The condition that affects veins in the leg and ankle areas with venous hypertension is known as Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). Another common name for CVI is “Venous Reflux.” This venous insufficiency can lead to skin swelling, pain, skin discoloration, and skin ulcers along the leg.
Reflux in veins is a result of venous valves struggling to function sufficiently. This leads blood from the valves near the leg to flow in the opposite direction from the heart when an individual is sitting or standing. It is common for venous reflux to occur under conditions such as genetic history, pregnancy, and other influencing factors.
Blood flow near the leg begins to slow when veins cannot properly direct blood effectively through the body and back to the heart. Pressure within the valves increases, and blood begins to pool around the leg area, resulting in swelling of the legs and ankles. The pooling of the blood pulls apart the valves in the next lower vein region, which can cause even more reflux towards the bottom of the leg.
What Causes Vein Disease and Varicose Veins?
Factors that can increase chance of venous reflux include:
- Long history of smoking
- Lack of exercise
- Long sitting and standing periods
- Family history
- Being overweight
- Aging past 50 years
These factors have potential to increase risk of venous reflux. If you begin to notice any conditions that lead to symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency, contact your medical doctor to take action.
Signs and Symptoms
It is important to identify symptoms that may be the result of vein reflux. These symptoms of vein disease usually include:
- Pain that worsens when you stand
- Itching around leg area
- Cramping around legs
- Swelling in legs and ankles
- Aching, and throbbing pain in legs
- Heaviness in legs when standing
- Skin discoloration around the ankles
- Developing skin ulcers at the legs and ankles
- Skin thickening, and tightness around legs
Identifying the symptoms such as skin ulcers with a medical professional can help choose the right treatment plan that is best for your health. Your doctor can help create a personal strategy that fits your needs.
In order to determine whether or not you have vein reflux, your doctor will diagnose you with a physical examination first. Reviewing medical history, symptoms, and any visible varicose veins on the skin surface is common during a vein disease examination. Additionally, your circulatory system may be assessed using an ultrasound to determine the extent blood is refluxing in your veins and vein size.
Why Should Varicose Veins Be Treated?
The progressive increase in pain and quality of life issues are the reasons most seek treatment for their varicose veins. Your doctor will consider health factors such as symptoms, age, condition severity, and medications depending on your health status and history.
Those who don’t take proper action during the early stages of vein reflux may notice conditions become severe as time progresses. For many, varicose veins should be treated to lower risk of Chronic Venous Insufficiency. Treatment will reduce swelling of the veins, and improve blood flow to the heart from the lower extremities..
When deciding if treatment is needed for varicose vein reflux, your doctor may suggest the following procedures:
Compression stockings are often one of the first prescribed solutions to treat the symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency. These stockings are tight around the lower leg and ankle region, but loosen up towards the top of the leg. The pressure towards the bottom helps promote effective blood flow from the legs back to the heart, while reducing the swelling of legs. Compression stockings may offer some relief of symptoms however they have no role in correcting the underlying cause of Varicose veins.Your doctor will suggest which size and strength compression stockings are the best for your needs.
Thermal Ablation Therapy
Endovenous Ablation Therapy does not require surgery, therefore it is a minimally invasive process. It is more commonly used to treat superficial venous insufficiency. Doctors use an ultrasound to guide the insertion of a probe into the varicose vein being treated. From there, the catheter uses energy to heat the vessels of the vein. The heat from the catheter will cause the walls of the vein to close.
Poor blood flow from the treated varicose veins is eliminated, and redirects to healthier veins. Because of the lack of blood flow to the treated vein, the vein is then reabsorbed into the body. Depending on the severity of the vein, you may require more than one treatment for noticeable differences. The procedure only lasts around 30minutes, with virtually no pain due to local anesthesia.
Another treatment for symptoms associated with chronic venous insufficiency is sclerotherapy. This is completed by the injection of chemicals into the vein. The chemical injection causes the vein to scar and close, preventing any blood from being carried within the vein. After the procedure the small veins are subsumed by the body.
Advanced Imaging Technology Used in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Varicose and Spider Veins
Your doctor may also provide the following advanced imaging technology services to further check for any signs of venous insufficiency in the blood valves. The primary technology is Ultrasound.
The vascular ultrasound examination is performed by assessing blood flow within the structure of the leg vein. There are two variations of ultrasound used in the examination. The first is called the B-mode transducer, which obtains the image of a target blood vessel. The second is a Doppler probe, which measures the direction and speed of blood flow within a system of veins.