Heavy Legs

Summary for patients:

Heavy Leg Syndrome is the term used to describe a feeling of general discomfort and “heaviness” in the legs. Although it is usually relieved by elevation and rest, it can require medical attention. Wearing compression hosiery and regular exercise are the best ways to improve your circulation.

For Health Practitioners:

Heavy Leg Syndrome is often caused by standing or sitting in one position for a long period of time and can be exacerbated by obesity and pregnancy. Heavy legs are the first sign of Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)1 . An increase of fluid in the tissues of the leg caused by incompetent valves allows venous reflux and increases the pressure in the valves (venous hypertension). The increase in pressure causes fluid to leak into the surrounding tissues which causes swelling. This is known as oedema.2

Treatment for heavy legs is usually regular exercise to improve circulation, elevation of the legs to reduce the build-up of fluid in the legs and wearing compression hosiery to reduce the risk of swelling and to help the calf muscle pump return venous blood back to the heart.

  1. CEAP classification (Clinical aEtiological Anatomical Pathophysiological)
  2. Chronic venous insufficiency – Society for Vascular Surgery (December 2009)