Venous Insufficiency Treatment
What is Venous Insufficiency?
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a condition in which the veins in the legs and feet are unable to appropriately circulate blood back to the heart. This condition requires effective Venous Insufficiency treatment to relieve pain and other symptoms.
Unlike your arteries, which travel from the heart carrying oxygen-rich blood to your extremities, veins in the legs and feet must fight against gravity to bring blood back up to the heart and lungs to be re-oxygenated. Usually, your leg muscles will automatically contract to help this process along, and small valves inside your veins act to trap the blood between beats of your heart so it does not travel back down the vein.
When you are in motion, this combination of muscle contraction and valve action usually works very well to keep the blood flowing from the legs up to the heart. However, when you are sitting or standing still – especially for long periods – the muscles and valves can become weakened and blood can begin to pool in the veins, increasing blood pressure and stretching the vein walls, which can lead to complications.
If this occurs with regularity over time, it can lead to CVI and will require Venous Insufficiency treatment.
Venous Insufficiency Symptoms
- Swelling in the lower leg, ankle, and/or foot
- Heavy, tired, or achy feeling in the legs
- Pain while walking or shortly after stopping movement
- The appearance of varicose veins
Swollen and tender ankles are the most common symptom indicating CVI. This swelling may or may not be highly visible, but it will likely result in pain in the ankles and feet as well as a feeling of tightness or heaviness. Seeking Venous Insufficiency treatment at these early stages can provide fast relief.
The increased blood pressure in the veins that are unable to properly circulate blood back to the heart can cause your lymphatic system to produce lymph (a fluid that helps transport white blood cells,) which floods the area suffering edema (swelling) and therefore can add to the swelling in legs effected by CVI.
Venous insufficiency is also closely related to deep vein thrombosis, a condition in which blood clots can form in the deep veins of the legs where blood pools when sedentary, causing an obstruction to blood flow, and potentially more serious complications should the clot dislodge and travel to the heart or lungs.
Venous Insufficiency Causes and Risk Factors
- High blood pressure
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Defective valves in the veins
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
Those who maintain a sedentary lifestyle (sitting and/or standing still for most of the day every day) are at the highest risk of eventually developing CVI since their venous system is continually forced to deal with the stress of increased blood pressure.
Those who are prone to high blood pressure are at even greater risk for obvious reasons, as are those with a history of circulatory problems such as deep vein thrombosis, defective valves, or phlebitis (and inflammation of the walls of the veins.)
As is the case with many ailments, those who are overweight or who smoke are also at an increased risk of developing chronic venous insufficiency.
The demographic most commonly affected is women over the age of 50.
Venous Insufficiency Treatment
While venous insufficiency in itself is not considered a serious or life-threatening condition, it can cause significant pain and a level of disability. So physicians will often focus their efforts on relieving these symptoms of the disorder through pain management, exercise, and the use of mild blood thinners, unless the case is very severe.
Doctors providing Chronic Venous Insufficiency treatment will recommend the following options, based on the patient’s circumstances:
- Compression Sleeves or Stockings – these garments improve circulation in the lower leg, helping the veins move the blood along in the right direction without pooling or clotting.
- Exercise – increasing the strength, flexibility, and endurance of the leg muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons will benefit the whole person, and will often reduce or even eliminate the symptoms of CVI.
- Surgical Options – For the most severe of cases, several surgical options exist including sclerotherapy (chemically preventing veins from circulating blood, therefore bypassing the weak veins), ablation (cauterizing of varicose veins via catheter to achieve the same effect), vein stripping (the surgical removal of weakened veins), bypass surgery, angioplasty, and valve repair.