A Patient’s Guide to Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Chronic venous insufficiency, also known as chronic venous disease, is a circulatory problem characterized by the inhibition of oxygen-poor blood flowing upward from the legs to the heart. This problem causes stasis, which refers to the pooling of the blood in the veins. Many patients with venous insufficiency also seek treatment for varicose veins in Houston.
Patients with venous insufficiency can develop a range of symptoms that affect the legs. The condition may cause swelling of the ankles and a tight feeling in the calf muscles. Some patients describe the sensations in their legs as feeling like heaviness, restlessness, achiness, or tiredness. When patients suffer from pain, it typically occurs while they are at rest or just after they stop walking.
Varicose veins are closely associated with chronic venous insufficiency. Because the blood cannot flow upward toward the heart properly, it can accumulate in the lower body. This causes the veins to become enlarged, gnarled, and visible. In turn, varicose veins may increase a patient’s risk of skin rashes, sores, and redness. The pressure from the accumulated blood can contribute to leg swelling. In response to chronic venous insufficiency, the lymphatic system may produce excessive amounts of lymph. Some of the lymph may be absorbed into the surrounding tissues, which exacerbates leg swelling and may contribute to the formation of venous ulcers.
There are several risk factors that make people more likely to develop chronic venous insufficiency. We know that genetics is a very common one. Direct family history of venous insufficiency (parents or siblings) makes you much more likely to develop it yourself. Other risk factors include:
- Standing Professions
- Gender (women are more likely then men)
- Multiple pregnancies
- Heavy lifting
- Another possible cause of chronic venous insufficiency is deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT refers to the formation of a blood clot in one of the deep veins of the body. DVT is most common in the legs. Since a blood clot can obstruct blood flow through the vein, the blood can back up, increase localized blood pressure, and overwhelm the valves within the veins. The valves can stretch and fail to operate as they should, which causes chronic venous insufficiency. Another possible cause is phlebitis, which refers to the swelling and inflammation of a blood vessel. This can trigger the formation of a blood clot.
Patients may try lifestyle modifications to manage chronic venous insufficiency, such as wearing compression stockings or losing weight. Some patients may be good candidates for minimally