Chronic Venous Insufficiency (Varicose Veins)
Sometimes, varicose veins can progress into a more serious condition.
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a common cause of leg pain and swelling. It occurs when the veins in the legs can no longer pump blood back to the heart effectively. One reason is because the one-way valves intended to keep blood flowing upward have weakened. Unable to fight gravity, the blood flows back down, pooling in the veins of the leg. CVI can also be caused by blood clots in the deep veins of the legs. Over time, CVI may result in varicose veins or more progressive symptoms, including swelling of the legs, itching and the development of ulcers near the ankles.
While not a serious health threat, CVI can be painful and disabling, and significantly impact your quality of life.
If you have risk factors for CVI, you are more likely to develop the disease. These include deep vein thrombosis, a family history of varicose veins, obesity, pregnancy, inactivity, smoking, extended periods of standing or sitting, and being a female over the age of 50. Your doctor may prescribe a range of treatments from lifestyle changes to compression stockings to more advanced therapies that can treat the underlying disease to eliminate varicose veins and halt the progression of CVI.
Symptoms may include:
• Leg heaviness and fatigue
• Swelling in the legs and/or ankles
• Leg pain, aching or cramping
• Varicose veins
• Skin changes or rashes
• Ulcers and/or sores that won’t heal