How to Improve Awareness of Venous Disease
I read an enlightening article in our venous journal today discussing how well symptoms of venous disease are recognized by the public, and even primary care doctors. Normal flow in the veins of the leg runs upward against the push of gravity, so the more we stand or sit, the more gravity is exerting a downward force that the veins need to overcome. Small one-way valves in the veins assist the normal flow, but if these valves don't work well, then vein flow is backward down the leg. As this occurs, the elevated pressures allow the varicose veins to enlarge and leg symptoms to develop.
When patients have varicose veins visible on the legs, it is rather obvious that there is some abnormal back pressure causing the veins to bulge. Common symptoms we see in these patients are: heaviness, throbbing, fatigue and pain.
However, there are symptoms less obvious to patients or doctors that also suggest venous disease. People without clearly bulging surface veins, yet who have swelling, nightly leg cramps and restless leg syndrome often have venous reflux (backflow) as the primary cause of these symptoms.
Our first investigative test is a venous duplex scan which looks at the direction of venous blood flow. When we see the common finding of back flow in the saphenous vein, we often advise that patients undergo endovenous ablation using the Venefit catheter (also known as VNUS Closure). This office based procedure, done under local anesthesia, is the most successful method of treating venous insufficiency, and patient satisfaction is extremely high. In fact, many patients comment that the symptoms of venous insufficiency abate within a day of the procedure.
My next blog will go over other findings of this article, and I would encourage patients even without visible varicose veins, but with aching, heaviness, throbbing and discomfort to seek advice from a well experienced vein professional. The American Venous Forum and the American College of Phlebology are professional organizations that can help direct that search.