Our team of medical experts are ready to help

Your questions answered

Sue asked...

My legs and feet swell.

I am 50 years old. I am 5'4" and weigh 14 1/2 stone - and yes I need to lose weight and am working on that. I have been to my GP today regarding noticing that in the past couple of weeks both my lower legs and feet are swelling as the day goes on, my shoes become tighter, legs heavier and uncomfortable. Both calves (red areas) are also tender to the touch. I am desk based at work but do get up frequently to go to the printer - liaise with colleagues etc... I have had areas of red broken veins on my lower legs for a few years - and have shown previous GP's who said nothing to worry about - everyone gets it. I have noticed that first thing in the morning - when I get up the red areas are not there - but soon reappear. I do have a knotty vein showing in both legs - in my right leg at the side of my calf - worse then the left leg is very obviously a varicous vein (my fathers side of the family suffer badly with them). GP said leakage of fluid from weak veins causing the swelling and has prescribed Fusidic acid and hydrocortisone acetate cream sparingly twice a day. I asked what else I might do to help, and was advised support tights might help. I asked if it would get worse and was advised it won't get any better and that 'they' won't do anything about it til it got really bad. I am wondering whether I should ask to be referred to an AXA doctor (and if so what type of doctor/consultant) or whether there is any general advice that might help.

  • mother-thermometer-doctor-at-hand

    Do you need to see a GP quickly?


    Would you like to speak with a doctor by video or phone at a time that suits you?

    Our Doctor@Hand service, delivered by Doctor Care Anywhere, offers a doctor appointment by video or phone at a time that suits you.

The answer

The most common cause of this sort of ankle swelling is indeed varicose veins. They are common and do get worse with age and in overweight individuals. There is no specific treatment for them other than what you GP has already advised. When they cause severe pain and discomfort, sometimes an operation to remove the vein can help. The operation is reserved for severe cases because it can be unpleasant and takes a few weeks of recovery time afterwards. Of course you could see a specialist (vascular surgeon) for further assessment and advice, especially if you are worried that the veins may not be the reason for this new swelling. If swelling in both legs is new and of quite sudden onset, other causes should always be considered and excluded first and you should have your heart, lungs, abdomen and pelvis examined in more detail.

Newsletter sign up

Sign up to our monthly newsletter, Better Health, to receive our latest health and wellbeing updates.

Sign up to newsletter