Chronic Venous Insufficiency(CVI): When your leg veins cannot pump enough blood back to your heart, you have chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). It is also sometimes called chronic venous disease, or CVD.
Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when the leg veins do not allow blood to travel back to the heart. (Arteries carry blood away from the heart, while veins carry blood to the heart). Problems with valves in the veins can cause the blood to flow both directions, not just toward the heart. These valves that are not working properly can cause blood in the legs to pool. If chronic venous insufficiency is left untreated, pain, swelling, and leg ulcers may result.
The diagnosis is primarily based on the appearance of the skin. Your doctor may order tests to examine the blood flow in your legs.
Chronic venous insufficiency does not pose a serious health threat, but the condition can be disabling and cause pain.
- If you have CVI, your ankles may swell and your calves may feel tight. Your legs may also feel heavy, tired, restless, or achy. You may feel pain while walking or shortly after stopping.
- CVI may be associated with varicose veins. Varicose veins are swollen veins that you can see through the skin. They often look blue, bulging, and twisted. Large varicose veins can lead to skin changes like rashes, redness, and sores.
- CVI can also cause problems with leg swelling because of the pressure of the blood pooling in the veins. Your lymphatic system may also produce fluid, called lymph, to compensate for CVI. Your leg tissues may then absorb some of this fluid, which can increase the tendency for your legs to swell.
- In severe cases, CVI and the leg swelling can cause ulcers to form on the lower parts of the leg.
- Chronic venous
insufficiency can result from obesity, history of varicose veins, deep vein
thrombosis, sedentary lifestyle, long periods of sitting or standing, being
over the age of 50, female, or pregnant.
- Other cause of Chronic Venos Insufficiency includes: High blood pressure in the leg veins over a long time, due to
sitting or standing for prolonged periods, Lack of exercise, Smoking, Phlebitis (swelling and inflammation of a superficial vein,
usually in the legs).
Treatment is aimed at maintaining blood flow and preventing it from pooling. Treatment may involves the following:
- Improving Blood Flow : Your doctor may have you wear special elastic stockings that squeeze the veins in the legs. They will help keep the blood from pooling. You may also be advised to raise your feet and legs above the level of your heart while resting or sleeping. You may need to do this several times a day.
- Movement: Your doctor may encourage you to walk and do specific exercises for your legs and feet. You should also avoid long periods of sitting and standing. If you go on an extended trip, get up and walk, or flex your leg muscles every 30 minutes.
- Skin Care: Mineral bath therapy may help to improve skin redness. You also may be advised to use bandages or apply an antibiotic cream to help prevent skin infection. Wearing compression stockings may also promote healing.
- Sclerotherapy or Ablation : Your doctor may recommend sclerotherapy. This treatment involves injecting a caustic material into the affected veins. Scar tissue fills the veins. The blood is rerouted through functioning veins. Ablation is another procedure used to treat the veins. A tiny electrode is inserted into the affected vein. Electricity scars the vein and blocks it off.
Ways to prevent/ manage chronic venous
prolonged periods of standing or sitting.
in regular exercise.
- Maintain a healthful weight
- If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how to quit
- Avoid wearing restrictive clothing such as girdles or belts
Some skin care treatments can make the problem worse. Talk with your health care provider before using any lotions, creams, or antibiotic ointments.