Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a condition that occurs when your veins are not properly able to send blood back to the heart as it is pumped around the body.
Instead of being sent efficiently back to the heart, blood flows in the opposite direction, resulting in blood pooling in your veins. Read on to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this condition. If you’re concerned about symptoms of CVI, request a free vein screening or contact us today.
The most common cause of CVI is high blood pressure, which can damage blood vessels, especially in the legs. The constant high pressure against the valves makes them weak and unable to effectively transport blood back to the heart.
The following other factors also could put you at increased risk of CVI:
A job that requires standing and/or sitting for long periods
Deep vein thrombosis or blood clots in the veins of the legs
Family history of CVI or blood clots
Trauma, injury, or surgery to the legs
Most patients have no symptoms of CVI. This is why if you experience any of the below symptoms, you should see a vein specialist right away. Common symptoms include:
Leg or ankle swelling
Pain while exercising or walking that subsides when you rest
Tight sensation in the legs or a feeling of itching in the legs
Discolored or brown skin near the ankles
Varicose veins or spider veins
Leg cramps and muscle spasms that are painful
Restless leg syndrome or an irresistible sensation to move the legs
Ulcers on the legs that are difficult to treat and slow to heal
CVI can be life-threatening if not treated and can lead to more serious conditions such as deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
You can decrease your risk of CVI by eating healthy (avoiding foods high in sugar and carbohydrates), maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising, avoiding sitting and standing for long periods of time and avoiding smoking.
Diagnosing CVI is relatively straightforward. We will ask you about your medical history and will examine your legs for any visible signs of venous disease, such as skin discoloration or swelling. After an initial examination, our team of experts will perform a painless duplex ultrasound, which will allow us to view the veins and determine the speed of the blood flow and the direction it is flowing. If you suffer from CVI due to faulty valves, it will be easily seen during this test.
There are a number of treatments for CVI that range from conservative to invasive. Depending on your condition, we may recommend the use of compression stockings to help with swelling and various treatments for skin problems such as ulcers or itching. Exercise is also a common therapy.
What Causes Venous Insufficiency?
Chronic venous insufficiency disease occurs when the valves in your veins are not performing correctly, allowing blood to flow backward instead of back to the heart. Often, the damage to the valves in your veins is caused by high blood pressure.
The pressure on veins weakens the valves and makes them less effective. The condition may also be caused by varicose veins and blood clots in the legs.
CVI can cause serious health issues and should be treated as soon as possible. Pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis, both potentially fatal, can be caused by untreated CVI.
Some risk factors increase the chances of a person suffering from CVI, include:
Long periods of standing or sitting
High blood pressure
Blood clots in the legs
What Are the Symptoms of CVI?
Many people suffering from CVI will not display any symptoms of the disease. If you do experience symptoms, it’s important to act on them by seeking medical care.
CVI typically affects the legs, causing discomfort and pain. The symptoms include:
Pain resulting from exercise and movement
Skin discoloration around the legs and ankles
What are Treatment Options for Venous Insufficiency?
If you suspect you may have CVI, doctors will consult your medical records and assess your veins using duplex ultrasound. The process maps your veins, including obstructions and damaged areas.
With chronic venous insufficiency disease, there are several options available depending on the patient and the severity of the condition. In mild cases, preventative measures may be prescribed, including compression socks to improve blood flow, leg elevation, and regular exercise.
Medications to thin the blood or otherwise improve blood flow are another option. More severe cases may require a treatment to close off the damaged vein to avoid complications. Laser surgery can be used to close the vein, and it is a minimally invasive procedure, especially compared to the traditional open surgery options that have been used in the past.
Why Choose Northern Illinois Vein Clinic
At Northern Illinois Vein Clinic, you can expect professional treatment and expert assistance from all members of our team. We take pride in offering specialized vein treatment and have completed over 20,000 procedures since opening. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and get started finding a solution to your chronic venous insufficiency.
Long days of teaching exacerbated the burning and restless feelings in Kendra Brauer’s legs. The bruises and visible veins also provoked curious questions from her second-grade students if she wore anything shorter than full-length pants. Brauer first noticed a bruise on her leg when she was in her mid-20s. Slowly, more veins showed up and […]