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Venous Reflux Disease Diagnosis & Treatment

Venous reflux disease is a medical disorder that affects the circulation of blood in the lower extremities. The disease is also known as venous insufficiency. It affects the valves in the veins that normally force blood back towards the heart. Due to the disorder, blood becomes pooled up in the legs and the veins become distended.

Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency

Venous insufficiency usually manifests as swollen veins on the legs in the thigh area. Some of the common symptoms of venous reflux disease include the following:

•  Swelling in the legs or ankles
•  A feeling of tightness in the calves, itching and painful legs
•  A feeling of pain when walking which stops when the person is at a resting position
•  Discoloration of skin or veins becomes visible as purplish-red under the skin
•  Varicose veins
•  Development of leg ulcers that can form due to bleeding
•  Painful leg cramps or muscle spasms for no particular reason

Quite often, the symptoms of venous reflux appear similar to other health conditions so it is best to talk to a medical professional to get the correct diagnosis

Causes of Venous Insufficiency

Veins are responsible for returning blood from all the body’s organs to the heart. In order to do this, blood must travel upwards, from the legs. The veins have tiny valves inside them pointing up. These valves help push the blood up and keep it from flowing back.

The muscles in the calf and feet need to contract with each step to squeeze and push the blood up.

Venous reflux disease occurs when these valves become damaged, allowing blood to leak backwards. The damage to veins can occur due to a variety of reasons such as blood disorders, injury to the veins or vein disease.

In most cases, venous insufficiency occurs when a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the legs due to a disease called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). The problem is also seen in patients suffering from pelvic tumors and vascular malformation. The inability of the leg veins to hold or push blood up towards the heart leads to sluggish movement of blood as it is pulled down by gravity. This can often cause swollen legs.

Risk Factors

People with higher risk factor are more likely to develop the condition than others who have low risk. Some of the conditions that increase risk for patients include the following.

•  Deep Vein Thrombosis leads a majority of venous insufficiency cases
•  Obesity is another common factor
•  Pregnancy can also cause the condition
•  Long period of inactivity
•  Smoking
•  Old age (over 55)
•  Extended periods of standing
•  Family history of the same problem
•  Formation of blood clots in a deep vein inside the thigh or calf
•  Swelling or inflammation of a vein close to the skin

Diagnosis of Venous Reflux

The medical doctor usually begins with an examination of the legs and thighs to determine if the patient is suffering from venous insufficiency. Varicose veins could be an indication of the problem but they can also be caused by many other problems.

The doctor will make a note of any changes in color or vein structure. They may recommend blood tests and check for prior problems such as blood pressure or diabetes. The doctor will determine how effectively the blood is circulating by checking the pulse at different places on the legs.

Treatment of Venous Reflux Disorder

Venous reflux is not fatal and it can be treated to a large extent, thanks to modern medicine. If a patient is diagnosed with the disorder the doctor will recommend a variety of treatment that can work, based on patient conditions. The factors considered by the doctor include:

•  Patient’s age
•  Their symptoms
•  The patient’s tolerance to different procedures and medications
•  The severity of the patient’s condition
•  The patient’s preference for treatment

Some of the common treatments for Venous Reflux Disease include the following

Prescription Compression Stockings

This is the most commonly used treatment as it is inexpensive and doesn’t require a medical procedure. The pressure from the stockings pushes muscles in and contracts them against the veins, improving the blood flow.

Blood Flow Improvement

The doctor may also recommend improving the blood flow in the legs by keeping them elevated through leg raises and lifts.

Endovenous Laser Therapy

Rapid advancement in medical science also gives the patients the option of endovenous laser therapy (EVLT). This treatment does not require surgery, but it is an FDA-approved treatment that permanently removes venous insufficiency. The method involves use of a fine laser to remove the problematic vein. Local anesthesia is used. The procedure is quite non-invasive and painless.

Injection Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy - This method is useful when the venous reflux has become advanced and cannot be treated with laser therapy. The procedure involves injecting a chemical directly into the vein that causes the vein to become scarred and get removed from the body. The procedure can be used on small-to-medium growth in veins.

Surgery

The last method for very advanced level venous insufficiency is to remove them manually through a surgical procedure.

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Venous Reflux Disease

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