Leg swelling
What are venous diseases?

In patients with venous disease, the internal walls of the leg veins are deteriorated and the small valves are defective and incompetent. When a valve is incompetent, either in the deep or superficial vein system, blood flows backwards towards the foot. This is called reflux. When valves are incompetent in the superficial veins only, the deep veins have to carry more blood towards the heart. To compensate, the veins expand and the valves may not close properly. When this happens, such as in the case of severe varicose veins, the deep vein system may also become incompetent. When blood is no longer pumped effectively from the lower leg, the peripheral veins will not be emptied even when walking. They remain filled with blood and the pressure in the vein will not decrease. This condition is known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) which may result in edema, skin change and in some cases ulcerations.

Wearing medical compression stockings combined with movement will ease the venous blood return, decrease the hypertension, and slow down the progression of the disease.

Signs and symptoms of venous diseases

Depending on degrees of severity, symptoms of venous disease or Chronic Venous Disorders (CVD) include:

  • Feeling of swelling 
  • Feeling of heaviness in the legs 
  • Pain or cramps in the calves 
  • Skin discolorations
  • White atrophy
  • Dermatoliposclerosis 
  • Dermatitis (skin problems) 
  • Dry or weeping eczema 
  • Venous leg ulcer (open wound)

Acute manifestations of venous disease are serious disorders such as superficial (SVT) or deep venous thrombosis (DVT). These disorders usually occur suddenly without pre-existing conditions, but can also be triggered by chronic venous disease. (see Chronic venous disease, Acute venous disease).

Causes of venous diseases

The causes of venous disease are not clearly identified yet. Considering risk factors we have to differentiate between varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency.

Can we cure venous diseases?

Defective venous valves of varicose veins cannot be replaced or fixed. Superficial venous refluxes can be repaired by surgical removal or sclerotherapy of the varicose vein(s). However, chronic venous disease due to deep venous incompetence - such as in post-thrombotic syndrome - can only be treated by valve repair or neo-valve construction in isolated cases.

Chronic venous disease evolves with time. The therapy consists of methods that help to reduce the "ambulatory venous hypertension". Phlebologists, - physicians specialized in veno-lymphatic diseases -, all agree that compression stockings are THE basic treatment of venous disease. This is the reason why medical compression stockings are recognized as a medicine.

Wearing medical compression stockings combined with movement will ease the venous blood return, decrease the hypertension, and slow down the progression of the disease.

Leg pain causes

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Yes, your risk of developing an ulcer is elevated. The vessels’ functioning is so disturbed that there is stasis. Then edema appears and your skin aspect changes – at first a color change, then it itches and eczema appears. As time passes, your skin hardens. A small wound or an inflammation due to a mosquito bite are enough to cause deterioration to your skin. An ulcer forms. These changes appear gradually and can in most cases be resolved with treatment.

No, as the risk factors like genetic predisposition and higher age cannot be treated. But you can prevent symptoms and also signs of chronic venous insufficiency if you have varicose veins. Keep moving! Use the staircase rather than the elevator. Practice a sport that stimulates your venous system like cycling, swimming, or walking. Raise your legs and move as often as possible. It is also recommended to shower your legs with cold water and to wear compression socks or stockings.