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Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency

Do your legs hurt? Are your lower legs and ankles often swollen? Pain and swelling in the legs are signs that you could have a condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). 

Dr. Carol White, board-certified physician and vascular vein specialist with Dr. White's Vein Center and Morgantown SculpSure & Clear Ink, PLLC, in Morgantown, West Virginia, treats many cases of venous insufficiency. It’s important to seek treatment early rather than wait until the pain is disabling. 

What is chronic venous insufficiency?

Your veins have valves that open and close to allow the blood to circulate properly throughout your body. Sometimes the valves sustain damage that weakens them so they don’t open and close correctly. Leg veins have one-way valves pushing blood toward your heart. If those valves don’t work right, the blood pools in your legs and ankles, resulting in chronic venous insufficiency. 

What are the symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency?

If you have any of the following symptoms, it’s time to see a specialist in vascular care. Untreated venous insufficiency can lead to dangerous leg ulcers that are hard to heal. 

Varicose veins

While varicose veins aren’t always a sign of chronic venous insufficiency, if you have other symptoms as well, it’s very likely you do have CVI. Varicose veins occur when blood pools in the superficial veins closest to your skin, so that you can see the blood pooling. CVI can occur when the blood pools in these superficial veins and the veins you can’t see, buried deep within the skin. 

Legs that ache 

An aching pain in your legs could result from a number of issues, but it’s a common symptom of CVI. Does the pain get worse when you’ve been standing or sitting for a long while, but ease up when you rest? That’s a telltale sign of CVI. 

Swelling in your legs or ankles

When your valves leak and your blood flows back into the legs instead of moving upward toward the heart, the extra pressure in the veins causes fluid buildup. You end up with swollen legs and/or ankles that are most likely painful. 

Discolored skin in the lower legs

When blood pools in your legs, the excess pressure causes venous stasis dermatitis, when some of the blood drips out of your veins into the skin. The pigment in the blood discolors your skin, making it look a brown, red, or yellow in color. 

Itchy legs or feet and flaking skin

The extra pressure when blood pools in your legs and ankles causes the tiny blood vessels to leak. Your skin doesn’t get enough oxygen in that area. It can begin to itch and flake. Once you start scratching your legs when they itch, it’s hard to stop. You now have a condition called venous eczema. Your skin is damaged. Without treatment, the skin can break open and develop sores. These leg ulcers are hard to heal. 

Restless legs 

Do you have a frequent urge to move your legs? Does it keep you awake at night? Preliminary studies indicate that restless leg syndrome might be a symptom of venous disease not yet recognized by the medical profession. A recent study concluded that restless leg syndrome occurred frequently in patients with symptoms of venous insufficiency. 

Leg cramps

Do you get “charley horses” at night, when your leg cramps up so much that you have to get out of bed and move around to try and stop the cramp? Venous insufficiency decreases oxygen levels to your muscles; this may cause cramps. 

If you have varicose veins or think you may have venous insufficiency, call our office or request an appointment online today. We also offer telehealth appointments.

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