Did You Know There Are Tiny Valves in Your Veins?

Rendering of the circulatory system showing veins in the body

The circulatory system is an amazing array of arteries, veins, and organs that work together in unison. Every second of every day, the circulatory system works to transport approximately 2,000 gallons of blood, delivering oxygen to body tissues, and providing the energy your cells require.

Once red blood cells have unloaded their oxygen molecules, they need to be freshly oxygenated. ― That is where the veins come into play. The deep veins in your legs are responsible for moving a considerable amount of blood to your heart. To effectively accomplish the task, these veins use special valves.

How Vein Valves Work

When functioning perfectly, veins and vein valves stand as a marvel of engineering. Imagine: to successfully reach your heart, blood often has to travel upwards, against the force of gravity, maneuvering in and around bones, muscles, and joints in virtually endless configurations.

There are a few processes at play in this complex physical feat:

  • Within your veins, one-way valves open to allow blood to pass through.
  • Once blood advances, the precise leaflets of these valves close to prevent reverse blood flow.
  • Muscle contractions gently squeeze vein walls, propelling blood upwards.

In optimal conditions, blood reaches your heart, lungs, brain, and other essential organs whether you are upside-down, lying down or standing up. But sometimes, this beautiful system starts to malfunction; a condition referred to doctors as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).

What Is Chronic Veinous Insufficiency?

Simply put, CVI occurs when a few valves in your veins no longer seal completely. Though they still work, it is with minuscule leaks. As vein valves that close improperly allow small quantities of blood to flow backward, CVI can eventually cause blood to pool or clot up, leading to inflamed varicose veins or muscle pain.

If you think that you may have chronic venous insufficiency, it is very important not to panic. While the condition can be dangerous, it is readily treatable; therefore, past sufferers can still enjoy the activities they love.

How Can You Tell?

These symptoms may mean it is a good idea to request a free vein screening.

  • Tender, painful areas
  • Swelling around or above the ankles
  • Heaviness when moving legs
  • Reddish-brown skin
  • Skin discomfort or itchiness
  • Visibly enlarged surface veins

What Are Some Risk Factors for CVI?

As standing or sitting in the same position increases vein valve pressure, leg injuries, long work hours and long-distance travel can play a part in the development of chronic venous insufficiency. ― Other risk factors include:

If you fall into one or more of these categories, you need not be alarmed. Keeping an eye on warning signs can help you prevent future problems.

Treatment Options

There are a number of excellent treatments that alleviate CVI issues, many involving simple lifestyle changes, including regular exercise, use of compression clothing or helpful medications.

Nonsurgical medical treatment options also provide significant relief:

  • Endovenous laser ablation (EVLA): After using ultrasound vein mapping to determine how each vein is functioning, a minimally-invasive, laser-equipped catheter is used to successfully seal problem areas and redirect blood flow to healthy veins.
  • Sclerotherapy: Another patient-friendly procedure, sclerotherapy involves using a special liquid or foam to close improperly functioning veins and shrink their size. This has a very positive effect on the appearance of varicose or spider veins.

Work With Friendly, Experienced Doctors You Can Trust

Some people with valve difficulties or varicose veins believe that they must live with the condition. However, nothing is further from the truth. Thanks to modern technology and the expert care of our doctors at the Northern Illinois Vein Clinic, patients can experience notable relief and regain the physical appearance they know and love.

To find out more about our team, learn about CVI success stories or to request a free screening, please contact us via our online form or by calling (779) 696-8346. We consider it a privilege to stand beside you.

Appointment Request Form

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

 

Image: MDGRPHCS