The human body has 60,000 miles of blood vessels that circulate the entirety of your blood three times every minute. When it comes to the veins in your legs, their job is arguably harder, as they have to fight both distance and gravity to circulate blood back up to your heart.
If the veins in your legs falter, it’s likely due to chronic venous insufficiency. To help you recognize this common condition, Dr. Satjit Bhusri and the team here at The Vein Institute of Upper East Cardiology pulled together a few telltale signs of chronic venous insufficiency, which we review here.
A long road ahead
As we mentioned, the veins in your leg are responsible for delivering blood back up to your heart, and this task is no small one, as they have to overcome distance and gravity.
To help keep your blood flowing in the right direction, the veins in your legs feature small valves that shut off as blood passes through, preventing it from spilling backward. Should these valves begin to weaken, they may not close properly, which allows blood to pool in your legs.
There are several factors that can contribute to chronic venous insufficiency, and they include:
- Carrying extra weight
- Being pregnant
- Older age
- Family history of chronic venous insufficiency
- Damage to your legs
- Previous blood clots
There are also lifestyle factors that place you more at risk for developing chronic venous insufficiency, such as smoking, sitting or standing for long periods, and lack of exercise.
Signs of a problem
Chronic venous insufficiency can lead to a wide range of symptoms, depending on the degree of the insufficiency.
Among the many side effects we’ve seen here at our practice, the most common include:
- Swelling in your legs and ankles
- Varicose veins
- Cramping in your lower legs
- Pain, usually in the form of an ache
- Discolorations in your skin near your ankles
- Restless legs syndrome
In severe cases, you may develop ulcers in your lower limbs that don’t heal quickly due to the lack of good circulation.
Treating chronic venous insufficiency
In the early stages of chronic venous insufficiency, there are several steps you can take to improve the circulation in your legs, such as elevating your legs, wearing compression stockings, and exercising. You can also concentrate on strengthening the muscles in your lower legs, which will help take the pressure off the valves in your veins.
If your chronic venous insufficiency has led to varicose veins, these developments are irreversible, but there are steps we can take to eliminate the veins, such as laser or radiofrequency ablation and sclerotherapy.
When we destroy the problematic veins, your blood reroutes itself to healthier vessels. After your varicose vein treatment, we urge you to follow our guidelines at the beginning of this section to prevent chronic venous insufficiency from affecting these veins, as well.
If you’re still not sure whether you might have chronic vein insufficiency, we urge you to come see us so we can perform a painless vein evaluation. To get started, contact our office on the Upper East Side of New York City.