Venous insufficiency is a condition whereby the walls and valves in the veins do not work properly, so the blood does not flow normally through the circulatory system to the heart. When this happens, blood tends to pool in various areas in the veins – most obviously in the legs – and this can cause swelling and varicose veins.
Whereas arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the tissues and organs throughout the body, veins carry the oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart for reoxygenation. There are valves throughout these blood vessels that keep the blood moving in one direction; however, when a valve is suddenly working improperly, blood doesn’t flow as it should. This creates chronic venous insufficiency.
Damaged Valves Cause Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Valves in the veins can become damaged as a result of the aging process and a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for long periods of time and not moving your legs enough can cause these problems in the valves in the legs, especially if you are diabetic.
Chronic venous insufficiency is most often a result of a dangerous blood clot, which causes a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This will result in swelling of the leg that has the blood clot. If a blood clot dislodges and goes to a lung, it can cause a fatal pulmonary embolism – so treatment of this condition by a physician is imperative.
What Are the Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency?
There are several obvious signs of venous insufficiency, including the following:
- Swelling in the lower legs and ankles, especially after extended periods of standing
- New varicose veins
- Flaking or itching on the skin of the legs
- Leathery-looking skin
- Skin ulcers
- Aching of the legs
If chronic vein insufficiency is not treated promptly by a medical professional, the pressure in the smallest veins can cause them to burst – resulting in the overlying skin developing a reddish-brown color and heightened sensitivity. If the resulting infection is not handled by a medical professional, it can cause ulcers and open sores in the skin, and this is called cellulitis.
Cellulitis is a severe bacterial infection that can be fatal if not treated. Symptoms are swollen and red skin, and the infection feels warm to the touch. It can occur anywhere on the skin of the body, but it most frequently appears in the lower legs.
Family Doctors in South Carolina
If you have chronic leg pain, or if you have varicose veins that seem to be getting worse, start with getting a set of compression stockings. These will help to ease the symptoms of swelling and discomfort in your legs. Always keep your legs clean and dry, and change your stockings if they are causing your legs to sweat.
But do not try to diagnose and treat yourself without professional medical guidance. Contact the skilled physicians at SC Internal Medicine Associates and Rehabilitation. We have decades of combined experience treating conditions just like yours, and we will quickly diagnose and effectively treat your health issue – so you can get back to enjoying your life.
Call our friendly staff today at (803) 749-1111 or request an appointment online, and let us partner with you for a lifetime of health and wellness.