Chronic Venous Insufficiency


Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when your leg veins don’t allow blood to flow back up to your heart. Normally, the valves in your veins make sure that blood flows toward your heart. But when these valves don’t work well, blood can also flow backward. This can cause blood to collect (pool) in your legs.


Symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency may include:
  • Swelling in your legs or ankles
  • Tight feeling in your calves or itchy, painful legs
  • Pain when walking that stops when you rest
  • Brown-colored skin, often near the ankles
  • Varicose veins
  • Leg ulcers that are sometimes hard to treat
  • Having an uncomfortable feeling in your legs and an urge to move your legs (restless legs syndrome)
  • Painful leg cramps or muscle spasms (charley horse)
The symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency may seem like other health conditions. Talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.


You are more likely to have this condition if you:
  • Are overweight
  • Are pregnant
  • Have a family history of the problem
  • Had damage to your leg due to injury, surgery, or previous blood clots
  • Other causes of chronic venous insufficiency include:
  • High blood pressure in the leg veins over time, due to sitting or standing for long periods
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • A blood clot in a deep vein, often in the calf or thigh (deep vein thrombosis)
  • Swelling and inflammation of a vein close to the skin, often in the legs (phlebitis)

When to see a doctor

Regular exercise, elevating your legs while lying down, avoiding standing or sitting for long periods, wearing compression stockings, and losing weight — can help you in the early stages of CVI. But if the discomfort is still there and it is disrupting your daily life, in order to prevent it from getting worse, see your doctor.

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