You may have heard the term venous insufficiency but do not know exactly what it means. In medical terms, the absence of valves and weakening of the veins of lower extremities is known as venous insufficiency. Without healthy valves, blood cannot move back up into the heart properly. This inability can cause blood to accumulate in the legs, leading to several health problems. If chronic venous insufficiency is left untreated, blood pooling can lead to venous ulcers and post-phlebitis syndrome.
What are the Causes of Venous Insufficiency?
When the forward flow of blood is obstructed for any reason, it causes the pooling of blood in the veins, resulting in venous insufficiency. Some reasons for venous insufficiency include:
- Blood clots: If a blood clot fails to dissolve after an injury, it can obstruct blood vessels.
- Varicose veins: A condition caused when veins become enlarged, dilated, and overfilled.
- Obesity: Obesity can also result in venous insufficiency.
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy might influence venous outflow and result in venous insufficiency.
- Smoking: Tobacco is dangerous for your health and can lead to several health complications.
- Genetics: A family history of venous insufficiency can be one of its causes.
Signs and Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency
The symptoms of venous insufficiency are mild at first but worsen with time if left untreated. If you or your physician suspect this condition, here is what to watch for regularly.
- Edema: When the veins cannot pump blood back into the heart for any reason, this leads to the accumulation of blood in the leg, causing edema.
- Itchiness: Swelling of the leg causes the skin to stretch, causing the skin to dry up excessively, ultimately leading to itching.
- Cramps: Cramps or muscle tightness are expected in a healthy individual, but for patients suffering from venous insufficiency, leg cramps are excruciating.
- Throbbing pain: The edema results in throbbing pain; it may be limited to the ankles and feet or widespread, affecting the leg.
- Varicose veins: Varicose veins are not always dangerous but can indicate a more severe issue like venous insufficiency.
Skin changes can occur in patients suffering from venous insufficiency. Following are some skin changes one might experience:
- Color Changes: Skin color change is a general characteristic of venous insufficiency. This color change is most common around the ankles.
- Ulcers and fissures: Pressure from clothing or bandages can cause breaks in the skin resulting in ulcers.
- Hemosiderin staining: Iron released from broken-down red blood cells under the skin causes staining. As a result, the skin appears blotchy.
How is Venous Insufficiency Treated?
Venous insufficiency requires medical attention and proper care—treatment results in decreased adverse outcomes and complications.
You may be put on medications to help increase blood flow to the veins or undergo compression therapy.
Your doctor will create the best treatment for your individual case, so if you suspect venous insufficiency or any vein ailments, speak to your physician.