Why are my legs so squishy?
June 10, 2016 8:53 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever gotten marks in your leg after wearing tight socks all day? My legs and feet do this to an extreme degree. Maybe you know why.

One day, about a year ago, I got up from sitting on the floor and noticed that I had a deep dent on my leg, above my inner ankle. The leg looked deformed and it freaked me out. I eventually discovered that the dent was from where my other leg had been resting while I sat with my legs crossed. It took hours to go back to normal. It takes less than 10 minutes in this position to cause the dent to form. While dented, the area around becomes swollen and tight.

I spoke to my Dr, who suggested it was from the sun. He gave me diuretic pills, which did nothing. I have a new Dr and I will be bringing this up in August.

This has continued to happen. I sit on the floor a lot for my job and if my legs are touching, one of them will get smooshed out of shape. If I sit in a chair and my leg rubs against a rung it gets a deep groove in it. My socks and shoes cause deep marks that take forever to go away. My sheets and pajamas make really interesting patterns where they wrinkle under me. I can't wear socks to bed if I'm going bare legged the next day because I will have sock marks on my feet and ankles most of the day. If I sit and press something into my leg for a few minutes I will get a deep impression of that object. I've done it with a coin and it's quite striking looking. The main thing is that I get these marks within minutes of putting pressure on my legs.

Here are some things to know:
I am 43, female, overweight and moderately active. My weight had not changed before this started and is about the same now.

I have well-controlled type 2 Diabetes. I have no nerve damage in my feet or legs.

None of these things happen to my torso or arms. My face often gets pillow marks. My face seems puffy, but that could be from being overweight.

I take various medications, but none that had changed when this started. The only thing that happened around that time was that I got a fire ant bite on my left leg. Not a likely culprit a year later.

My blood pressure is perfectly fine.

My feet and legs don't really look swollen or puffy until they get moved out of place. You can normally see my foot and ankle bones.

I think that's it. The whole thing seems so strange and like it must be a sign of something. It's also really ugly looking and it bothers me. So, what's the deal?
posted by Biblio to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's peripheral edema and/or pitting edema. There can be lots of scary causes, but sometimes it's just the extra weight that does it.
posted by cecic at 9:02 AM on June 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

It sounds like you are addressing this with a doctor, which seems appropriate given you other medical conditions, and while it wouldnt explain the sudden onset of this issue for you, it has been my experience that there is a fair amount of variability in individuals sensitivity to skin-marks.

My wife, for example, can get lasting marks from a crease in a pillow case (or, once, the parallel lines of the elastic material on the cuff of a coat) when closing her eyes/laying down for even just a few minutes. In the absence of other medical concerns i've taken to enjoying it as a personal quirk and one of the many things about her i enjoy. Is it possible you were always this way and only noticed recently?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:11 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sounds like your body is retaining water. Sometimes this is due to a medical condition that needs treatment, sometimes this is just the way you are (it does sound a bit extreme in your case).

What is a bit worrisome/different is if this is something new. I have this to a milder degree but have always had it.

What works for me - cutting back on carbs, sodium, booze; upping my cardio; drinking a lot more water and lot fewer non-water beverages.
posted by sallybrown at 9:15 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes, this is edema. It can be caused by various things, but if it's worsened, especially in the lower extremities, it's worth having a check by your provider. While it may be something benign, it can also be something serious, like heart failure, so it's good to get checked as soon as you can.

If it is found to be benign, keeping well-hydrated and using compression socks can help decrease the effects.
posted by stillmoving at 9:17 AM on June 10, 2016

This sounds like pretty substantial pitting edema, and you should go to your doctor to get it checked out, especially if you've already taken diuretics and are still experiencing this. He might want to know about any cardiovascular history you have, how you sleep at night, and whether your activity levels have changed.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 9:43 AM on June 10, 2016

Nthing edema and definitely get it checked out more thoroughly. I don't have diabetes or other health issues, but I have noticed as I get older that my skin remains "sheet-faced" much longer than it used to when I sleep on a wrinkly pillowcase. So age/collagen/elastin production may be a factor too, albeit a much less important one than edema.
posted by headnsouth at 9:55 AM on June 10, 2016

You need to go back to your doctor about it, but most commonly edema in a situation like what you describe is because of venous stasis/insufficiency. Aside from diuretics, elevating your legs and compression stockings are common treatments.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:12 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Echoing the going back to the doctor. You do have some risk factors for things that can be more serious so follow up as soon as you can.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:42 PM on June 10, 2016

It could also be dermatographia, or pressure hives (which can come bearing edema). You'd get them on your legs and face because you rest more weight there. I have pretty severe dermatographia and I frequently wake up with the pattern of my blanket stippled down my legs. If my doctor scratches me, I get a hive in the shape of what he writes. If I sit on a bench, I get the slats marked into my legs (and sometimes my back). It's an autoimmune reaction that can be spurred by a single allergen, but it's very difficult to get it to go away.

However, given the blood clot, heart, etc problems you could be having, I almost hope you have what I do. Go in to see your doctor right away.
posted by sweltering at 10:30 PM on June 10, 2016

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