What is CVI?
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a disease that manifests in different ways due to incompetant valves of the leg veins. Mainly due to incompetent or leaky valves of the main leg vein, the blood returned from the leg to the heart is made difficult which results in “pooled blood.” This leads to a variety of symptoms including varicose veins, leg swelling, and leg pain.
What are the symptoms of CVI?
Varicose Veins are one of the most obvious visual signs of CVI. They consist of pooled blood in enlarged and dilated veins which, at times, have a rope-like appearance. While any superficial veins may become varicose veins, those of the legs are the most affected.
Spider Veins are considered a milder version of varicose veins. They appear as thin web-like collection of superficial veins and may seem innocuous, but spider veins may be concealing more serious venous disease of the legs.
Other symptoms associated with CVI include discoloration and edema of the leg. The discoloration of the legs is frequently due to chronically pooled blood in the lower legs. Skin around such discoloration may seem thickened, coarse, irritated, and red. These findings are sometimes referred to collectively as “stasis dermatitis.” As the skin disease of the lower leg progresses, the patient is at a higher risk for developing ulcerations, infection, and even bleeding.
Restless Leg Syndrome is a condition that causes an uncontrollable and typically uncomfortable urge to move your legs.
Discomfort including pain, heaviness, fatique, aches, and swelling in the legs are all common symptoms of CVI.
What causes CVI?
The leg vein valves are the main problem. The veins serve as highways for blood return from the legs to the heart. This is aided by muscle contractions of the feet and the calf 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 large bulging veins.
Valves incur damage as a result of:
- Advanced Age
- Prolonged Sitting or Standing
- Family History
- Multiple Pregnancies
- Deep Vein Thromosis