chronic venous

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) occurs when the blood in your legs fails to flow back to your heart. This condition develops when either the vein walls or vein valves in the legs veins aren't functioning properly. Not enough blood flow in this part of the body often leads to a pooling effect known as "stasis", which can cause pain, lack of mobility, and related problems.

What Is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

In normal conditions, the valves in your leg veins ensure a healthy amount of blood flow to your heart. CVI develops when these valves fail to function or your vein walls fail to work properly. In this situation, the blood is unable to flow to the heart and often falls backward to pool in the legs.

CVI shares some characteristics with lymphedema, with both conditions possibly involving the swelling of the feet and legs. There are many things known to cause CVI, including lifestyle factors, blood clots, and varicose veins.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency Stages and Types

chronic venous insufficiency specialist

Chronic venous insufficiency is a singular condition that often presents in three separate stages based on the type and severity of symptoms. While some patients will only experience symptoms associated with the first stage, others will experience all three stages over a period of time.

The more serious symptoms associated with this condition take time to develop, with lifestyle alterations and treatment both being useful in stopping or slowing CVI progression.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency Stages

  • Stage 1 involves initial swelling, along with changes to the skin color and appearance.
  • Stage 2 involves additional swelling, along with further pigmentation changes and dermatitis.
  • Stage 3 involves swelling and symptoms from stages 1 and 2, with varicose veins and leg ulcers also developing.

CVI can go on to cause and influence other conditions, including abnormalities in the capillaries. This condition can lead to additional swelling, ulceration, and hyperpigmentation, with patches of skin becoming noticeably darker than usual.

treatment of chronic venous insufficiency

Symptoms of Chronic Venous Insufficiency

CVI is associated with a range of symptoms, depending on the progression of the condition and the overall age and health of the patient.

  • Pain associated with standing
  • Swelling of legs and ankles
  • Leg cramps
  • Varicose veins
  • Skin gets thicker and changes appearance
  • Aching and throbbing sensations
  • Leg ulcers
  • Weakness in the legs and feet
  • Tightness in the lower legs


Causes of Chronic Venous Insufficiency

CVI is associated with a number of risk factors including other health conditions, lifestyle factors, and family history.

  • People who are overweight
  • Pregnant women
  • People who have damaged their leg due to injury or surgery
  • People who have had previous blood clots
  • Long periods of sitting or standing can cause high blood pressure in leg veins
  • A sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Cancer
  • Swelling of a superficial vein (phlebitis)
  • A blood clot in a deep vein (deep vein thrombosis)

Chronic Venous Insufficiency Lifestyle Consequences

There are lifestyle consequences for people with CVI, mostly due to the pain and lack of mobility associated with this condition. While CVI is not a serious health threat itself, it can be disabling and disrupt regular physical activities. While exercise is a great way to manage and treat many CVI cases, the pain of this condition can make it hard for people to stand up for long periods or carry out certain movements.

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