The arteries are responsible for the transfer of blood from the heart to the other parts of your body.
The veins are responsible for the transfer of blood from the other parts of the body, including the legs back to the heart.
The veins have one-way valves that ensure that blood doesn’t flow backward from the heart.
When the valve becomes damaged or malfunctioning, it can’t hold the blood from flowing backward anymore. This causes the blood to flow back to the leg and cause a pool of blood in the veins at the lower leg region.
Venous insufficiency is a condition that causes the valve not to function properly. The veins can get damaged due to different factors such as age, blood clot, smoking, pregnancy, obesity, et al.
Venous insufficiency could lead to pain, swelling, skin discoloration, itching, et al. Severe cases could lead to venous leg ulcer.
Causes of Venous insufficiency
A condition known as deep vein thrombosis which is a blood clot in a deep vein can damage the valve. When the valve is damaged it leads to venous insufficiency and it was treated by Venous Insufficiency Treatment.
Risk factors of developing venous insufficiency
- Lack of exercise
- Standing or sitting at a position for too long
- Aging (over 50)
- Family history or hereditary
- A person with a previous leg injury
- Previous leg surgery
- Female gender
Symptoms of Venous insufficiency
The symptoms or signs of venous insufficiency include:
- Hardened or thickened skin around your lower legs or ankle
- Inflammation or swelling of your lower legs or ankles
- Feeling of heaviness in your lower legs
- Aching and itching
- Feeling of pain
- Weakness of the legs
- Leg cramps
- Skin discoloration at the lower legs or ankles
- Varicose veins
- Feeling of tightness around your calves
- Worse case of leg ulcers
Diagnosis of Venous insufficiency
When diagnosing for venous insufficiency, your doctor will do a physical examination and ask you questions about your medical history.
Your doctor may examine the pulse rate of your legs and also ask you to undergo imaging scans such as x-ray, MRI or CT scan.
Your doctor may conduct special tests and ultrasound such as Venogram or Duplex ultrasound.
A venogram is a test that allows your doctor to see the veins in your body especially the veins in your legs.
During a venogram, a contrast dye is injected into the veins via a catheter. The contrast dye makes the blood vessels to appear opaque on the x-ray image so that the doctor can see them clearly.
Your doctor will be able to view your veins for any abnormalities and know exactly what is wrong.
Duplex ultrasound uses sound waves to detect the speed and direction of the flow of blood in the veins.
During a duplex ultrasound, your doctor will apply some gel on your skin and then presses a transducer against your skin. The transducer uses sound waves that transmit on a computer and produces images of the flow and direction of blood.
Treatment of Venous insufficiency
At the early stage, venous insufficiency treatment can be treated with home remedy or self-care procedures. Self-care procedures can also help prevent venous insufficiency.
Medical care and treatment are recommended for severe cases.
Self-care treatments for early stages include:
Engaging in regular exercises helps to enhance the circulation of blood in the body. Exercises prevent blood clot and improve the functionalities of body organs.
Avoid standing or sitting in a position for too long
Sitting or standing in a position for too long hinders the free flow and circulation of blood in the body. It is recommended to alternate your sitting and standing positions as much as possible. Talk walks and flexes your muscles at intervals.
Practice leg elevation
At any possible time, try to elevate your legs above your heart. If you are lying down on the bed, try to keep your feet at a higher position above your heart level.
Reduce your weight
Obesity leads to several health conditions including venous insufficiency. The weight of your body could cause increased pressure on your legs and veins. It is very important that you lose weight to lower the pressure on your legs.
Wear compression stockings
Compression stockings help to contract the muscles of the leg to enhance the upward flow of blood.
Practice good skin hygiene
Take good care of your skin and eat foods that contain a high level of essential nutrients.
Avoid excess salt intake
Excess salt intake can lead to water retention in the body which causes swelling in the legs. Avoid eating foods that contain a high level of salt.
Severe cases of Venous Insufficiency Treatment.
Medical treatments include:
This is done to fix the valve or the vein. Your doctor will cut open your leg or make small incisions to access the vein or valve.
This is the replacement of a damaged vein with a healthy one. Your doctor will take a healthy vein from other parts of your body and replace the damaged vein in your leg with a healthy vein.
This is injecting a damaged vein with a solution so as to close up the vein. Blood will then flow through healthy veins. The damaged veins will be absorbed into the body over time.
This is a surgical procedure whereby a damaged vein is cut off or tied off so that blood won’t be able to flow through it anymore.
Endovenous thermal ablation
This uses radiofrequency or laser to heat up or burn up a damaged vein.
Antibiotics are used to treat infections from worse cases of venous insufficiency that has led to leg ulcers.
This is similar to heart bypass surgery. In this procedure, your doctor will collect a healthy vein from other parts of your body and reroute blood around the damaged vein. The blood will then flow through the new healthy vein. This procedure is, however, used in upper thigh region and for extreme cases.
Surgical procedures may be required for extreme cases of venous insufficiency. However, fewer than 1 in every 10 people with venous insufficiency may require surgery.