With nearly 150,000 patients being diagnosed with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) in the United States each year, this condition affects more people than you may think. Venous insufficiency occurs when the vein valves in your lower extremities become damaged or weakened, causing blood to pool in your legs.
Jonathan Arad, MD, FACS, is a board-certified vein doctor at Alliance Orthopedics. He has helped thousands of patients achieve healthier, happier lives completely free from leg pain. From young adults to retirees – people of all ages, shapes, and sizes are experiencing tremendous leg pain with no sense of relief, all because they haven’t been exposed to the idea that their circulation might be to blame. Alliance Orthopedics is proud to offer a minimally-invasive technique for treating venous insufficiency, known as vein ablation. However, before we get into how the procedure works, let’s first look at what causes this condition and its symptoms.
Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency
Venous insufficiency makes it difficult for blood to flow back to your heart, which may lead to a number of uncomfortable symptoms. If left untreated, venous insufficiency may lead to severe problems such as post-phlebitic syndrome and venous ulcers. Some symptoms associated with venous insufficiency include:
- Leg pain
- Pain in the hip, back, knee, and foot
- Varicose and spider veins
- Lower leg hair loss
- Restless legs
- Swelling, cramps, and pressure in the legs
- Changes in skin tone or texture
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important for you to visit a vein specialist to determine if venous insufficiency is the root cause. A vein specialist will be able to diagnose your condition, recommend the best course of treatment, and determine if you’re a candidate for vein ablation.
What Causes Venous Insufficiency?
Healthy veins allow blood to flow freely from the legs back to the heart. However, when the valves in your veins become damaged or weakened, it may cause blood to flow back towards your feet, thus causing a pooling effect. A blood clot or injury to the leg may increase your risk of developing venous insufficiency. However, these are not the only factors that play a role.
Other risk factors for developing venous insufficiency include:
- Having a family history of venous insufficiency
- Standing or sitting for long periods of time
- Being taller in stature
Women are also more likely to develop venous insufficiency than men. Not only does pregnancy put additional strain on the veins in your legs, but hormonal changes may also play a role. Estrogen and progesterone may cause the muscles responsible for blood flow to relax, which may contribute to developing venous insufficiency.
How Is Venous Insufficiency Diagnosed?
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of venous insufficiency, the first step is to see a vein specialist. At Alliance Orthopedics, Dr. Jonathan Aradwill will look at your medical history and provide you with a thorough evaluation. This will help us rule out any other potential causes of your symptoms.
An ultrasound may be performed to confirm a diagnosis of venous insufficiency. This test typically takes about ten minutes to complete and uses sound waves to create an image of the veins in your legs. This allows us to determine if you have chronic venous insufficiency and create a treatment plan accordingly.
Treating Venous Insufficiency at Alliance Orthopedics
There are several ways to treat venous insufficiency. For mild cases, you may be able to find relief with lifestyle changes such as wearing compression stockings and exercising regularly. Additionally, Alliance Orthopedics also offers Normatec Recovery Therapy. This compression therapy helps improve blood flow, reduce swelling, and speed up muscle recovery.
If these conservative measures don’t provide you with relief, then you may be a candidate for vein ablation. This minimally-invasive procedure uses radiofrequency energy to heat and close off damaged veins. As a result, blood flow is redirected to healthy veins, effectively treating venous insufficiency and its symptoms.
How Radiofrequency Vein Ablation Works
Radiofrequency vein ablation is performed as an outpatient procedure using local or general anesthesia. To start, general anesthesia or a numbing agent is administered, making this a virtually painless procedure. Once you’re comfortable, your surgeon will make a small incision in the skin and insert a thin catheter into the affected vein using ultrasound guidance.
The catheter then delivers heat to the vein wall, which causes it to shrink and seal shut. Once the vein is sealed, blood flow will be redirected to healthier veins. Following the procedure, a compression bandage will be applied to the treatment area. This procedure usually takes about 20 minutes to complete, and most patients are able to return to full activity the next day.
Common Myths About Venous Insufficiency
There are a lot of misconceptions about venous insufficiency. Here at Alliance Orthopedics, we want to help you separate fact from fiction. Our hope is that by doing so, you feel more confident about seeking treatment and taking control of your health. Common myths about venous insufficiency and blood circulation include:
I am too young for blood flow circulation issues.
Issues with blood circulation may happen to anyone at any age. Moreover, chronic venous insufficiency often begins in our 20s and 30s and progresses as we age.
If I don’t see varicose veins, that must mean I don’t have a circulation problem.
Just because you don’t see varicose veins doesn’t mean you don’t have a circulation problem. Damaged veins often require special imaging tests such as ultrasound to be seen.
Vein conditions only affect women.
Vein conditions can affect anyone, regardless of gender.
Vein conditions only present a cosmetic problem.
Vein conditions are much more than a cosmetic problem. If left untreated, they may lead to serious health complications such as leg pain, cramps, and fatigue without any cosmetic concerns.
To find out if I have chronic venous insufficiency, I will need to go to a hospital or radiology center.
While most imaging centers only look for blood clots, Alliance Orthopedics looks for blood clots and evidence of venous insufficiency using ultrasound equipment.
Love Your Legs Again with Vein Ablation Treatment
If you’re suffering from the symptoms of venous insufficiency, don’t wait to seek treatment. Vein ablation is a minimally-invasive procedure that may provide you with relief from your symptoms and help you get better faster. To learn more about treating venous insufficiency, contact Alliance Orthopedics today.