Do not ignore that pain in your legs

It could be CVI

If you have ongoing aching pain in your legs, legs that tire easily or leg heaviness that gets worse as the day progresses, you could be suffering from a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency or CVI.

The uphill battle

CVI is a common condition that occurs more frequently in women than in men. To understand the problem, think of the body’s circulatory system as a winding road.

Arteries are one-way roads that carry blood away from the heart in a downhill direction. Veins carry oxygen-rich blood in the opposite direction toward the heart.

To reduce the extra pumping force needed to return blood to the heart on the uphill climb, veins contain valves that propel the blood and prevent it from backwashing.

If the veins fail to channel the blood properly, blood leaks and pools in the ankles and feet. Leg injuries or blood clots can also trigger this condition. It’s also more likely to occur as people age or become overweight.

People with CVI most often experience swelling, chronic pain, varicose veins and a progressive degeneration and thickeningof the skin near the ankle.

Help for aching legs

Your primary care physician may refer you to an interventional radiologist to determine whether you have CVI. He or she will use ultrasound to examine the blood flow in your legs.

If you are diagnosed with the condition, vein ablation may be recommended. During this minimally invasive procedure, the interventional radiologist will guide a thin catheter into the affected vein. A laser or radiofrequency energy is then used to heat the vein and seal it closed. The diseased vein will shrink and improve in appearance. Other healthy veins will re-establish normal blood flow throughout the leg.

Injection sclerotherapy is another option your physician may recommend to treat some varicose and spider veins. A special solution is injected into the vein through a fine needle. The solution shrinks the vein, helping it disappear.

Look for the signs

Symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency include:

  • swelling of the lower extremities
  • a dull achiness, heaviness or cramping in the legs or ankles
  • discoloration of the skin on the ankles
  • varicose veins
  • skin ulcers

Uncover your legs!

The Vein Center at Baptist Beaumont Hospital offers a variety of treatments for chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins. For more information about our Great Strides Program visit or call (409) 212-5825.


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