Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Institutes & Services > TriHealth Heart Institute

What is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

Chronic venous insufficiency is a medical condition in which veins have problems sending blood from the legs back to the heart.

Usually, the valves in your deeper leg veins keep blood flowing back toward the heart, in order to prevent it from collecting in one place. However, in people with chronic venous insufficiency, the valves in the varicose veins are either damaged or missing, causing veins to stay filled with blood, especially when you are standing.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency: Risk Factors

Risk Factors for chronic venous insufficiency include:

  • Age
  • Being female (related to levels of the hormone progesterone)
  • Being tall
  • Genetic factors
  • History of deep vein thrombosis in the legs
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sitting or standing for a long time

Chronic Venous Insufficiency: Symptoms

If you have chronic venous insufficiency, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Dull aching, heaviness or cramping in legs
  • Itching and tingling
  • Pain that gets worse when standing
  • Pain that gets better when legs are raised
  • Swelling of the legs

Other symptoms may include:

  • Redness of the legs and ankles
  • Skin color changes around the ankles
  • Varicose veins on the surface (superficial)
  • Thickening and hardening of the skin on the legs and ankles
  • Ulcers on the legs and ankles

How is Chronic Venous Insufficiency Treated at TriHealth?

Your doctor will likely recommend taking one of the following steps to manage venous insufficiency:

  • Use compression stockings to decrease swelling.
  • Avoid long periods of sitting or standing. Even moving your legs slightly will help the blood in your veins return to your heart.
  • Care for wounds if you have any open sores or infections.

Surgical intervention may be recommended if you have:

  • Leg pain, which may make your legs feel heavy or tired
  • Skin sores caused by poor blood flow in the veins
  • Thickening and hardening of the skin on the legs and ankles (lipodermatosclerosis)

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