Knowing how to identify the signs of venous insufficiency is the first step in getting treatment.
Your arteries and veins work together to circulate blood throughout your body. The arteries pump nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood from your heart to your organs and tissues. Once the blood is depleted of oxygen, the veins send it back to the heart, where it gets another dose of oxygen.
The veins in your extremities face the greatest force of gravity when returning blood to the heart. For various reasons, including obesity, age, and heredity, the tiny valves in the veins can weaken and fail to move blood upward to the chest. Sluggish circulation in the veins causes venous insufficiency. Fortunately, the condition is treatable. Learn what signs to look for to catch venous insufficiency in its earliest stages.
Seven signs you may have venous insufficiency
The National Institutes of Health estimates chronic venous insufficiency affects six to seven million adults in the U.S., with approximately 150,000 people newly diagnosed with the disorder yearly. Although venous insufficiency may be asymptomatic, most people experience these common symptoms:
Varicose veins. The most common and visible sign of venous insufficiency is a varicose vein. When the tiny valves inside the leg veins fail to open and shut effectively, blood can pool in the veins. The veins swell with excess blood and bulge from under the skin.
Swelling. Even without a visible varicose vein, your leg and ankle may swell due to fluid buildup around the affected vein. The swelling is most pronounced after sitting or standing for an extended period.
Uncomfortable sensations. Leg pain can occur after an injury. But if you feel pain without injury, you may have venous insufficiency. Other uncomfortable symptoms include throbbing, cramping, and itching.
Heaviness. All that swelling and pooled blood in the veins can make your legs feel heavy and tired, especially by the end of the day.
Changes to skin color and texture. Poor circulation prevents nutrient-rich blood from reaching the skin. As a result, you may notice discoloration and thickened texture on your legs.
Ulcers. A more advanced stage of venous insufficiency may lead to ulcers that usually appear on the ankles. Venous ulcers require extensive treatment to heal.
Blood clots. A serious complication of venous insufficiency is a blood clot in a deep vein, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Blood cells tend to cluster and form a clot when blood doesn’t move smoothly through the veins. DVT symptoms include swelling, warm-feeling skin, and tenderness in the leg. Immediate treatment is necessary to prevent the clot from traveling to the lungs and causing a potentially life-threatening pulmonary embolism.
Treating venous insufficiency
Venous insufficiency isn’t typically considered a serious disorder. But can be painful and debilitating at times. Luckily, the condition is treatable, beginning with conservative methods such as wearing compression stockings and elevating your legs daily. Both methods improve blood flow through the leg veins. Strengthening the calf muscles with exercise also helps pump blood through the veins.
A board-certified vein specialist can perform a minimally invasive surgical procedure if conservative treatments fail to provide relief. These procedures are completed within a brief office visit and destroy the affected vein with either a safe solution or the heat from a laser or radiofrequency waves. The body absorbs the treated vein, and blood diverts to healthy veins. Shortly after treatment, the signs of venous insufficiency will disappear, and your legs will be pain-free and smooth again.
Think you have venous insufficiency? Get checked at Center for Vein Restoration in Massachusetts
Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) operates a full-service vein care center in Framingham, Massachusetts.
Pamela Kim, MD, RPVI, is a board-certified vascular surgeon with additional certification in General Surgery and Vascular Interpretation. She’ll use her diagnostic expertise to diagnose venous insufficiency and develop a tailored treatment plan for you.
Don't live near our Framingham CVR vein clinic location? No problem! With over 100 vein clinic locations in 22 states and the District of Columbia, there's sure to be a CVR vein center near you.
Contact Dr. Kim to learn more about your treatment options, or schedule your consultation appointment online today!
463 Worcester Road
Framingham, MA 01701