Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Varicose veins affect more than 30 million women and men in this country and they are often more than a cosmetic problem. Vein problems can be easy to ignore, especially in the early stages when there is little discomfort or change in appearance. However, when left untreated, abnormal varicose and spider veins can progress and multiply and lead to health problems.

Here are the top 7 warning signs for vein disease, each can cause discomfort and have serious consequences including:

  • A dull ache or feeling of heaviness.
  • Leg cramps.
  • Tingling and itching sensations.
  • Pain from standing.
  • Leg swelling.
  • Changes in skin color and condition on legs and ankles.
  • Ulcers on the skin

What is chronic venous insufficiency?
Chronic venous insufficiency is when the valves in the veins are not working properly. Veins move blood towards the heart, and they have valves that keep the blood from leaking the opposite way. When the valves are leaking, that is when there is venous insufficiency.

What causes chronic venous insufficiency?
There are multiple different causes for chronic venous insufficiency. The most common causes are genetics, pregnancy, and obesity. Leg trauma, and blood clots are also common causes for chronic venous insufficiency as well. Other causes are: smoking, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, and phlebitis- which is inflammation of a superficial vein.

Is chronic venous insufficiency dangerous?
If chronic venous insufficiency is left untreated there are multiple outcomes that can occur. These include- pain, inflammation, swelling, and leg ulcers may result as well.

How is chronic venous insufficiency diagnosed?
When a patient comes in concerned about chronic venous insufficiency, a medical history and physical examination is always conducted. A venous ultrasound is conducted to assess the blood flow, the valves, and sizes of the veins.

What are the treatment options for chronic venous insufficiency?
There are many different treatment options for chronic venous insufficiency. Compression stockings, antibiotics, leg elevation, and exercise are examples of non invasive treatment. Radiofrequency ablation, sclerotherapy, and phlebectomies are other “surgical” treatment options.

Can I do anything to prevent chronic venous insufficiency?
Ways to prevent chronic venous insufficiency are maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising, avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time, and not smoking.

How common are these symptoms?
Leg swelling, leg pain, and cramping (also restless leg syndrome) are very common symptoms for venous insufficiency.

What are common causes of these symptoms?
Leg pain, swelling, and cramping are mainly caused by varicose veins. For some patients, varicose veins can lie under the surface of the skin, so many patients are not aware that their symptoms are associated with the veins. When veins are leaky, blood can pool and be stagnant which can cause the leg pain, swelling, and cramping.

How can the causes be diagnosed?
The causes can be diagnosed by coming into a medical office for a physical examination. Swelling can be visible, and a venous ultrasound can be conducted to confirm whether or not these symptoms are caused by varicose veins, and venous insufficiency.

What are the treatment options?
Treatment options are compression stockings, exercise, antibiotics, radiofrequency ablations, sclerotherapy, and phlebectomy.

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