Have you or someone you know experienced leg achiness, swelling, fatigue or even restless legs? These and many other symptoms can be due to something called venous insufficiency.
One of our patients had suffered from intermittent leg swelling and pain. She had an ultrasound of the same leg 6 times looking for a blood clot which was “normal” each time. The problem is that a routine ultrasound for blood clots doesn’t investigate for venous insufficiency. This patient was very active, doing seasonal guided hunting trips with her husband. The intermittent cramps in that leg, which came on while hiking with her clients, were significantly affecting her quality of life. A quick ultrasound looking at the greater saphenous vein revealed the true nature of her problem: she had terrible back flow of blood in the vein.
Venous disease is very common, present in up to 40% of the population, and yet it remains a commonly under-diagnosed and under-treated condition. Venous insufficiency is often present in the setting of varicose veins but can be present without any visible varicosities or spider veins. Insufficiency occurs when one-way valves in the veins of the legs fail and allow back flow of blood. This creates increased pressure lower down in the legs, in turn causing other veins to fail. The disease is slowly progressive and can lead to a multitude of symptoms, with the most common being leg pain or discomfort and swelling. Eventually, if left untreated, the condition can lead to chronic skin discoloration, irritated skin, and non healing ulcers.
Treatment of venous insufficiency and varicosities has never been easier or more convenient. The days of vein stripping, which resulted in pain, bruising, and longer recovery are long gone. Now a typical procedure involves a small laser fiber inserted into the vein to effectively close the diseased vein permanently. After the fiber is inserted into the vein, the procedure takes only a few minutes and is totally painless. Bruising is much less and normal activity can be resumed immediately. For anyone with insufficiency and symptoms, the procedure is covered by insurance. Alternative treatment includes compression stockings and medication, but often this doesn’t result in a satisfactory outcome. There are many vein clinics in the greater Denver area using the newer laser treatment for venous disease and it’s a better time than ever to seek treatment.
Doctor Mapes and doctor Pinsinski have been treating patients at the Conifer Vein Clinic since 2011 and have locations in Westminster and at Conifer Medical Center. Scheduling is available 24 hours a day and consults are always free.