Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is the condition in which valves stop working, forcing the blood to go back down into your legs. It may cause the blood to pool or collect in the veins. Here in this blog, we will cover the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for Chronic Venous Insufficiency or CVI.
- Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) stops the blood from flowing in the backward direction that may cause severe pain, skin changes, aching legs, varicose veins, cramps, and swelling in the patient’s legs.
- Factors that might increase CVI’s risk may include obesity, pregnancy, smoking, varicose veins, muscle weakness, leg injury, or trauma.
- Some of the most common chronic venous insufficiency symptoms may involve swelling of the legs and ankles, darker or brownish skin patches, pain, itchiness in the legs, open sores, and dull aching in the legs.
- Imaging tests, including venogram and duplex ultrasound, are used by healthcare providers to diagnose chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
- Endovenous laser ablation, also known as radiofrequency ablation (RFA), is a minimally invasive procedure used to improve the blood flow of your body.
What is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?
Your arteries are responsible for carrying blood from your heart to the other parts of the body. The role of the veins is to bring blood back to the heart. The veins’ valves stop the blood from flowing in the backward direction. If you suffer from chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), the valves stop working effectively, forcing the blood to go back down into your legs. It may cause blood to pool or collect in the veins. This condition causes skin discoloration, aching, severe pain, cramps, and swelling in the patient’s legs. It may also result in the occurrence of open sores, known as ulcers on the legs. According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, approximately 40 percent of US people are affected by this condition.
What Causes Chronic Venous Insufficiency?
Your valve can get damaged due to the presence of blood clots in a deep vein in your leg. Sitting in the same posture for a prolonged time may raise your veins’ pressure, which adversely affects your valves.
Women are more likely to have CVI as compared to men. Other factors that might increase the risk of having this condition may include:
- Age over 50.
- Blood clots.
- Varicose veins.
- Swelling of superficial veins.
- Muscle weakness, leg injury, or trauma.
Other causes of chronic venous insufficiency may include the following:
- High blood pressure in the leg veins over time because of sitting or standing for an extended time.
- Lack of exercise.
- Inflammation and swelling of a vein.
What are the Symptoms of Chronic Venous Insufficiency?
There are several symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency. Some of the most common signs and symptoms are mentioned below:
- Dull aching in the legs.
- Swelling of the legs and ankles.
- Dark brown skin patches.
- Severe pain.
- Cramping or itchiness in the legs.
- Thicker or harder skin on the ankles or legs.
- Open sores.
- Varicose veins.
If you do not get a proper and accurate treatment timely, you may get affected by ulcers and swelling. Ulcers are usually difficult to heal, and also may cause severe problems for the patients.
If you experience any CVI symptoms, you need to talk to a vein vascular specialist immediately for diagnosis.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency Diagnosis
Your vein vascular specialist will do a physical examination test and get a brief overview of your medical history. He will ask you to undergo an imaging test, such as a venogram and duplex ultrasound. He will then analyze the structure of your leg veins and blood flow. He will also evaluate the blood flow’s direction and speed in the blood vessel. After an accurate diagnosis of the condition, your vein doctor will recommend treatment options depending on the condition’s severity.
Treatment Options for Chronic Venous Insufficiency
CVI treatments are more effective in the earliest stages. Vein vascular surgeons suggest a combination of the below-mentioned treatment options for people suffering from CVI. Some of the primary treatment strategies involve:
1. Improving Blood Flow
You can increase your blood flow and reduce inflammation by elevating your legs. It improves the circulation of the blood in the legs. Wearing compression and regular exercise stockings are highly recommended to people suffering from CVI. Additionally, it would help if you keep your legs uncrossed while sitting.
With compression therapy, the healthcare provider recommends certain medicines to increase blood flow through the vessel, which ultimately leads to healing leg ulcers. There are several medications that may help people with CVI. They may include:
- Diuretics: Such medicines are utilized to draw excess fluid from your body through the kidneys. Doctors suggest them in case if other heart failures or kidney disease conditions are also associated with the inflammation.
- Anticoagulants: They are also known as blood thinners. These blood-thinning medicines help in enhancing the blood flow of the body.
- Pentoxifylline (Trental): The doctor suggests this medicine to enhance blood flow in the body.
3. Endovenous Laser Ablation
Endovenous laser ablation, also known as radiofrequency ablation (RFA), is a minimally invasive procedure used to improve the blood flow of your body. Your doctor will put heat into the affected vein through a tube called a catheter. It will close the vein, which eventually leads to fewer blood pools in your leg.
Sclerotherapy is used to destroy the affected veins, so they no longer can carry blood with them. This treatment is used in case if a patient is suffering from any severe vein disorder. In this procedure, a chemical is injected into the damaged veins. Blood will return to the heart through other veins, and the damaged vein will start to heal on its own.
Surgery is performed in severe cases when it is the least available option. The type of surgery that may be used is ligation. During the procedure, the affected vein is tied off by the surgeon; hence blood no longer flows through it. If your vein or its valves get removed or damaged, then it is termed as vein stripping.
If you do not get proper treatment at your earliest, your condition may worsen with time. It is highly advisable to immediately consult your healthcare provider for significant relief and get back to your daily routine activities.
If you have chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), it is time to see a professional specialist. Please don’t stay in pain; liberate yourself from it.