Swelling and Venous Insufficiency

Updated on: August 26, 2019

Venous edema is chronic swelling often located in the legs, ankles or feet, and it can be a sign that you have underlying venous insufficiency (also known as vein disease), lymph node problems or a kidney condition.

Edema associated with venous insufficiency is the most common type, affecting over 90% of swollen leg cases. But it is not the only symptom. You may experience leg pain, skin discoloration, restlessness, itching, burning, heaviness, or venous ulcers.

Swelling may involve one or both legs. If only one, this may indicate a serious blockage known as May-Thurner syndrome (MTS), where the right iliac artery compresses the left iliac vein, restricting blood flow.

How chronic swelling can cause ulcers

Edema associated with venous insufficiency may involve tenderness and ulceration. This is because pressure and swelling can increase until the tiniest blood vessels in the legs, known as capillaries, burst. When this happens, the skin above these vessels takes on a brownish color, making the area very sensitive to the touch.

Left untreated, the broken vessels can cause local tissue inflammation and internal tissue damage that leads to ulceration, and once ulcers form, the wounds can become infected and difficult to heal.

Diagnosing venous insufficiency

Although swelling is a key indicator of venous insufficiency, some vein disease cases are not always visible to the eye. Minimally invasive diagnostic techniques serve as important tools in determining the cause and severity of the root issue.

In addition to a physical examination, advanced ultrasound technology is used to determine which veins are diseased. The vascular specialist uses the ultrasound to map out your veins before and during treatment. They are also able to accurately detect blood clots to prevent serious conditions like deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Treatment for swollen legs

Vascular specialists often use a combination of vein treatments and lifestyle changes to treat people with swollen legs due to venous insufficiency.

Elevation of the legs after standing for long periods can help temporarily reduce some swelling symptoms; however, minimally invasive veins treatments such as endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) or ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy (USGS) can greatly improve swelling and other symptoms.

About USA Vein Clinics

At USA Vein Clinics, we believe vein treatment should be convenient and accessible. If you or a loved one is struggling with chronic swelling of the legs, visit our website or call 888-768-3467 to schedule an appointment.

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