What are Vein Disorders?
Vein disorders, also known as venous insufficiency, is the improper functioning of your veins. When your veins do not properly function it can cause swelling, pain, and changes in the skin. The American College of Phlebology estimates that more than 80 million Americans suffer from some form of venous disorder. Without treatment, vein problems can affect your overall health and well-being for the rest of your life.
Venous disorders typically affect leg veins because it is harder for the veins to drain blood uphill, or against gravity. In addition, the blood needs to travel farther to get back to the heart. However, any vein in the body can become damaged and result in a venous disorder if they do not empty properly.
Types of Vein Disorders
At Vein Specialists of the Carolinas, Dr. Draughn treats the following vein disorders:
What Causes Vein Disorders?
The underlying cause of all vein problems is improper emptying. Simply, your veins are backed up. This problem is known as chronic venous hypertension, CVH. Your veins can become backed up from improper drainage and there are two ways that the drainage gets disrupted including reflux and blockage.
Reflux is the most common drainage problem. Since veins are one-way valves they can carry blood upwards against the force of gravity. However, if something goes wrong the blood can flow backward causing a reverse flow, or reflux. The second flow disruption is a blockage. Veins can be blocked by internal vein blood clots, for example, DVT. Additionally, veins can be blocked by external compression, for example, May Thurner Syndrome.
Factors Associated with Venous Insufficiency
Leg problems are part of everyday life for many people, but few realize that approximately 90% of leg disorders originate within the veins. The following factors can increase the likelihood that you will develop a vein disorder.
- Heredity: if one parent has a vein disorder, you have almost 50% chance of getting it. If both parents have it, you have more than 90% chance to have vein problems
- Gender: vein disorders most commonly affect 50% of women and 30% of men by age 50.
- Pregnancy: women who have been pregnant are more likely to have vein problems than those who have not
- Activity or Occupation: people who spend much of their day standing or sitting for prolonged times are more likely to experience vein problems. Walking and leg elevation helps to empty veins.
- Age: the older you are the more likely you are to develop a vein disorder
- Obesity: weight plays a factor in developing venous disorders
- Injury: damage to the leg can cause damage to the veins and result in blockages
WHEN SHOULD I SEEK Vein TREATMENT?
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms you should schedule a consultation with Dr. Draughn to determine your venous disorder and start treatment immediately.
- Pain in the legs: this can include heaviness, aching, tiredness, tightness, stinging, burning, and throbbing, especially with standing or sitting. Sometimes elevating the legs provides a temporary relief. Itching, nighttime restlessness, and cramping are also common vein symptoms
- Swelling of the legs: leg swelling can be a result of heart, kidney and thyroid issues, and certain medications can cause swelling too. However, if these have been ruled out, then the veins need to be assessed.
- Red or brown skin discoloration of the lower legs: this is typically a sign of a more serious form of vein problems called Chronic Venous Insufficiency
- Wounds are not healing on the lower legs: these can be a result of diabetes, blocked arteries, or Venous Leg Ulcers
- Bleeding from veins
WHY IS EARLY TREATMENT for Venous Insufficiency IMPORTANT?
Venous disorders develop as a result of untreated reflux or blockages. Since veins and tissues cannot tolerate the high pressure from blockages and ineffective emptying the longer they are left untreated the more likely it is that a patient will develop a disorder. When the veins are affected by reflux or blockages they often become spider or varicose veins. When the surrounding tissue is affected by the veins the leg will swell and the skin will become thick, discolored, and no heal any wounds properly. This stage is called chronic venous insufficiency, CVI.
In order to prevent further damage, it is important to schedule a consultation with Dr. Draughn as soon as possible. We can treat most patients with any level of venous insufficiency in our office with excellent outcomes. Health insurance covers most evaluations and treatments for venous disorders.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are suffering from vein disorders and are interested in treatment, contact Vein Specialists of the Carolinas to schedule a consultation. Call our office at 704-544-5245. Our practice serves Charlotte, Gastonia, and surrounding areas in North Carolina.