphedema Therapy – To help reduce swelling for patients with hard-to-manage edema and lymphedema, another form of edema that usually occurs in one of the arms or legs.
Not All Edema is the Same
There are different kinds of edema, including generalized and localized edema.
“Generalized edema may signal an underlying medical condition like congestive heart failure, kidney disease or cirrhosis,” explained Dr. Kumar.
Localized edema – usually involving the legs, ankles and feet – is the most common type of edema. People with leg edema will notice fluid buildup after a long day on their feet or during air travel. They may also see changes to the skin (thickening, pigmentation) as well as experience itching, aching, cramping and restless legs.
The most common cause of leg edema is chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a progressive illness due to damaged valves in the leg veins. The inability of these valves to close completely leads to venous stasis, blood pooling in the legs instead of circulating back to the heart. Because of venous stasis, excess protein rich fluid escapes into the tissues of the legs and feet. This causes edema and inflammation.
When the lymphatic system is not able to drain this extra fluid, secondary lymphedema ensues. Known as phlebolymphedema, this is the most common form of lymphedema accounting for 50 percent of all cases.
“Phlebolymphedema is a chronic disabling illness that affects people both physically and psychologically,” said Dr Kumar. “It must be diagnosed in the early stages when treatment is most effective.”
Lymphedema Therapy at the Edema Clinic
To ensure Edema Clinic patients receive the full spectrum of lymphedema therapies, Dr. Kumar is collaborating with a lymphedema therapist. Lymphedema therapies include: complete decongestive therapy, manual lymphatic drainage, lymphedema pump, exercises, skin care and more. Dr. Kumar – who is board certified in numerous edema-related specialties including, Vascular Medicine, Cardiology, and Venous and Lymphatic Medicine – oversees patient care.
“Because of the common alliance of venous insufficiency with the lymphatic system,” noted Dr. Kumar, “the American College of Phlebology recently changed its name to the American Vein & Lymphatic Society.”
Want to learn more about the Edema Clinic? Talk to your physician or call the Vein Center at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center at (928) 759-5890. Visit DignityHealth.org/YRMC for more information about our vein health services.