Chronic Venous Insufficiency

This blog discusses what chronic venous insufficiency is and what you can do to help manage it.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is the poor functioning of vein valves either being hereditary or the simple damage or blockage causing there to be a venous reflux, for example after a deep vein thrombosis or blood clot. The valves in the veins allow the blood to travel against gravity, from the legs to the heart. When the valves are not able to close properly the blood flow reverses and accumulates at the bottom increasing the venous pressure and causing the lower leg to swell.

There are also some who are more predisposed to CVI.  These risk factors include:

  • Family history
  • Over 30 years of age
  • Previous blood clots in veins
  • Females
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Prolonged standing
  • Heavy lifting

As the blood pressure builds up in the lower leg, the symptoms and signs that one can experience are:

  • pain
  • itchiness
  • the enlargement of varicose veins
  • inflammation
  • changes in skin (discolouration, eczema, scarring and hard skin)
  • venous ulceration

If you believe you present CVI, it would be the best interest to visit a Vascular Surgeon who will assess your symptoms and ask about your medical history. The vascular surgeon will need to physically assess you via Doppler (which is a hand-held instrument used to listen to your blood flow), a venous duplex ultrasound (this provides an actual image of your veins to rule out any blockages or blood clots) and for severe cases, a CAT scan or MRI can be useful to exclude any other causes for leg inflammation.

Apart from treating CVI surgically, it can be helped with the following conservative managements:

  • Diet and lifestyle- maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding prolonged sitting and standing
  • We sitting/lying- elevation of feet and legs, ideally above the heart
  • Structured exercise to strengthen leg muscles.
  • Compression stockings
  • Regular moisturising to reduce itching and prevent cracking minimising the risk of infection (cellulitis)

It is important to prevent any severe swelling and the development of ulcers. It is also very relevant to know that, even after a successful treatment, recurrence can occur, and further care may be needed.

If you do suffer with CVI and find it hard to reach your feet, and simply want some advice and help, our podiatrists here at The Footcare Centre can assist, treat and guide you. To book an appointment call 01932 849373 or book online

This blog has been written by Steven Castillo Pinel and is not necessarily the opinion of The Footcare Centre Ltd

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