Venous insufficiency is a condition in which the blood in your legs has begun to flow backward. Your veins have a valve containing two flaps, and these flaps prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction. After your oxygenated blood has been pumped from your heart to your legs, the veins should take the deoxygenated blood back to the heart.
If you have venous insufficiency, the blood begins to pool in your legs instead. Read on to learn more about venous insufficiency symptoms, causes, types and treatment.
Your symptoms may vary from someone else with the same condition, though there are some signs many patients have in common. Patients with venous insufficiency symptoms may experience one or more of the following:
- Varicose veins
- Swollen ankles and legs
- Dull, heavy aching in the legs
- Dark brown patches of skin
- Cramped legs
Someone with venous insufficiency could also begin to notice open sores on the legs or have issues with blood clots. The skin could also become thick or hard on the ankles and legs, almost resembling leather. Restless leg syndrome and Charley horses could also indicate you are suffering from venous insufficiency.
This condition can affect a variety of people, with an estimated 40% of individuals already dealing with it in the United States. Women seem to be diagnosed more often than men, and it is a more frequent condition found in those over 50 years of age.
There are a handful of causes that could lead one to believe he or she is suffering from venous insufficiency. Some common causes include being overweight, pregnant, having previous leg damage, and having a family history of the condition. Other causes include:
- Phlebitis, or inflammation of the veins close to the skin
- A lack of exercise
- Sitting or standing for extended periods of time, leading to high blood pressure
- Deep vein thrombosis, or a deep vein blood clot
Venous Insufficiency Types
Though there is only one type of venous insufficiency, there are three stages your condition could fall into. The severity of your symptoms would determine which stage you are at. Keep in mind, the more advanced the situation, the more serious your condition.
Stage one is characterized by swollen legs and ankles, as well as a change in the pigmentation of your skin. Stage two would include all of stage one, with the addition of dermatitis.
Stage three adds ulcers and varicose veins to the symptom list. No matter which stage you feel you’re at, it is important you are treated immediately for the best results.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Every patient will require a different avenue for diagnosis, though some common procedures may include duplex ultrasounds, a visual examination and a look at your medical history. Treatment is also given on a patient-by-patient basis. Some treatments are more invasive than others, with compression stockings being on the conservative end of the list. Exercise is common in both prevention and treatment.
An examination and treatment are essential the moment you realize what you may be dealing with. Though venous insufficiency is not a life-threatening condition, it typically becomes chronic, especially when not treated right away. Without treatment, you could end up with chronic venous hypertension, dermatitis, and venous ulcerations.
Finding Answers to Your Questions
To learn more about venous insufficiency, including what it is and how to prevent it, contact Northern Illinois Vein Clinic. With the right diagnosis and the right professionals, you can live an active, pain-free life without the constant worry this condition can create. Call Northern Illinois Vein Clinic today at 779-696-8346 to discuss your concerns or to schedule an appointment for your free screening.
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