Capitol Vein Blog

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Is Your Leg Swelling Due To Venous Insufficiency?

Leg swelling is a problem that plagues millions of Americans and often causes heaviness, fatigue and general discomfort. The potential causes of leg swelling are numerous, and certainly venous insufficiency is a common one. Even without visible varicose veins, patients can have weak vein valves that cause reflux and swelling. Normally, leg veins propel the venous blood up the leg to the central circulation. If the veins weaken, reflux occurs and blood pools in the lower leg causing swelling. We can easily detect vein flow abnormalities with a simple ultrasound examination, and treatment is very effective.

Of course, swelling can be due to other factors, and your veins may be entirely normal. Other common causes of leg swelling include arthritis, low thyroid function, medication side effects, and lymphedema (one of the primary causes for which there is no permanent cure).

Lymphedema can occur when the tiny lymph channels in the legs become narrowed after significant leg surgery, infection, or trauma. Some patients have a familial incidence of lymphedema so that there is a genetic predisposition to inadequate lymph vessels.

Lymphatic channels carry clear bodily fluids from the lower leg to the upper, against gravity. If these channels become damages, or if you are born with too few, then this protein rich clear fluid settles in the lower legs and leads to classic lymphedema.

Management options for lymphedema include compression stockings, maintenance of a normal weight, continued phyiscal activity, and in more advanced cases, physical therapy for decongestive therapy.

It is important that you be evaluated for vein function when you have a leg swelling condition, as undetected reflux (backflow) in the veins can be a significant contributor to your symptoms. If venous flow problems are detected, treatment, which is office based under local anesthesia, can be very effective.

At Capitol Vein & Laser, both Drs. Rosenberg and McNeill specialize in treating venous diseases and swollen leg conditions. Both doctors have lectured extensively on these issues and continue to be leaders in the delivery of advanced venous care.

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