Venous insufficiency is a condition where blood instead of following its normal antegrade path, escapes and flows backwards through a congested leg, down the veins resulting in a blood pool in the leg. The reason for venous insufficiency is the incompetence of the vulva from restricting the blood from flowing back into the heart.
The reason for vulva incompetency could either be a low-pressure superficial venous system or high-pressure venous system or both. Congenital absence of the vulva could also be the reason. Other factors such as blood clots (deep venous thrombosis) and varicose veins, can cause venous insufficiency. And if you have a family history of vein failure, you can take easy measures to reduce the risk of contracting the disease.
Venous insufficiency causes
The most significant symptom of venous insufficiency is either blood clots or varicose veins. The blood flows from the extremities back to the heart in healthy veins. Blood backflow is stopped with valves and the veins of the legs. Past incidents of blood clots and varicose veins are the most significant reason for venous insufficiency.
As the veins pass the blood forward, blood builds up under the coagulation, which can lead to venous insufficiencies, such as a blood clot. The valves are often absent or impaired in varicose veins, and the blood escapes through the defective valves.
Weakness in the leg muscles which squeeze the blood forward can in some cases also lead to insufficiency of the venous system. In women, venous failure is more prevalent than in men. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it is also more common for people over 50 years of age.
There could be other risk factors associated with venous insufficiency:
- Varicose veins
- Blood clots
- Weakness in the muscle, leg injury, or trauma
- Phlebitis-swelling of a superficial vein
- Family history of venous insufficiency
- Sitting or standing for a long period of time without moving
Venous insufficiency symptoms
Venous insufficiency has the following symptoms-
- Skin starts to change colour, especially around the ankles
- Swelling of the legs or ankles (edema)
- Leg cramps
- Itchiness in the leg
- Leg ulcers
- Weakness in legs
- Tightened calves
- Heavy legs, aching, throbbing
- Pain that gets worse when you stand and gets better when you raise your legs
- Thickening of the skin in the legs or ankles
- Varicose veins
Venous insufficiency treatment
A medical examination may be required to diagnose any history of vein failure or reason for venous insufficiency. The doctor can also suggest tests like a venogram or duplex ultrasound test to diagnose venous insufficiency. In a venogram test, the doctor is required to put an intravenous contrast dye into your veins. The contrast dye helps the doctor to get an opaque image of the vessels. The dye helps in getting a clearer picture of the vessels.
Another type of test for diagnosing venous insufficiency is duplex ultrasound. This test is used to determine the speed and direction of the blood in the veins. A laboratory expert will apply some gel on the skin and then pushes a transducer against this area. The transducer uses sound waves that leap to a machine and create blood flow images. Many factors, including the cause of the disorder and your health status and background, affect the treatment.
Your physician will consider other factors as well, like:
- Your age
- How well you can tolerate medications or procedures
- Your specific symptoms
- The severity of your condition
Compression stockings are the most common treatment for venous insufficiency. These unique elastic stockings pressurize the ankle and the legs and help to increase blood flow and decrease swelling of the legs. These compression stockings are customized according to various lengths, strengths and compressions. The doctor will suggest you the best compression stocking that fits your requirements. Moreover, there are different strategies and types involved in the treatment of venous insufficiency.
Improving blood flow
- There are certain steps one can follow to improve blood flow:
- Try to keep your legs crossed while seated.
- Keeping the legs at an elevated angle.
- Exercising regularly.
- Wearing compression stockings to allow it to put pressure on the legs.
Venous inefficiency drugs
A variety of drugs can also benefit people with this disease.
- Diuretics: medicines that remove additional liquid from your body and are released by your kidney
- Anticoagulants: blood-thinning drugs
- pentoxifylline (Trental): a drug that supports to boost the flow of the blood
More extreme cases of venous insufficiency often require surgery.
One of the following forms of procedure may be prescribed to your doctor:
- Venous or valve surgical repair
- The weakened vena should be removed (stretched)
- Minimally invasive endoscopic surgery: In this procedure, the surgeon installs a thin tube with a camera on it for support to see and tie the varicose veins.
- A healthy vein is transplanted into your body from another place. Used usually only on the top thigh and in very serious cases as a last resort.
- Laser surgical procedure: a relatively modern technique of lasers that either fade or close the damaged vein at a small, precise position with strong light streams.
The treatment (you will not have to stay in the hospital overnight) involves the doctor digging some areas on your forearm, then making tiny pinches and extracting smaller varicose veins.
This method of treatment is usually for advanced venous failure. A chemical is inserted into the damaged vein during sclerotherapy so that it can no longer carry blood. By another vein, the blood will come back to the heart and grab the damaged vein will be absorbed into the body. Sclerotherapy is for suppressing small to medium venous tumors. A chemical is inserted into the infected vein to prevent it from carrying blood.
Your physician will use a catheter technique for larger veins in extreme cases. A catheter (a thin tube) would be inserted into the vein, heat the end, and then extract. When the heat is removed, the vein will be closed and stitched.
Precautions for venous insufficiency
You should take action to minimize the risk of contracting the disorder if you have a family history of venous insufficiency:
- Maintain your weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- One should avoid sitting in one position for long and move frequently.
- One should avoid smoke or quit.