Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Chronic venous insufficiency is a condition that occurs when the veins in your legs are unable to send blood back up to your heart. The arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of your body while the veins carry deoxygenated blood back to the heart. The valves in the veins stop the blood from flowing backward and ensure that the blood flows upwards to the heart.
When the valves are not working properly, they’re unable to stop blood from flowing backward. This causes blood to pool or gather in the veins of your legs.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency Symptoms
Symptoms of this insufficiency include:
- Swelling in your legs or ankles
- Tight feeling in your calves
- Itching in your legs
- Pain in your legs when walking and may stop when at rest
- Thickening of the skin
- Skin color that turns brown, often near the ankles
- Varicose veins
- Feeling of heaviness in your leg
- Leg ulcers
- Restless legs syndrome
- Painful leg cramps or muscle spasms
Chronic Venous Insufficiency Causes
Valve damage in the veins, causing the pooling of blood in the veins is the common cause of chronic venous insufficiency. Conditions such as blood clots and varicose veins are the common causes.
Risk factors for developing venous insufficiency include:
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of exercise or inactivity
- Leg damage resulting from injury or trauma
- Swelling of a vein close to the skin
- Sitting or standing in a position for a prolonged period
- Deep vein thrombosis
- A family history of venous insufficiency
Chronic Venous Insufficiency Diagnosis
Your medical history will be reviewed. A physical exam will be conducted.
Imaging tests may be ordered.
1. Duplex ultrasound
This test is used to check the speed and direction of blood flow in the veins.
This test helps your doctor see your veins more clearly to check how blood flows.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency Treatment in Waco, TX
Treatment for this venous insufficiency is aimed at improving blood flow.
Strategies to improve blood flow include:
- Wearing compression stockings to apply pressure at the ankle and lower legs. Wearing compression stockings helps to improve blood flow and reduce leg swelling.
- Keeping your legs elevated above your heart when lying down can also improve blood flow.
- Separate your legs and keep them uncrossed when seated.
- Regular exercise can also improve blood flow.
Medications may be prescribed to help improve your condition. Medications that may be prescribed include:
These drugs help to extract fluid from the body. It allows frequent urination.
These medications are also known as blood thinners. They help to thin the blood to prevent blood clots.
Surgery may be needed when other strategies and medications fail to improve your condition. Surgical procedures that may be recommended include:
1. Surgical repair of veins and valves
If the veins and valves are not badly damaged, they could be surgically repaired.
2. Radiofrequency ablation
This minimally invasive procedure is done to close up the affected vein. Heat is transmitted into the affected vein to close up the vein. When the vein is closed, fewer blood pools in the leg and blood flows through other healthy veins.
This procedure involves injecting a chemical into the affected veins to scar the veins so that blood can no longer flow through them. Blood then flows to the heart through other healthy veins.
During this surgery, the affected vein is tied off so that blood no longer flows through it.
5. Vein stripping
If the vein or valves are severely damaged, the damaged vein will be completely removed.
6. Vein bypass
This surgery involves harvesting a healthy vein from another part of your body and then creating a bypass with the healthy vein for blood to flow through.
7. Laser surgery
This procedure involves the use of lasers to either fade or closes the damaged vein.
Chronic venous insufficiency vs varicose veins
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins that are often dark purple. The chronic type of venous insufficiency can cause varicose veins. Weak or damaged valves in the veins are usually the cause of varicose veins. A varicose vein is one of the symptoms of the chronic type of venous insufficiency.
Chronic venous insufficiency stages
It is a progressive vein disease. The foremost stages are the mild and moderate stages while the last stages are the severe stages.
Stage 1: Spider Veins
This is the first sign of the chronic type of venous insufficiency. Spider veins are tiny, colorful, web-like veins. They usually appear on the surface of the skin on the lower legs.
Stage 2: Varicose Veins
The appearance of varicose veins is stage two. While spider veins are tiny, varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins that appear and rise above the surface of the skin.
Stage 3: Leg Swelling
At stage 3, your leg begins to swell. This shows that venous insufficiency is progressing. Your legs and ankles may feel heavy and you may notice pain or difficulty putting on your shoes. You may find it difficult to use your legs as your mobility is limited.
Stage 4: Skin Discoloration
Skin discoloration is an indication that the disease has progressed rapidly. You may develop thin, dry, or hardened skin. Your skin may turn dark brownish or purplish.
Stage 5: Venous Ulcers
At this stage, the disease has progressed to its final stage. The development of venous ulcers indicates that it has gotten to their very worst state. Venous ulcers are slow or non-healing wounds that form on the lower legs. Venous ulcers need timely and specialized treatment. If left untreated, it could lead to tissue death (gangrene) and may cause the affected leg to be amputated.
Chronic venous insufficiency exercise
Walking, bicycling, leg lifts, yoga, and swimming are the best exercises for chronic venous insufficiency.
Can chronic venous insufficiency be cured?
It cannot be cured. A damaged vein or valve may be impossible to repair. It will need to be closed up or removed.
Is venous insufficiency life-threatening?
It is not life-threatening and can be effectively treated. However, if left untreated, it could progress and get worse and may cause the affected leg to be amputated.
What happens if venous insufficiency is left untreated?
If left untreated, it could progress and get worse. Venous ulcers may develop, which may ultimately cause the affected leg to be amputated.
Can venous insufficiency affect the heart?
Venous insufficiency may not affect the heart. However, it is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
What supplements are good for venous insufficiency?
B-vitamins are good for venous insufficiency.
Can you live with chronic venous insufficiency?
You can live a normal life with chronic venous insufficiency. However, you need to undergo the right treatments and keep to healthy lifestyle changes.