What is Venous Insufficiency?

We might take moving around with ease for granted, but the body has a lot of functions going on in the background just to help us get from point A to point B. one of these functions is that of circulation, where the blood circulates to and from the lungs, transporting nutrients, oxygen, carbon dioxide, hormones, and blood cells to and from the cells in the body.  The function of circulation is to provide our body and its cells with nourishment, helping it work properly.  Within the circulatory system, the arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart and lungs to the rest of the body, while veins carry deoxygenated blood away from the body and back to the heart and lungs to get oxygenated.


Venous insufficiency is when the veins fail to circulate the blood within our body properly, essentially having issues sending the blood from the legs back up to the heart and lungs.  Under normal circumstances, the leg veins that are found deep within the legs work against gravity to send blood back to the heart and lungs.  In order to accomplish this, these veins have valves to help the blood flow back up, but prevent blood from flowing in the reverse direction back down into the leg.  If the walls of the veins weaken for some reason, or the valves within the deep veins are faulty or cease to work properly, then venous insufficiency occurs. Blood and fluid pooling in the legs can cause an array of symptoms, including pain and varicose veins.

What are the symptoms of venous insufficiency?

·       Dull aching, heaviness, or cramping in legs

·       Itching and tingling in the toes and legs

·       Pain that worsens with standing

·       Pain that improves when legs are raised

·       Swelling of the legs

·       Redness of the legs and ankles

·       Change in the color of the skin around the ankles

·       Superficial varicose veins

·       Lipodermatosclerosis, or thickening and hardening of the skin on the legs and ankles

·       Ulcers on the legs and ankles

·       Slow healing wound(s) on the legs or ankles


Who is at risk for venous insufficiency?

Venous insufficiency typically happens because the valves within the veins, most commonly in the legs, are faulty or don’t work properly.  This keeps the veins from being able to send the blood back up to the heart, as they would under normal circumstances, and instead it pools and causes the symptoms we mentioned above.  Venous insufficiency also has the potential to occur if there were blood clots in the legs in the past which may have cause a weakening in the vein and valve in the vein, stopping it from working correctly.  Aside from this, people in the below categories are at a higher risk of developing a venous insufficiency:

·       Age  

·       Family history of this condition

·       Gender: Women are at higher risk due to progesterone hormone levels

·       History of deep vein thrombosis in the legs

·       Obesity

·       Pregnancy

·       Sitting or standing for a long periods

·       Tall height