Leg Pain? It may be CVI.

Aches and pains are often a normal aspect of growing older, but persistent pain is not normal, and needs to be addressed.

Leg pain, especially after extended periods of standing or sitting, may be a symptom of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Veins in the legs contain valves that prevent blood from flowing backwards. In CVI, these valves don’t work properly, causing blood to pool in your legs.

Symptoms of CVI

  • Painful leg cramps
  • Itchiness
  • Varicose veins
  • Leg skin that is tough and leathery
  • Brownish skin, usually around the ankles
  • Leg ulcers

Risk Factors for CVI

CVI is relatively common, affecting up to 40% of Americans, and affects women more than men.
CVI risk factors include the following:

  • Family history of CVI
  • Age over 50
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • History of blood clots
  • In women, a history of multiple pregnancies

Diagnosing CVI

A reliable diagnosis of CVI includes testing, usually a Duplex ultrasound, which shows the structure of your veins and a moving image of the way blood moves through them. Other testing may also be required to ensure that there are no other reasons for the pain or swelling.

Treatment for CVI

Untreated, CVI can cause the capillaries in your legs to burst, leading to swelling, and ulcers that are prone to infection.

Treatment may include:

  • Walking improves blood flow. Both standing and sitting, on the other hand, impede blood flow to the legs.
  • Compression hose. These specialty hose, available at pharmacies, prevent blood from pooling in your legs. Compression hose comes in a variety of weights and styles. You may need off-the-shelf or custom-made hose, depending on your condition.
  • Certain medications, such as anticoagulants (commonly known as blood thinners) prevent blood clots. If you have leg ulcers, you will likely need antibiotics.
  • Weight loss. If overweight is contributing to your CVI, losing that weight will greatly alleviate the problem.
  • Medical treatment. In severe cases of CVI, your doctor may suggest medical treatment. Some treatments are minimally invasive. However, 10% of CVI cases are so severe that they require more extensive surgery.

Leg pain is not merely a normal feature of aging. It is a problem that needs to be assessed before it causes serious problems.

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