12 Signs Of Vein Disease That You Need To Know

12 Signs Of Vein Disease That You Need To Know

five stages of vein disease

What is Venous Insufficiency or Vein Disease

Our arteries are responsible for delivering blood from the heart and distributing it throughout our body. 

Our veins, with the help of tiny one-way valves, move our blood back up towards our heart to be oxygenated. 

Not only do these individual valves keep blood flowing in one forward direction, but they also stop blood from flowing backward.

Venous insufficiency develops when the one-way valves are weakened or damaged, making it difficult for blood to travel efficiently back to the heart. As a result, blood flows backward and begins to pool in the veins of the legs and feet. This condition is also known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).

What Is Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)?

Chronic Venous Insufficiency or CVI is a chronic and progressive condition that impacts millions of Americans. 

As noted, CVI develops when blood is not able to efficiently and smoothly move back to the heart. The one-way valves responsible for pushing blood through the veins are weakened or damaged, allowing blood to flow backward and pool in the lower limbs.

Causes of Chronic Venous Insufficiency

There are several causes responsible for the development of chronic venous insufficiency. Below are the most common causes of the condition:

  • Family History
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Varicose Veins
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Cancer
  • Injury or trauma to the leg
  • Sitting or standing for prolonged periods
  • Phlebitis (swelling of a vein)
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

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How Do You Get Diagnosed with CVI?

If you suspect that you have CVI, you must schedule an evaluation with your doctor. 

Your doctor will discuss your medical history, your symptoms, as well as any risk factors.

In addition to performing a visual examination of any troublesome veins, your doctor may order a venous or duplex ultrasound.

A venous ultrasound will evaluate the blood flow and structure of the veins. A duplex ultrasound can also check the speed and direction of blood flow in your blood vessels.

What Are The 12 Signs of Vein Disease?

Below are 11 signs and symptoms of vein disease:

  • Varicose Veins
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles or legs
  • Cramping
  • Aching or throbbing
  • Pain that worsens the longer you are on your feet
  • Tightness around the calves or ankles
  • Itchy legs
  • Weakness or a sensation of heaviness in the legs
  • Skin discoloration or changes in the skin texture
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Leg ulcers that are slow to heal

Are There Treatments Available for Vein Disease?

There are many treatments available for vein disease. Treatment plans will depend on the severity of your symptoms and how far the condition has progressed.

Also, your doctor will take your age and any existing risk factors.

Non-Medical Interventions

Should you not be experiencing pain or discomfort, your doctor may prescribe the use of compression stockings.

Compression stockings are the most commonly prescribed treatment for venous insufficiency. 

Compression stockings apply continuous pressure at the ankle and lower calf, which helps push the blood flow upward and prevents pooling. Compression stockings can also ease swelling.

Additionally, there are several steps you can take to help improve blood flow, such as :

  • Exercise regularly
  • Elevate your legs above your heart
  • Avoid crossing your legs when seated
  • Maintain a healthy diet and weight
  • Stay hydrated

Medical Procedures

There are many safe, non-invasive, and effective medical treatments available to treat symptoms of vein disease. Often, procedures are performed on an out-patient basis and do not require anesthesia.

Below are some of the more common medical therapies available to treat vein disease.

Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is performed by injecting a solution (“sclerosant”) or foam directly into the diseased vein. 

Once the solution is injected, it begins to irritate the vein, causing it to shrink and collapse.

More than one treatment is usually required and is most common for varicose veins and larger spider veins.  

The use of anesthesia is not needed, and most people can return to their normal activities shortly after that.

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) or Laser Energy

RFA is performed by inserting a thin catheter directly into the varicose vein. Once positioned inside the vein, the tip of the catheter heats up using radiofrequency or laser energy.  

When the catheter is removed from the vein, the heat kills the vein by collapsing the vein walls, which causes the vein to seal shut. Blood flow is then redirected to nearby, healthy veins.  

Laser Therapy

A prevalent treatment for small, spider veins, laser therapy, uses intense bursts of light onto the skin overlying the spider vein. The bursts of light work to collapse the spider vein walls.

Laser therapy does not require any needles or incisions. Patients will often feel a prick of discomfort as the laser hits the skin, but the treating specialist will quickly cool the skin off to relieve pain.

Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA)

EVLA is a safe treatment option available for varicose veins and is minimally invasive.

Your doctor will make a tiny incision to allow placement of a small, optic fiber that is inserted directly into the diseased vein. The optical fiber will deliver heat that will cause the vein to collapse. Over time, the unhealthy veins will be absorbed by the body and nearby tissues.

Medication

In some instances, your doctor may provide prescription medication to treat vein disease, such as:

Diuretics: medicine that works to draw extra fluid from your body and excretes them through the kidneys.

Anticoagulants: medicine that helps thin blood.

Trental (pentoxifylline): medicine that works to improve blood flow.

Surgery

In severe or more advanced cases, surgery may be required, such as:

  • Stripping (removing) the damaged vein
  • Surgical repair of valves or veins
  • Laser surgery
  • Endoscopic surgery
  • Vein bypass

How Can I Prevent Vein Disease?

While you may not be able to prevent vein disease, there are several steps you can take to reduce your chance of developing this condition.  

  • Maintain a healthy diet and weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Do not smoke
  • Avoid sitting or standing for extended periods
  • Stay hydrated
  • Wear compression stockings
  • Stretch
  • Elevate your legs above your heart
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