Venous disease is extremely common with almost a quarter of the adult population having some degree of venous disease. However, it is extremely under-diagnosed and under-treated. Over the age of 50, 1 in 2 people have a venous condition. These are all signs of Chronic Venous Disease – and they can be treated!
- Painful legs - leg aching or heaviness or throbbing
- Swelling at the ankles - this typically occurs at the end of the day, after prolonged periods of standing. Socks may leave an indentation or you may be able to make an indentation in your skin at the ankle with a finger
- Itchy legs - typically on the lower limbs and around the ankles
- Change of skin colour - the skin around the ankles or lower third of the legs can become darker
- Varicose veins - these are large bulging veins, that if you run your finger over, you will feel it is raised
- Spider veins - small veins that are not raised but are abnormal. They are usually a cosmetic concern
- Ulceration - typically near the ankle on the inside
All the above symptoms are all signs of chronic venous disease and they can be treated. They have been shown to decrease quality of life because they cause constant low-grade symptoms. Treating this condition will improve your quality of life. This condition is not merely a sign of aging. You do not have to live with this condition. You can be treated!
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What puts me at risk of venous disease?
Venous disease runs in families. The incidence increases with increasing age. There is an increased risk with pregnancy and other hormonal changes. Prolonged standing and obesity may also increase the incidence of venous disease.
What is the cause of venous disease?
To understand the cause, one needs to understand the anatomy and function of veins. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the body – in the leg this is to the skin, muscles and nerves. Once the oxygen and nutrients have been delivered, veins take the blood back to the heart. There are deep veins within the leg, a more superficial venous system (The saphenous system) and a very superficial system (subdermal veins). The saphenous system is usually the problem in chronic venous disease.
These veins all take blood back to the heart, but they travel against gravity, so to ensure optimal return, the veins all have one way valves which prevent blood from travelling towards the feet in the veins.
Venous disease starts to occur when there are defects along the vein wall or involving the valves. If the wall becomes weak, it dilates. At these points the one-way valves no longer function properly as they are too small for the dilated vein and cannot maintain one direction of blood flow.
When this starts to occur, blood flows towards the hearts and then comes back towards the feet due to gravity. This is called venous reflux. This reflux of blood causes the veins to be stretched, which can cause pain, throbbing and heaviness – as there are nerves around the veins.
|How ulceration develops||How stais develops|