Veins are responsible for returning blood back to the heart after it has exchanged oxygen and nutrients in the tissues. Healthy veins feature a series of internal “one-way check” valves that move the blood through the veins and back to the heart. When these valves malfunction, blood may begin to pool inside the veins, and instead of “one-way” return to the heart, blood may flow the opposite direction when the gravity pulls the blood downward. This is a condition known as venous insufficiency, and it is exacerbated in upright standing position or in sitting position with the hips and knees flexed for a prolonged period of time.
About Venous Insufficiency
Venous insufficiency in standing or prolonged sitting position can lead to increased pressure in the veins, which then cause the formation of visible varicose veins that appear like bulging, twisting lines on the surface of the skin. In some cases, varicose veins may be little more than a cosmetic concern. However, some patients experience uncomfortable symptoms with their varicose veins, including:
- Pain or achiness in the legs, especially at the end of the day
- Swelling of the lower legs and feet
- Itching or burning sensations on the skin around the varicose veins
- Restless leg syndrome
- Fatigued legs, particularly after long periods of sitting or standing
If left unchecked, venous insufficiency can also cause painful skin sores known as venous
ulcers on the lower part of the leg. Venous ulcers can be very difficult to treat and tend
to have a high recurrence rate. Also, inflammation and clotting of varicose veins occur (“thrombophlebitis”), as well as shocking bleeding from a varicose vein on the skin. That is why doctors want to address causes of venous insufficiency as early as possible, to prevent these complications from developing.
Prevention of Venous Insufficiency
Some of the steps you can take to lower your risk for venous insufficiency include:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly to encourage healthy blood flow
- Avoid prolonged periods of sitting or standing
- Elevate your legs in the evening when possible
- Kick the smoking habit
- Wear compression stockings
By understanding the risk factors associated with venous insufficiency, you can take steps to lower the likelihood you will develop this condition. However, it is impossible to completely prevent venous insufficiency from occurring. If the symptoms of the disease begin to appear, it is important to have them evaluated by a vein specialist who can diagnose the condition early enough to recommend effective treatment options. It is a hereditary condition in many families, and sometimes it is unavoidable, especially in women after pregnancy and delivery.
Are you curious about the next stages of venous insufficiency treatment? Our capable team is prepared to field your questions. We encourage you to get in touch with our Springfield, MA office by phone at (413) 732-4242 or use the form below.