Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Venous Insufficiency and Its Consequences


Submitted by Dr. Olson, Simply Vein

Many dismiss the appearance of spider veins as a sign of aging. Maybe your mother had them. Maybe your legs feel heavy and fatigued but show no outward signs of the knotty tangles that protruded from your uncle’s calves. Perhaps your thighs and lower legs throb constantly, disrupting your sleep and your will to take your nightly walk. These are all normal parts of getting older, right?

While some slowing down and aches from a lifetime of use can be expected, many ignore the symptoms of venous insufficiency as just another pain of growing older. Although these maladies are common in the aging population, particularly among women, they can also occur in much younger people. Throbbing legs, visible warped veins, slow-healing leg wounds, and easily tired legs are all warning signs of developing venous insufficiency, a condition where the veins and valves—especially those of the lower limbs—no longer effectively circulate blood. Pooling blood in the veins creates damaging and discomforting pressure, and it can mean that nearby tissues aren’t receiving the blood supply they need to function and heal correctly.

At its mildest, venous insufficiency is a moderate, if distracting discomfort. Left untreated, the advanced symptoms can cause troubling complications:

Spider veins are unsightly branches of veins appearing close to the surface of the skin. Sometimes, they appear like dark-colored lightning strikes just below skin; other manifestations include knotty tangles of taut veins protruding from the surface of the limb. These appearances are unsightly, but they can be the herald of further appearances and more concerning consequences.

Swollen, pressurized tissues are less pliable and more prone to external injury. Even something as simple as a bump against the coffee table can cause a weeping wound to shed worrying amounts of blood.

Arrested circulation can slow the healing of wounds or sores in the affected limb, increasing risk of infection and the need for emergency or long-term wound care.

Advanced venous insufficiency can cause extreme swelling and pressure and may prevent adequate arterial blood to flow to the skin, causing the outermost layers to peel off. Peeling of the dermis drastically increases the risk of serious infection and is difficult to heal due to the accompanying lack of appropriate circulation.

Pain and suffering may be the most dangerous side effects of venous insufficiency. Although not immediately threatening, even early and mild forms of the condition cause those who suffer with it chronic pain. Suffering through pain on a long-term basis saps both the energy and will required to live an active lifestyle, and physical activity is one of the strongest methods of prevention and reversal of intravenous pressure. The longer one lives with venous insufficiency, the more pain they endure, and the less likely one is to lead the active lifestyle that could improve the condition.

Thankfully, there is simple, safe relief from venous insufficiency. Through a variety of in-office, minimally invasive procedures, Dr. Olson and the experts at Simply Vein can help you get back to life as usual.

Next month, Dr. Olson will discuss who is most at risk for venous insufficiency and treatment options. To find out how Simply Vein can ease your venous issues, call Dr. Olson’s practice at 563-344-8333, at SimplyVein.org, and on the Simply Vein Facebook page.