What is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?
Chronic Venous Insufficiency affects an estimated 40% of Americans. Women are more likely to develop the condition, as well as being over the age of 50.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a progressive condition that occurs when the one-way valves in the leg veins no longer work correctly to return blood from the legs to the heart. In cases involving CVI, the valves are either weakened or no longer in place, allowing blood to flow backward and pool in the veins in the legs, ankles, and feet.
The blood that is left collecting or pooling in the lower extremities creates pressure inside the veins. Without treatment, the build of blood and pressure, causes the breakdown of nearby small capillaries, allowing blood to leak out into adjacent tissues.
The longer this process continues without intervention, symptoms progress and may lead to increased swelling, skin discoloration, blood clots, and leg ulcers.
What Causes CVI?
CVI is most commonly caused by a blood clot, deep in the leg veins, also known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
What Are the Symptoms of CVI?
As noted above, CVI is a progressive condition; therefore, the more severe symptoms increase as the disease progresses into later stages. For this reason, it is essential to see a doctor when you first notice symptoms of CVI. The earlier you seek diagnosis and treatment, the more likely you are to prevent future health complications.
Symptoms of CVI:
- Swelling (edema) in the legs, ankles, and feet
- Tired, tender, and aching legs
- Varicose veins
- Skin discoloration or changes in skin texture
- Restless legs
- Itching, burning or tingling on the skin of the legs and feet
- Leg ulcers or open sores
How Is CVI Diagnosed?
A physical exam and a medical history examination will be performed by a doctor. Your legs will be examined, and an ultrasound will most likely be ordered.
A vascular or duplex ultrasound will examine the blood flow in the veins of your legs and can locate any blockages or abnormalities that may be present.
How Do I Treat CVI?
Several lifestyle changes may be implemented that may help alleviate your symptoms and slow the progression.
- Elevate your legs
- Wear compression stockings
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid long periods of sitting or standing
- Maintain a healthy weight
Should lifestyle changes not improve your symptoms, there are nonsurgical treatments available.
What Additional Symptoms May I Experience?
Many individuals who have developed venous disease experience a significant amount of leg fatigue and heaviness. This symptom of heaviness is typically the first sign that the valves in the varicose veins are weakening or leaking.
At this stage of vein disease, the vein walls have become stretched or dilated, compromising the function of the valve of pushing blood up and back towards the heart. The valves are weakened and begin to leak, often referred to as “venous reflux”
While some individuals will feel more of a sensation of heaviness, some people report feeling extremely fatigued and tired after being on their feet for a prolonged period. This is most likely because oxygen is not circulating properly in the lower limbs and contributing to a decrease in overall circulation efficiency.
CVI can also cause restless leg syndrome. This syndrome involves the overwhelming urge or need to move your legs, which can severely impair the amount of sleep you get each night.
Symptoms of restless legs syndrome may include a crawling sensation on your legs, a deep ache in the legs, or spontaneous jerky movements.
Getting up and moving or stretching may help alleviate the discomforts, but many individuals experience more significant fatigue during the day as a result.
Contact A Vascular Specialist
Whether your symptoms involve swelling, aching, tired or restless legs, and they are accompanied by varicose veins and a feeling of overall fatigue, it is essential that you contact a specialist at your earliest convenience.
Your fatigue may very well be rooted in an underlying, undiagnosed venous insufficiency condition that is compromising your well being and health.