When to see a doctor

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Seek emergency medical care if you have leg swelling and any of the following signs or symptoms, which may indicate a blood clot in your lungs or a serious heart condition:

  • Chest pain lasting more than a few minutes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Confusion

Also, seek immediate care if your leg swelling:

  • Occurs for no apparent reason
  • Is related to a physical injury, such as from a fall, a sports injury or a 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 (nonprescription) pain medication may lessen painful swelling.
Apr. 11, 2014