About 2.5 million people experience chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) in the US. About 20% of these patients develop venous ulcers, too. Despite this condition’s growing prevalence, there’s a lot people don’t know about CVI.

As a result, many people don’t know how to catch the symptoms, which can include pain, leg ulcers, and swelling of the legs and ankles.

Not sure if you have chronic venous insufficiency? Read on to learn more about this condition. Learning to recognize the symptoms can help ensure you seek help right away. 

Continue reading to learn more about CVI today!

What is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

First, let’s answer the question that likely brought you here. What is deep venous disease?

Deep or chronic venous insufficiency develops when the veins in the leg don’t allow blood flow to travel back up to the heart. Usually, the valves in these veins ensure blood flows toward the heart as intended. When the veins don’t work well, however, the blood can flow backward.

Blood could begin to collect or poll in the legs, leading to symptoms like swelling or leg ulcers. 

Veins are responsible for returning blood from the body’s organs to the heart. In order to reach the heart, blood needs to flow upward. Blood travels from the veins into the legs as it completes this path.

The muscles in your feet or calves need to contract as you walk. This allows the muscles to squeeze the veins. Blood is then able to travel upward.

In order to keep blood flowing upward (rather than back down) the veins contact one-way valves. 

If your blood is unable to travel, however, it might go back down into the legs. Blood could start to collect within the legs as a result.

When left untreated for some time, swelling, skin changes, and pain in the legs can occur. You might also develop open sores, otherwise called leg ulcers. 

Causes

In some cases, a blood clot can develop within a deep vein in the leg. This condition is called deep vein thrombosis. This process might damage a valve.

In other cases, however, a lack of exercise can cause deep venous disease, too. 

You can also develop chronic venous insufficiency if you sit or stand for long periods of time without movement. The pressure in your veins will increase, which could weaken your veins. 

Women are more likely to get CVI than men. 

However, other causes of deep venous disease can include:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • A history of blood clots
  • Having a family history of CVI
  • Exceeding the age of 50
  • Pregnancy
  • Getting pregnant more than once

If your family has a history of chronic venous insufficiency, consider consulting a doctor. They can help you manage your condition. 

Your doctor will start by taking your medical history. Then, they’ll use a duplex or vascular ultrasound to check the blood flow in your legs. They’ll place a small device on the skin over the vein to complete this test.

This process allows them to use sound waves to see the blood vessels. Then, your doctor can check how quickly (and in which direction) the blood flows. 

Symptoms

If you’ve developed deep venous disease, you might begin experiencing:

  • Itchiness
  • Pain
  • Swelling or heaviness in the lower leg or ankle
  • Skin that looks like leather
  • Varicose veins

The varicose veins can look like twisted, enlarged veins that appear close to the surface of your skin.

It’s important not to neglect treatment if you begin experiencing these symptoms. Otherwise, the pressure and swelling could burst the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) in your veins.

Your skin might begin to look reddish-brown as a result, namely near the ankles. If you notice swelling in the legs and ankles, let a doctor know right away. Otherwise, leg ulcers could develop.

It’s tough to heal ulcers once they begin to form. There’s also the risk that the ulcers will get infected. You might begin experiencing complications.

If these symptoms sound familiar, talk to a doctor right away. Seeking immediate treatment can help you avoid leg ulcers and other complications. 

Treatment

Consulting your doctor will help you develop a treatment plan based on the deep venous disease symptoms you’re experiencing.

The main goal of treatment is to prevent leg ulcers and minimize the swelling in your legs and ankles. Your doctor might recommend a list of lifestyle changes, too.

For example, you can begin exercising to help pump blood throughout your veins. Even walking can boost blood flow and make your legs stronger.

If you’re unable to exercise, try moving more often. Avoid sitting or standing for long periods at a time.

If you need to sit for an extended period to work, consider stretching or wiggling your toes. Stretch your legs, feet, and ankles to help your blood flow.

If you sit for extended periods at a time, try to take breaks. Otherwise, keep your feet up.

Keeping your feet up can help lower pressure in your leg veins.

Your doctor might recommend you wear compression (or elastic) socks as well. These socks can put pressure on your legs, encouraging blood flow. They’re available in different lengths, styles, and tightness. 

Otherwise, talk to your doctor about the medications or procedures that are available.

For example, medications can help treat your leg ulcers or any infections. Some medications can also help you avoid blood clots. 

Medical procedures can include surgery, sclerotherapy, or endovenous thermal ablation.

With sclerotherapy, your doctor will inject a solution into your vein, forcing blood to flow through your healthier veins. Endovenous thermal ablation uses high-frequency radio waves to close problem veins.

Talk to your doctor to determine which treatment option aligns with the symptoms you’re experiencing. 

Deep Venous Disease: Schedule an Appointment for Treatment Today

Do these symptoms of deep venous disease sound familiar? Don’t wait to seek treatment. Beginning treatment for chronic venous insufficiency can help you avoid complications down the road.

Make sure to schedule an appointment with a specialist today to develop a treatment plan based on your needs. 

Eager to get started? We’re here to help.

Schedule an appointment at one of our clinics today.