I’m no fan of all this reality TV, and save the gossip news for the magazines in the checkout counter and (ahem) the racks in the exam room of my NYC podiatry practice. However a recent picture of a very pregnant, and might I say fashionable Kim Kardashian recently emerged that highlights a certain body feature that is quite large and exceptionally fluid filled. No, kids, keep your minds out of the gutter for this blog, I’m talking about her swollen legs and feet, a common complaint in the summertime in my NYC podiatry office.
There are many factors that can lead to peripheral edema, or swollen legs, which is often a painful and exhausting condition due to the extra weight that is carried in the form of fluid in the legs. Of course it is important to rule out the most serious causes of leg swelling, namely heart or liver failure. In the case of heart failure, the swelling would be accompanied by shortness of breath and fatigue after seemingly minor activity. Barring the history of either of these conditions, most cases of leg swelling are attributable to vein problems, and in some cases lymph channel obstruction.
Both the veins and lymph channels normally drain fluid from the feet. The veins carry deoxygenated blood back up to the heart, and a series of valves ensure that the blood only goes one way- up. Over time, these valves can lose function, allowing blood to seep back down and pool in the legs. During pregnancy, as in Kim and Kanye’s case, there is increased pressure on the veins- like I always say, pregnancy is a multi-system disease- in addition to the added weight and general fluid imbalance, creating a very common scenario of painful swollen legs.
So can this be treated with a high heel shoe?
Thanks for asking, Kim, but not exactly. Treatment generally consists of reduced salt intake, as salt will make the condition worse, and the use of support stockings, as well as a comfortable, wide, maybe even fashionable shoe. And yes, humidity makes the condition worse, which is why I see this very commonly in the summer in my NYC podiatry practice, and why the very season in which support hose are the most uncomfortable is also when they are most beneficial.
So Kim and Kanye, Mazel Tov on your soon-to-be addition. And if your swelling persists, you have our blessing to transition to a flat.
See you in the office.
Dr. Ernest L. Isaacson