Venous Insufficiency

Venous insufficiency occurs when forward flow through the veins is obstructed, as in the case of a blood clot, or if there is backward leakage of blood flow through damaged valves.

What are the symptoms of venous insufficiency?

In healthy veins, there is continuous flow of blood from the limbs back toward the heart. There are valves within the veins of the legs that prevent the backflow of blood. In many cases of venous insufficiency, patients have both obstruction of forward flow and backward leakage of the veins.

The most common causes of venous insufficiency are previous cases of blood clots and varicose veins. In some cases, weakness of the leg muscles that help squeeze blood forward may also contribute to venous insufficiency.

Symptoms of venous insufficiency include:

  • Edema (swelling)
  • Skin discoloration
  • Prominent varicose veins or ropy veins
  • Skin ulcers
  • Aching, burning, or throbbing sensations in the legs and feet
  • Cramping
  • Leg weakness

Medications and immobility can also affect the muscles and veins of the legs. Patients should also consider signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency before traveling or having surgery.

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