QA on Vein Symptoms
with Dr. Jonie Hines, Board Certified Family Practitioner
“I have a sore on my lower leg that has been there for a couple of months…. is that an ulcer?….could it be my veins?”
The answer is yes… and yes. Chronic venous disease or veins that are not working properly can cause sores on your legs not to heal. “Bad veins” can delay the healing of even small breaks in the skin for weeks, months and even years. If a wound on the lower leg hasn’t healed in over 8 weeks, there may be a more serious reason for it. Chronic venous disease is one of the most common causes of slow healing wounds or ulcers on the lower legs. Other causes of slow-healing sores or wounds include peripheral artery disease, diabetes mellitus, various skin conditions including skin cancer, neurologic conditions including peripheral neuropathy and nutritional deficiencies.
“If my veins are causing the ulcers, will the sores heal without fixing my veins?”
Ulcers may or may not heal without fixing the underlying cause of the ulcer. We now know that fixing veins and wearing compression stockings long term when you are standing, sitting or traveling for a period of time are vital to prevent future ulcers and to help the ulcers heal quicker.
“What are some other symptoms of my veins having problems?”
Veins that are not working properly can result in many symptoms in the lower legs, all of which are worse later in the day. The symptoms including leg aching, throbbing, itching, burning, restlessness, cramps and/or Charlie horses. In addition, folks with venous disease can have leg swelling, darkening of the skin and slow healing sores on their legs called ulcers.
“Shouldn’t I be able to see if I have vein problems?”
Not always. Although many patients with venous disease do have visible varicose veins (large rope-like veins) or spider veins, many patients don’t have any visible signs of vein problems, only symptoms. The only way to tell is to do a detailed ultrasound of a person’s legs called a “Vein Mapping” at a vein clinic.
“What exactly is Chronic Venous Disease?”
Veins are designed to provide a pathway for blood to get back to your heart from other parts of your body. The network of veins keeps the blood going in the correct direction with one-way valves. For a variety of reasons, veins can stretch and the valves can fail. The end result is blood flowing in the wrong direction leading to the above symptoms and signs and is referred to as “Chronic Venous Disease” or “Venous Insufficiency”.
“Can I do something about my Veins?”
Yes! There are many outpatient, minimally invasive procedures available now to treat Chronic Venous Disease. It is extremely rare for patients with venous disease to have to go through a vein stripping surgery. Almost all patients are now treated in a clinic setting and they are walking on a treadmill before they leave the building without the need for pain medications or significant restrictions on their daily activities. Almost all procedures performed on patients because of symptoms are considered medically necessary procedures and are covered by most health insurance plans. In addition, staying active, avoiding sitting or standing for long periods of time, maintaining a healthy weight and wearing graduated compression stockings may help with some of the symptoms of Chronic Venous Disease.
For additional information on Chronic Venous Disease and its treatments, please visit: www.rockymountainveinclinic.com.