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Venous Insufficiency

September 6th, 2009 by Todd Mann

Veins are the blood vessels in your legs that help bring blood back to the heart. When the leg veins can not longer pump hard enough to bring the blood back to the heart a person can develop chronic venous insufficiency. When you are sitting or standing up, the blood in your leg veins must go against gravity to return to your heart. To accomplish this, your leg muscles squeeze the veins of your legs and feet to help move blood back to your heart while one-way valves in your veins keep blood flowing toward the heart. When your leg muscles relax, these valves inside your veins close which prevents blood from going back down the legs. Over time, the walls of the veins can weaken and the valves can become damaged which cause chronic venous insufficiency.

Symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency include aching or cramping in legs, itching, pain in legs gets worse when standing and better when legs are raised, swelling of legs and feet. Other signs may include redness of legs and ankles, skin changes – usually a darkening or redening – around the ankles, and wounds or ulcers on the lower leg and ankles.

Chronic venous insufficiency generally affects women over 50. Some of the causes of chronic venous insufficiency include high blood pressure, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and phlebitis. There are other factors as well that can contribute to developing chronic venous insufficiency. These factors include a family history of venous insufficiency, obesity, smoking, pregnancy, as well as prolonged standing or inactivity and lack of exercise.

There are many several ways to treat chronic venous insuffiency. Compression stockings or support hose may be recommended for milder cases. Support or compression stockings are elastic hose that squeeze the veins and prevent the blood from flowing backwards. Sometimes sores on the legs can develop from chronic venous insufficiency, called venous or stasis wounds, that can be in part treated with compression stockings. For more serious cases, sclerotherapy or surgical procedures can be used to treat chronic venous insufficiency.

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