What is Chronic Venous Disease?
Chronic venous disease is a long-term condition involving diseased or damaged veins. This type of leg vein disease is common, especially in older adults. Chronic venous disease can cause discomfort and complications. Fortunately, vein doctors offer vein treatment and promote vein health.
About Veins and Leg Vein Disease
Veins are part of the circulatory system. Veins work with other blood vessels, such as arteries, to circulate blood around the body. Arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to cells in the rest of the body. The cells use the oxygen and other nutrients in blood to function. As they work, cells create carbon monoxide and other toxins. Veins carry this oxygen-poor blood back up to the heart.
Gravity helps arteries move blood down towards the feet. Gravity works against veins trying to carry blood back up towards the heart. Tiny valves inside the veins open and close at just the right time to trap blood in small segments of the vein. These valves prevent the blood from flowing backward or refluxing, down towards the feet.
Chronic venous disease can occur when these valves fail, and the oxygen-poor, toxin-rich blood refluxes into the lower legs and accumulate there. The accumulating blood presses against the inside of the veins, which causes the vein to bloat and twist. When this happens to veins lying near the surface of the skin, a varicose vein can become visible. Bloated and twisted varicose veins can occur deeper in the body too, so a person may not always know that he or she has a chronic venous disease.
Chronic venous disease can cause several conditions affecting the veins. These conditions can include:
- •Varicose veins
- •Spider veins, which are tiny swollen veins that may appear on the face and elsewhere
- •Leg swelling
- •Leg pain
- •Chronic venous insufficiency, a condition where the veins function poorly
- •Changes in the appearance of skin on the leg
- •Leg ulcers, which are painful sores appearing on the ankles and lower legs
- •Phlebitis, which is inflammation of a vein
- •Vascular malformations, or malformed veins
Symptoms of the chronic venous disease can include aching pain, legs that seem to tire out easily, leg heaviness, leg swelling, numbness of the legs, and an itching or irritated rash on the legs. In severe cases, darkening skin in the affected area may occur.
Many of these symptoms are the result of oxygen-poor and toxin-rich blood accumulating in the lower legs. The skin and tissue cells of the lower legs, ankles and feet require a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients to function correctly. Constant exposure to toxins, combined with lack of oxygen and nutrients, causes these cells to break down.
Fortunately, vein doctors can diagnose and treat this leg vein disease. Venous surgeons can also provide patients with tips for preventing chronic venous disease, varicose veins, spider veins, and other leg vein diseases.