Venous Insufficiency May Indicate a More Serious Problem
It’s not that uncommon to ignore leg pain and varicose veins, but that decision actually could be a huge mistake that you will greatly regret. Instead, it makes sense to get it checked out by one of the best vascular doctors in Orlando as chronic venous insufficiency, often manifesting as varicose veins and leg pain, may indicate a much more serious problem.
What Is Venous Insufficiency?
Of course, your first question might be, “What is chronic venous insufficiency?” Chronic venous insufficiency is a medical condition in which you have an abnormality in the circulation of the blood in your veins.
Every vein contains a valve that works as a one-way gate, making sure that the blood travels in one direction, back to the heart. Sometimes, these valves deteriorate and malfunction, which allow the blood to succumb to the force of gravity and flow backwards inside the vein. This causes a pooling of blood, which creates superficial (spider) veins and the larger, more serious, bulging varicose veins. Varicose veins often are twisted, discolored, and unappealing to look at. But it would be a mistake to think that varicose veins are a merely cosmetic concern.
Oftentimes, varicose veins are just one sign of chronic venous insufficiency, which can cause even more serious medical issues.
What Can CVI Lead To?
The bad news is that without treatment, chronic venous insufficiency will only get worse over time. Any symptoms you presently have will likely intensify, and there’s a good chance you will begin to experience other symptoms that, too, will worsen ultimately.
Some of the worst symptoms include a skin ulceration. Many patients suffer from a skin breakdown that leads to the formation of non-healing ulcers. These large ulcers can be debilitating and severely affect your quality of life. One study indicated that about one million Americans have skin ulcers because of venous disease; the ulcers cause a full 10% of these sufferers to be disabled.
Another noteworthy risk is for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and the occurrence of pulmonary embolisms, both of which can be fatal. Did you know that if you have varicose veins you are three times more likely to develop DVT?
What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Venous Insufficiency?
Obviously, it’s important to know all the symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency. You may have only one of the following symptoms currently, or you may suffer from all of them:
- Varicose veins
- Leg Itching or tingling
- Leg swelling, heaviness, or cramping
- Leg pain (especially if pain worsens when standing, but lessens when legs are raised)
- Skin color changes or redness on the legs or ankles
- Thickening and hardening of the skin on the legs or ankles
- Ulcers on the legs or ankles (especially if they are taking a while to heal)
Who Is at Risk?
The fact is that chronic venous insufficiency can strike anyone. More than 25 million Americans suffer from some sort of vein-related problem. But certain factors certainly can increase your risk of developing chronic venous insufficiency. These factors include:
- Family history: There is a genetic factor with chronic venous insufficiency. While you may not develop the condition simply because one or both of your parents had it, that fact does raise your risk.
- Age: The older you get, the more likely you are to develop the condition. Veins, like the rest of your body, don’t work as well as they did when you were 25.
- Gender: Women are statistically more likely to develop chronic venous insufficiency. Hormonal differences play a role here.
- Pregnancy: Being pregnant puts additional stress on the vascular system.
- Obesity: Extra weight also puts additional stress on the veins.
- Lack of movement: If you typically sit or stand for long periods, then your risk to develop the condition is greater than if you were more active.
- Athletes: Yes, you read that right. Repetitive-motion sports, like cycling, and high-impact activities, such as weightlifting, put added stress on the veins.
What Treatments Are Available?
Fortunately, there are several innovative treatment options today that weren’t available in the past. These treatments are minimally invasive, can be done under local anesthesia and on an outpatient basis in a doctor’s office, and have a very short recovery period.
One these treatment options is ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy (UGS). This technique uses an ultrasound device to pinpoint the location on the varicose vein where the doctor will inject a chemical foam mixture that will cause it to collapse. UGS usually requires two or three treatments to completely remove varicose veins.
The doctor also uses ultrasound visualization with endovenous laser treatment (EVLT), in which he or she uses a needle to insert a small tube into the varicose vein. The tube is used to carry thermal energy (heat) into the vein in order to cause it to collapse and seal off.
There is no trauma or scarring with either UGS and EVLT, and both procedures typically provide excellent cosmetic results and a quick return to normal daily activities. And in most cases, these treatments are covered by medical insurance.
Where Is the Best Place for Treatment?
It is vital to have your diagnosis and any treatment performed at a dedicated vein center. The vascular surgeons at a dedicated vein center have the knowledge and tools required to best treat your venous disease. You want an experienced professional. While any medical provider can claim to be able to diagnose and treat chronic venous insufficiency, think about whether he or she has the proper training in both phlebology and vascular surgery, and whether he or she treats venous disorders on a daily basis.
For your best care, you’ll want to go to Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center, home to one of the best vascular doctors in Orlando. And if you identified one of more of these venous insufficiency risk factors, call us at 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547 today to talk about your risks and, if necessary, treatment options.