Do You Suffer from Leg Swelling? It Could Be a Sign of Venous Insufficiency

Mild, occasional leg swelling usually isn’t a cause for concern. Changes in hormones and fluid retention during pregnancy commonly cause puffy legs, for example. Regular leg swelling, however, can be a sign of a bigger problem like venous insufficiency that needs careful evaluation.

The esteemed physicians at Advanced Heart and Vascular Associates, with offices in Hudson, Brooksville, and Land O’ Lakes, Florida, provide comprehensive cardiac, vascular, and vein care. AHVA uses the latest advances to help you keep your cardiovascular system as healthy as possible.

If you’re experiencing unexplained leg swelling, our team of specialists can perform a thorough evaluation to get to the root of the problem.

What is venous insufficiency?

Leg swelling is a telltale sign of venous insufficiency, a condition that occurs when the vein valves and walls fail to work effectively. This causes blood to collect in the veins — a condition known as stasis — making it difficult for blood to return to the heart from the legs.

What causes venous insufficiency?

Veins have an important job to do. They return blood to the heart from all of your organs. Veins in the legs must fight gravity to flow upward to reach the heart. Your calf muscles contract, helping with this process so that each time you take a step the muscle contraction in the calf pushes blood up toward the heart.

Your veins have one-way valves that open and shut to keep blood flowing toward the heart and prevent it from flowing backward. If the vein valves in the legs become weak or otherwise damaged, they can fail to shut tightly so that blood flows in only one direction — toward the heart.

As a result, the force of gravity causes blood to collect in the veins in the legs, placing added pressure against the vein walls. Over time the added pressure weakens the vein walls.

Who’s at risk of venous insufficiency?

Aging, lack of exercise, and working a job that requires extended standing or sitting increase the risk of venous insufficiency. Being overweight is also a risk factor. In some cases, the cause is unknown, and in other cases pelvic tumors and vascular deformities play a role.

Venous insufficiency is very common. It’s estimated that 40% of people in the United States have venous insufficiency. The condition is more common in women than men, for reasons unknown, and more prevalent in people over the age of 50.

What are the symptoms of venous insufficiency?

Symptoms of venous insufficiency increase as the condition progresses. That’s why it’s important to visit a specialist if you have symptoms of venous insufficiency, such as leg swelling. Other symptoms include:

Symptoms are often more noticeable in the evening after a day or standing and moving around.

Complications of venous insufficiency

Inflammation, ulcers, slow wound healing, and infection are complications of venous insufficiency when left untreated. Varicose veins are a common result of venous insufficiency. The team at AHVA uses advanced varicose vein treatments, including VenaSeal® and ClosureFast®, to painlessly and permanently eliminate varicose veins. 

If you have varicose veins, schedule a visit with AHVA for a comprehensive evaluation and to discuss the best treatment option. Our team offers a full range of treatments for vascular disease. Call our office today to schedule an appointment or book online. We offer telehealth and in-person visits. 

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