Varicose Veins (Venous Insufficiency)
Many women and men suffer from leg pain and varicose veins and don’t realize what is behind the problem or how it can be fixed. In this month’s newsletter we hope to explain what happens when circulation becomes less than optimal and introduce you to a solution that can be found right in our office!
What is venous insufficiency?
Our circulatory system is made up primarily of arteries and veins. Arteries are responsible for bringing oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body while veins return oxygen-poor blood back to the heart. When veins fail to do their job, venous insufficiency (VI) is the result. When we are in the upright position (sitting or standing), the blood in our leg veins must go against gravity to return to our heart. This is done through the help of small valves in our veins that prevent blood from going backdown towards the feet. Leg and calf muscles squeeze the veins to help move blood towards the heart. When we are walking, this process works well because our muscles are more activebut when we sit or stand for long periods of time, the blood in the veins can start to pool and this increases the pressure in the veins and on the valves. Our veins can handle increased pressure for short periods but if we continue to stand or sit for longer periods of time, the vein walls as well as the valves can start to stretch and weaken.
What are the symptoms?
- swollen feet, ankles, and legs-tired, heavy, restless, aching, fatigued legs
- pain with walking or after stopping
- rashes, redness, sores and ulcers
What are some common causes of VI?
- family history of varicose veins
- being overweight-pregnancy
- not exercising enough-smoking
- standing or sitting for long periods of time
- long distance travel
How is venous insufficiency treated?
Although there are surgical options available for severe cases, most times, physicians will recommend or prescribe medical grade compression stockings/hosiery for both prevention of varicose veins and treatment of them.
Medical compression hosiery improvesvenous blood flow by delivering a controlled amount of pressure, which is the greatest at the ankle and gradually decreases toward the top of the garment. The stockings squeeze the veins to stop excess blood pooling and the gradient pressure helps to control swelling and fatigue. Many patients report feeling rested and refreshed after wearing their stockings.
There are many different styles and lengths of compression hosiery for both men and women including causal, dress, sport, thigh-high and full pantyhose. There are also different compression levels depending on your needs and the extent of your venous insufficiency. For mild cases or for people looking to prevent varicose veins there is “mild support” providing 15-20 mmHg of pressure, while from more serious cases “moderate and firm support” is recommended providing 20-30mmHg and 30-40 mmHg of pressure respectively.
To find out more information about the health benefits of compression stockings or the styles we offer here in the office, talk to Drs. Maja and Cameron Edgar who are trained in custom fitting of medical grade compression stockings.
NOTE: Check into your extended health insurance as with a medical doctors prescription these items are often reimbursable through your plan.