Vein disease can be sneaky. For some patients, the concept of having issues with their leg veins is obvious….huge, bulging, painful varicose veins. For a great many others, things can be a lot more subtle. In many cases, chronic superficial vein disease may be caused by a problem known as venous insufficiency: wrong way flow of blood in leg veins due to valve malfunction.
This causes a buildup of blood that pools in leg veins, causing increased pressure or venous hypertension.
Many of us around my vein clinic in the Chicago area can relate to this concept by thinking of our basements and sump pumps. I grew up on the North Side (Go Cubs) and remember the nearly yearly ritual of basement flooding. This is why I have no legacy of comic books and baseball cards to give my kids. What we didn’t have, but desperately needed, was a sump pump system.
A pump to force flow upwards against gravity, pipes to carry the flow up and away and a one-way check valve to prevent flow from pooling straight back downward with gravity.
G-d, Whom has not seen fit to bestow a world series victory on said Cubs for 108 years…has otherwise in His mercy bestowed on us a physiologic sump pump of sorts. Our calf muscles, as they contract and relax as we walk, serve as a peripheral heart pump. As the muscles contract, a force is generated that propels flow upward against gravity. Flow goes through “pipes”…superficial and deep veins. Such veins have a number of one-way check valves to prevent blood flow from pooling back in the “basement” of our legs.
If the valves fail and allow downward flow…aka venous insufficiency…venous hypertension occurs. Unlike the obvious horror of a basement full of water, chronic superficial venous insufficiency is slowly progressive and insidious. So much so, that after many years patients often forget what their legs are SUPPOSED to feel like and instead get accustomed to a “new normal”:
- Pain in the legs that gets worse while standing and better when the feet are raised
- Leg cramps
- Throbbing and heaviness in the legs
- Fatigue…tired legs, especially at the end of the day
- Chronic leg swelling
- Chronic itchiness
- Restless legs…where the only way to feel comfortable at night is to move your legs around
- Skin discoloration: reddish, brownish….especially in the lower legs
- Skin ulcers that are slow to heal
All of these symptoms need not be present to have superficial venous insufficiency, but any one of them can be a common symptom and speak to undiagnosed chronic superficial vein disease.
While venous insufficiency may not be dangerous when the early symptoms appear, it can be beneficial for you to get it treated sooner rather than later…especially before skin changes occur.
The first step down the road to happier, healthier legs is to see me for a consultation. During this 1-hour appointment, I will spend some time getting a pretty thorough medical history and doing a focused physical exam. If you have symptoms and/or visible veins at the surface that suggest underlying valve disease, I will suggest that we do an ultrasound examination to find if…and especially WHERE…the valve problems have occurred.
The ultrasound is painless, super-informative and typically covered by insurance carriers/Medicare. In addition to performing a history and exam, devoting an hour to each new patient gives me the opportunity to teach about vein disease as well as answer every question that patients may have.
In demonstrating superficial vein segments with malfunctioning valves, the ultrasound also helps us to create a treatment plan that is tailored specifically to your needs. Now is the PERFECT time to check “leg veins” off of your to-do list. State-of-the-art, non-surgical procedures that I provide may help you to enjoy your legs again and get back to doing…and wearing…the things you used to love.
Many treatments may be covered by insurance/Medicare. We can only determine this after a consultation. Coverage may often take weeks to months to obtain, so scheduling a consult ASAP means that we can start treatments sooner.
Contact Rosen Vein Care today at 847-272-8346 to learn about safe, comfortable, effective and affordable treatment options that can provide a solution to your chronic vein disease…potentially offering relief of symptoms and improvement in the appearance of your le