Chronic diseases of the veins are sometimes described as Chronic Venous Disease, or CVD. The phrase is a catch-all term for a diseased vein. CVD includes the following conditions: chronic venous insufficiency, phlebitis, varicose veins and spider veins. The symptoms vary depending on the condition, but they nearly always involve the patient’s legs and can include pain, ulcers, swelling or changes in the skin.
Why Does CVD Almost Always Involve the Legs?
Veins carry blood from the body to the heart to pick up oxygen. They have a series of valves that control blood flow and keep the blood going in the correct direction. Veins carrying blood from the legs to the heart have to transport blood upwards, which forces them to work against gravity. That increases the pressure on the valves and thus increases the chances of them failing. When a valve does fail, the blood goes backwards and collects in the legs. The pooled blood puts more pressure on the veins and can cause symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
What is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?
Chronic venous insufficiency is a condition in which the valves in the leg veins aren’t working, so the blood is flowing in both directions. The blood will also collect in the patient’s legs. Symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency include:
• Varicose veins
• Ulcers that resist treatment
• Darkened skin, especially near the ankles
• Pain when walking
• Edema in the legs and/or ankles
• Itchiness and/or pain
• A tight feeling in the calves
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged and twisted veins. They often look like cords just beneath the patient’s skin and can be blue or purple. Symptoms can include the following:
• Swelling in the legs
• A heavy feeling in the legs
• Legs that become easily tired
• Rash or itching
• In severe cases, the skin can darken
What is Phlebitis?
Phlebitis is inflammation of a vein, and there are several types. Superficial phlebitis involves a diseased vein on the skin’s surface, while deep vein phlebitis involves a larger vein deep in the leg.
In thrombophlebitis, the inflammation is caused by blood clots within the diseased vein. It is the most serious type and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of thrombophlebitis include the following:
• Severe pain and swelling in a leg or arm
• Sudden, unexplained shortness of breath, which could mean that a blood clot has reached a lung
• Lumps in a leg
• High fever accompanying any symptoms in a leg or arm
Superficial phlebitis is the least serious form and can usually be quickly treated. It does need to be watched, for some patients also develop deep vein phlebitis. Symptoms of superficial phlebitis can include:
• A tender, red area along the affected veins
• Itchiness and swelling
• A throbbing or burning sensation
• Low-grade fever
• Symptoms that worsen when the leg is lowered, especially when the patient is getting out of bed
If you believe you are showing symptoms of a diseased vein, make an appointment at The Vein Center in Mount Pleasant. We will be happy to evaluate the condition of your vein and help you determine the next plan of action. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.