What are the Causes of Venous Insufficiency?
Varicose veins and spider veins are a common issue, and many people with the condition accept it as a fact of life. They don’t realize that prominent veins in their legs can signal a more serious condition. For some, varicose veins are a sign of a disease called venous insufficiency. Without an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment from a varicose vein specialist, the problem can get worse.
Top Causes of Venous Insufficiency:
- Family History: The number one cause of venous insufficiency is genetics. If both your parents have vein disease, you have a 90% chance of developing this condition yourself.
- Female Gender: Women are almost twice as likely as men to develop vein disease, although it’s common in both genders.
- Obesity: Carrying extra weight significantly increases your risk of vein disease.
- Pregnancy: Higher levels of female hormones that occur during pregnancy increase your risk of vein disease.
- Prolonged sitting or standing: Many jobs, including driving, teaching, desk jobs, cleaning, factory work and sales, all require long periods of sitting or standing, increasing the risk of vein disease.
Read more to learn about why vein disease develops and how to prevent vein disease.
How Does Venous Insufficiency Develop?
Your veins have an important job. They move blood to your heart, where it is pumped to your lungs for an infusion of oxygen. The veins in your legs must work against gravity to get blood where it needs to go. A series of one-way valves are carefully designed help along the way. The valves ensure that blood flows in the right direction by opening to let it pass through, then closing to prevent it from going backwards.
Over time, your valves can weaken. This degeneration is often a side effect of aging. When your valves are not functioning properly, blood can leak through. Eventually, it pools in the lower half of your body, causing a variety of problems. For example, you may begin to experience venous hypertension.
You may already be familiar with the word hypertension, which is the clinical term for high blood pressure. Venous hypertension is high blood pressure in your veins. The blood trapped in the lower half of your body causes pressure to build inside the vessels, which causes damage to other valves and to the walls of your veins. This process is one of the major causes of venous insufficiency.
What are the Signs of Venous Insufficiency?
Varicose veins and spider veins are the most visible signs of venous insufficiency. As diseased valves fail, bulging veins show up prominently under the skin. They look thicker and knottier than healthy veins, and they appear swollen and twisted. Sometimes, there are no other symptoms of venous insufficiency right away, but eventually, many of those with the condition experience discomfort.
Varicose veins can be achy and painful, and the surrounding area can swell. Leg cramps are common, especially at night, and some patients develop leg ulcers. In addition to varicose veins, skin on the legs and ankles can become ashy, itchy, dry, or discolored. The entire area may feel heavy. If venous insufficiency is left undiagnosed and untreated, there can be serious complications. Examples include lipodermatosclerosis (inflammation of the fat underneath your skin), thrombophlebitis (blood clots blocking the vein), venous ulcers, and varicose eczema.
What Risk Factors Contribute to Venous Insufficiency?
Though the underlying causes of venous insufficiency are malfunctioning valves in the blood vessels, there are a variety of factors that can put you at greater risk. Some of these are lifestyle choices that you can control to reduce the likelihood of developing this disease.
Habits that affect your circulation can contribute to venous insufficiency. Examples include smoking, lack of exercise, and spending a lot of time standing. People who are overweight and women who are pregnant or going through menopause are more likely to develop vein disease. In general, women experience this condition more frequently than men.
If you have a family history of varicose veins, you are more likely to have the issue yourself. Some people are born with malfunctioning valves, and others develop vein disease as a result of blood clotting disorders. In addition, you may be at greater risk if your leg has been injured or your have had surgery in the area. Venous insufficiency gets increasingly common as you get older, and many patients start noticing symptoms after the age of 50.
What Should You Do If You Have Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency?
Vein disease often goes undiagnosed. Physicians who specialize in other areas of medicine tend to treat the symptoms – varicose veins and spider veins – without looking for underlying issues. If you notice signs of vein disease, it is critical to see a specialized vein doctor who understands the causes of venous insufficiency and knows the most advanced methods of treating the condition.
Your varicose vein specialist doesn’t have to be a surgeon. Though surgery was once the best treatment for varicose veins, today’s solutions are primarily endovascular. They are minimally invasive, and they can be done in 15 – 30 minutes. There is little or no downtime, and most patients are able to return to their regular activities right away.
Physicians with expertise in vein disease and the causes of venous insufficiency will diagnose your condition by taking a thorough history and asking about your symptoms. They will conduct a physical examination, and they may use various tests to determine how well your veins are working. These tests are non-invasive and shouldn’t give you any discomfort.
Once vein doctors have collected all of the information they need, they will explain the details of your diagnosis and your treatment options. Usually, your practitioner will recommend a specific treatment plan based on your individual needs.
The specialized vein doctors at the Vein Treatment Center have the experience and expertise needed to accurately diagnose and treat your vein disease. They are familiar with the causes of venous insufficiency, and they are well-versed in the most recent advances in this area of medicine. The Vein Treatment Center uses non-invasive methods to eliminate your varicose veins and spider veins, so that you can get back to your life as soon as possible.