Your arteries largely determine your health. The blood they carry is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. From there, it returns to the heart through your veins. Having healthy veins and functioning valves prevents blood from flowing backward. When arteries don’t function well, A serious condition known as chronic venous insufficiency may develop. Knowing the signs and symptoms can help manage the condition.
What Is Venous Insufficiency?
A vein is insufficient when it cannot transport blood back to the heart from your limbs. As a result of improper blood flow, blood pools in the legs’ veins.
Because the vein is blocked, blood cannot flow forward. There are also times when the vein’s valves are damaged or missing, causing blood to leak.
People over 50 and women, in particular, are at more risk of venous insufficiency. If this chronic venous insufficiency occurs in a deep leg vein, it is deep vein thrombosis. This is also known as a post-thrombotic syndrome or phlebitis.
Causes Of Venous Insufficiency
Several factors can cause chronic venous insufficiency, but these are the most common:
- Varicose veins: Occur when the veins become enlarged and overfilled with blood. Varicose veins are usually swollen with a red or purple color.
- Blood clot: Blood clot may develop in arteries or veins; they may develop when there is no injury or not dissolve after an injury heals.
The following risk factors may cause venous insufficiency:
- Cigarette smoking
- Being obese
- Muscle weakness
- prolonged periods of standing or sitting without moving
- Family History of venous insufficiency
- Swelling of the phlebitis
- High blood pressure
Signs and Symptoms Of Venous Insufficiency
There are several symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency, including:
- Pain in the affected vein
- Redness or discoloration in the skin
- Inflamed skin
- Feeling of heaviness in the affected limb
- Weak legs
- Itchy legs
- Thickening of the skin around the ankles
- Leg cramps
- Leg swelling and edema
- An ache that worsens when you stand up and improves when you stand up straight or raise your legs
- A feeling of tightness in the calf muscles
- Leg ulcers
How Do You Diagnose Chronic Venous Insufficiency?
Treatment of chronic venous insufficiency begins with a physical examination. Additionally, your doctor will take a thorough medical history and may order imaging tests to determine the cause of the problem.
Imaging tests may include:
This test measures blood flow through veins by measuring both its speed and direction of blood flow. The gel is applied to the affected area of the skin, and a transducer is pressed against it. The transducer sends sound waves back to a computer to produce images of blood flow.
During a venogram, a contrast dye is injected intravenously into the veins. X-ray machines can’t see the blood vessels because the dye causes them to appear opaque. This helps doctors see the veins on the image.
Venous Insufficiency Treatments
A lifestyle change, medication, or procedure can be helpful in managing chronic venous insufficiency. However, it depends on various factors, including the cause of the condition, your health status, and how will the treatment work.
Venous insufficiency typically get better with medical-grade compression stockings. The compression therapy help move blood flow in the lower leg and ankle while reducing swelling.
Lifestyle changes may be enough to resolve the issue depending on the severity of the condition. Some of these include:
- Maintaining a healthy body weight: Obesity can contribute to developing weakened or blocked valves in the legs. Adopting a healthy diet, and exercising regularly can help you in weight loss and improve the condition.
- Exercise: Increasing your activity levels will get the blood flowing to improve circulation. Strengthening the muscles in the legs can help pump blood toward the heart.
- Prevent and manage diseases: Make sure to get regular checkups and take necessary steps to manage and control any chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure (that can lead to chronic venous hypertension),
- Elevate the legs: Sitting or standing for long periods can cause the blood to pool in the leg veins. Moving your legs will help improve blood flow to the heart. When seated, raising your legs by placing them on a footstool can help improve blood flow if you can’t get up and move around. Avoid crossing your legs.
- Avoid tight clothing. Clothing that is too tight can restrict blood flow. This seems counterintuitive since compression stockings are one of the most popular treatment options. However, medical-grade compression stockings help reduce swelling in the legs and, in turn, help promote healthy blood flow. Tight clothing in general (Spanx garments, girdles, etc.) can restrict proper blood flow and therefore should be worn where possible.
Some Medications to manage chronic venous insufficiency include:
- Pentoxifylline: Improves blood flow and venous return
- Diuretics: Draws excess fluid from the body that excretes through the kidneys
- Anticoagulants: Thins the blood
If venous insufficiency is severe, invasive procedures may be necessary. These procedures include:
- Removing the damaged vein.
- Surgical repair of the valves or veins.
- Vein bypass transplants a healthy vein from somewhere else in the body. Typically, this is the last resort in very severe cases.
- Endoscopic surgery, during which the surgeon inserts a thin tube with a camera attached to see and tie off varicose veins.
- Laser surgery uses lasers to close or fade the damaged vein.
Venous insufficiency can be treated with sclerotherapy in more advanced cases. A chemical is injected into the damaged vein during the procedure to prevent it from carrying blood. Blood will be able to return to the heart through other veins once the vein is closed. After resorption, the damaged vein will disappear.
Sclerotherapy destroys small and medium veins.
The ambulatory phlebectomy is an outpatient procedure that involves your doctor numbing parts of your leg and removing smaller varicose veins from those spots.
Larger veins may require a catheter procedure in severe cases. This invasive procedure involves inserting a catheter into the vein, heating the end, and vein stripping. When the catheter is removed, the vein closes and seals.
You should seek medical attention if you feel like you might be suffering from chronic venous insufficiency. It is a serious medical condition and needs attention. Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and various imaging studies to check the flow of blood, pooling of blood or any blockage that may be present in the veins and advice the best treatment option depending on the severity of venous thrombosis.