Center for Vein Restoration
7474 Greenway Center Drive (Maryland Trade Center 2)
Greenbelt, MD 20770
What Is Causing Your Leg Pain?
What Is Chronic
Arteries bring oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body and veins return oxygen-poor blood back to your heart. When your leg veins cannot pump enough blood back to your heart, you have chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). You have three kinds of veins superficial veins, which lie close to the skin, deep veins, which lie in groups of muscles and perforating veins, which connect the superficial to the deep veins. Deep veins lead to the vena cava, your body's largest vein, which runs directly to your heart.
When you are in the upright position, the blood in your leg veins must go against gravity to return to your heart. To accomplish this, your leg muscles squeeze the deep veins of your legs and feet to help move blood back to your heart. One-way flaps, called valves, in your veins keep blood flowing in the right direction. When your leg muscles relax, the valves inside your veins close. This prevents blood from flowing in reverse, back down the legs. The entire process of sending blood back to the heart is called the venous pump.
When you walk and your leg muscles squeeze, the venous pump works well. But when you sit or stand, especially for a long time, the blood in your leg veins can pool and increase the venous blood pressure. Deep veins and perforating veins are usually able to withstand short periods of increased pressures. However, sitting or standing for a long time can stretch vein walls because they are flexible. Over time, in susceptible individuals, this can weaken the walls of the veins and damage the vein valves, causing CVI.
What Are the Symptoms?
If you have CVI, your ankles may swell and your calves may feel tight. Your legs may also feel heavy, tired, restless or achy. You may feel pain while walking or shortly after stopping.
CVI may be associated with varicose veins. Varicose veins are swollen veins that you can see through the skin. They often look blue, bulging, and twisted. Large varicose veins can lead to skin changes like rashes, redness, and sores.
What Are the Risk Factors For CVI?
Factors that can increase your risk for CVI include a family history of varicose veins, being overweight, being pregnant, not exercising enough, smoking, and standing or sitting for long periods of time. Although CVI can affect anyone, your age and sex can also be factors that may increase your tendency to develop CVI; women older than 50 most often get CVI.
What Tests Will I Need?
First your physician will ask you questions about your current general health, past medical history, and symptoms. In addition, your physician will conduct a physical exam. Together these are known as a patient history and exam. To confirm a diagnosis of CVI, the physician will order a duplex ultrasound test. Duplex ultrasound uses painless sound waves and allows your physician to measure the speed of blood flow and to see the structure of your leg veins.
How Is CVI Treated?
CVI is sometimes not considered a serious health risk but this can be a big mistake. If you ignore the symptoms, it can seriously affect your lifestyle. The treatment of chronic venous insufficiency is not a luxury but a necessity. If left untreated CVI can lead to serious health consequences. Your physician will focus his or her treatment on decreasing your pain and disability.
If you suffer from chronic venous insufficiency talk to your primary care doctor to refer you to a vein specialist for the proper treatment for you and your symptoms.