Vein Conditions

Venous Reflux Disease

What is Venous Reflux Disease

What is
Venous Reflux Disease

Venous reflux disease, also known as venous insufficiency, is the underlying cause for the development of varicose veins and associated symptoms such as leg pain, swelling, heaviness, fatigue, and aching.  Night-time symptoms include restless legs and leg cramps.  Venous reflux occurs when the one-way valves in the leg veins no longer function properly.

Normally, the leg veins carry de-oxygenated blood back to the lungs to become oxygenated again before it circulates to the heart and rest of the body.  When the one-way valves become weak and leaky, blood backs up in your leg veins.  The backflow of blood is termed, ‘venous reflux.’  The backflow of blood may occur in the deep and/or superficial leg veins.  Most often, venous reflux begins in the superficial leg veins called the great and small saphenous veins.  The backflow problem within these veins eventually causes enlargement of surface veins.  When the surface veins become swollen and twisted, they are referred to as varicose veins.  Symptoms venous reflux can occur with or without visible signs of underlying venous reflux.

varicose veins infographic

Symptoms tend to get worse throughout the day and with prolonged standing. The more you stand, the more gravity causes the blood to pool within the bad veins. For women, symptoms get worse with menstruation and pregnancy because hormones also affect the veins. Your legs may feel better when you elevate the legs, exercise, or use compression stockings, which all lessen the pooling of blood within the veins.  Over time, venous reflux disease

Who is at risk?

What are the signs and symptoms of venous reflux disease?

Symptoms of venous reflux disease include:

• Swelling of the legs or ankles (edema)

Swelling of the legs and ankles

• Leg pain

Leg pain is often associated with vein disease

• Heavy, tired legs

leg heaviness

Link between leg heaviness and your veins

• Aching, throbbing, or a feeling of heaviness in your legs

aching and throbbing in legs is often linked to vein disease

• Itchy legs

Itchy legs can be an early warning of venous reflux

• Spider Veins

especially along the inner knees and inner ankles

Spider Veins around ankles

• Varicose veins

Varicose Veins

• Night Cramps

(usually in the calves)

Leg cramps in calves is often caused by varicose veins

• Restless Leg Symptoms

drawing showing restless leg syndrome

Night cramps and restless legs are common symptoms of varicose veins

•Skin that is darkening

especially around the ankles
venous stasis

venous stasis sign of underlying venous disease

• Itching and Eczema of the skin

around the ankles

itchy skin around ankles

• Leg ulcers around the ankles

Varicose Vein hemorrhage

How Is Venous Reflux Disease Diagnosed?

Since venous reflux disease affects the veins beneath the surface of the skin, ultrasound evaluation is important to see how the leg veins are functioning. Ultrasound can determine if the valves are leaky and if backflow is present and identify which veins are problematic.

What is Duplex Ultrasound?

How is venous reflux disease treated?

Conservative management such as leg elevation, exercise, compression stockings, ice packs, flavonoid supplements and NSAIDS can be helpful in reducing symptoms. When symptoms worsen or if complications develop, such as skin changes, leg ulceration, spontaneous bleeding from varicose veins and blood clots, then treatment of the underlying venous reflux condition may be recommended. We offer a variety of endovenous (non-surgical) treatment options that can be tailored to the individual.



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