Chronic Venous Insufficiency
How the Venous System Works: Vein Disorders & Venous Insufficiency
Veins contain the blood in the human body. The venous system’s function is to return blood to the heart once the oxygen and nutrients the blood carries to the body’s organs and tissues have been depleted. Because the venous system is a low-pressure system, and much of the blood returning to the heart has to work against gravity, veins in the limbs contain valves that ensure that blood flows in only one direction in the veins – toward the heart.
Incompetent Valves & Venous Reflux
When the valves in the veins fail to work properly, blood flows back down toward the feet, causing what we call reflux. Reflux most often occurs because of stretching of the vein around the valve – veins stretch much more easily than arteries to allow the body to adapt to changes in the volume of blood. This separates the edges of the valves inside the veins so they no longer close tightly. Without treatment, the malfunctioning valves allow the blood to pool in the lower legs. Pooling of blood in the veins of the legs is what causes visibly bulging varicose veins, as well as a number of symptoms.
Causes of Venous Insufficiency
There are many potential causes of Venous Insufficiency. They include:
- Gender (women have an increased risk of Venous Insufficiency than men)
- Family history
- Prolonged sitting or standing
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the deep veins of the legs)
- Sedentary lifestyle
Signs & Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency
- Chronic aching, pain, pressure, heaviness or fatigue of the legs, ankles, or feet
- Foot or leg swelling
- Leg cramps
- Restlessness of the legs, especially when at rest
- Visible varicose veins
- Ulcers, or open wounds that are slow to heal, on the legs or ankles
- Skin changes on the legs and ankles, such as redness, brown spots, and/or a thickening and hardening of the skin on the legs and ankles
It is important to note that one can have Venous Insufficiency without having visible bulging varicosities. Often the varicosities are under the surface of the skin where they cannot be seen, but will still cause symptoms in the legs and ankles.
If you think you may have Venous Insufficiency, call Vincent Vein Center today: (970) 263-7348