Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a medical condition in which the veins in the legs have trouble getting blood back to the heart. CVI is especially pronounced in the legs because veins in the legs are furthest from the heart and must work against gravity to get blood back to the chest. This condition is usually caused by failure of the valves in these veins. Valves function by preventing the backward flow of blood, and when they do not work, they allow blood to pool in the leg veins, causing bulging veins and a number of different symptoms.
Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency
Initially, venous insufficiency may not have any symptoms at all save the appearance of pronounced or even bulging veins in the legs. However, if the condition worsens, it can cause pain or discomfort, as well as an assortment of other symptoms. Some of these include:
- Leg heaviness and fatigue
- Swelling of the ankles and calves
- Itching of the skin around the veins
- Muscle cramps/Charlie horses
- Restless legs at night
- Skin discoloration or breakdown
Treatments for CVI
Elevating the legs, exercising, and wearing compression stockings may provide some relief from minor cases of venous insufficiency. You can also alleviate the pain somewhat by avoiding sitting or standing in one position for a long time to help prevent blood from pooling in the legs. More serious chronic venous insufficiency may require medical intervention. Vein doctors prescribe several different treatment methods depending on the severity of the condition:
- Conservative treatment
- Medical grade compression stockings
- A minimally-invasive procedure to effectively eliminate diseased veins and improve venous circulation of the legs
Is This a Serious Medical Issue?
About 40% of the US population is affected by venous insufficiency to some degree. When diagnosed and treated early, venous insufficiency rarely results in serious complications. Even long-standing chronic venous insufficiency can be reversed with prompt treatment. If you are worried about varicose veins or other vein issues, talk with your vein doctor or sign up for a free vein screening to find out if you need treatment.