Monday, March 05, 2012

Swollen, red leg calls for immediate treatment

Swollen, red leg calls for immediate treatment

Feb 28, 2012

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Recently my left leg has swollen from below the knee down to the ankle and foot. There also is some redness of the skin. Did I get a spider bite, or what? What is the remedy? -- D.Z.

ANSWER: I suppose it could be a spider bite, but the first thought that comes to mind is cellulitis, an infection of the skin and the tissues beneath the skin. The leg is one of the prime sites where this happens. It's a condition that calls for prompt antibiotic treatment. I hope you have seen a doctor before waiting for this to appear in the paper.

Another possibility is a blood clot in one of the leg veins, thrombophlebitis (THROM-boh-flea-BITE-us). It, too, is an emergency situation.

A third cause is obstruction or inflammation of lymph vessels. Lymph is fluid that circulates between cells and tissues. Lymph vessels, also called lymphatics, vacuum up the fluid and return it to the circulation.

The rupture of a Baker's cyst, a behind-the-knee bulge, causes similar signs. It's very painful, and I am sure you wouldn't hesitate to see a doctor if this happened.

I'm not suggesting any treatment because all of these diagnoses are serious and need quick attention. I hope you have gotten it.

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