What is CVI?

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a disease that manifests in different ways due to incompetent valves of the leg veins. What typically happens is blood from the leg has difficulty returning to the heart. This causes “pooled blood,” which leads to a variety of symptoms including varicose veins, leg swelling, and leg pain.

What is CVI?

  • Varicose veins
  • Spider veins
  • Discoloration
  • Edema
  • Ulcers
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Discomfort
  • The weakening of vaginal muscles

Varicose veins are one of the most obvious visual signs of CVI. These occur when blood pools causing enlarged and dilated veins, giving the skin a knotted rope-like appearance. While any superficial veins may become varicose veins, the most common affected site is in the legs.

Varicose veins legs

Spider veins are considered a milder version of varicose veins. They appear as a thin web-like collection of superficial veins and may seem innocuous, but spider veins have potential to cause serious venous disease.

Spider veins

Spider veins

Other symptoms associated with CVI include discoloration, edema, and ulcers. The discoloration of the legs is frequently a result of chronically pooled blood in the lower legs. Edma is skin around such discoloration that is thickened, coarse, irritated, and red. These findings are sometimes referred to collectively as “stasis dermatitis.” As a result of this occurrence, the patient is at higher risk for developing ulcerations, infection, and even bleeding.

Discomfort is seen in a variety of ways, typically including the following: pain, heaviness, fatigue, aches, and swelling. Oftentimes, these symptoms occur on the legs or feet, and if a patient is experiencing any of them, it is important to find solutions for relief and increased comfort.

What causes CVI?

The leg vein valves are the main problem.  The veins serve as a highway for blood return from the legs to the heart.  This is aided by muscle contractions of the feet and calves to push the blood upward. In order to provide continued upward flow, the leg veins are designed with one-way valves.  When the valves of the large veins in the legs are leaking, other veins of the legs start to pool blood which results in swelling, pain, and bulging veins.

Valves incur damage as a result of:

  • Advanced age
  • Prolonged sitting or standing
  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Deep vein thrombosis

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