Suffering from leg pain this summer? You may have venous insufficiency

Photo courtesy of Revere Health, St. George News

FEATURE — Southern Utah’s summer heat can often aggravate current health problems, including venous insufficiency, a condition that can create progressive discomfort in the legs and often goes unnecessarily untreated.

“For most people, venous insufficiency is a gradual problem that starts with simple symptoms like aching or fatigue in the legs, and is often characterized by spider or varicose veins,” Dr. Jamison Jones, cardiologist at Revere Health Heart of Dixie Cardiology Vein and Vascular Center said. “However, these outward signs don’t always develop in people with venous insufficiency.”

If you are elderly, pregnant or obese, have high cholesterol, lack physical activity, experience prolonged standing or sitting, or have excessive exposure to a source of heat or the sun, you are at an increased risk of venous insufficiency.

Jones encourages those at risk of venous insufficiency to be aware of its signs and symptoms.

Initial signs of venous insufficiency

Although spider and varicose veins are clear indicators of venous insufficiency, other symptoms in the legs include:

  • Pain
  • Aching
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Heaviness
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling

Those who have a family history of venous disease should be particularly vigilant if they notice these early signs because they are at a higher risk.

“For a large number of people, living with these discomforting symptoms becomes their new normal,” said Jones. “Many people believe these symptoms are just part of aging, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”

If you experience these symptoms, Jones recommends going beyond correcting just the appearance of venous insufficiency and instead seeking treatment with a holistic approach—treating all aspects of the disease.

“The first step is to schedule a consultation for a diagnostic ultrasound,” Jones said. “From there, your health care team can help you identify the underlying cause of your symptoms and guide you in the right direction of restoring health to your legs.”

Consequences of untreated venous disease

More than 30 million people in the U.S. are affected by venous insufficiency, but only 1.9 million seek treatment annually — that’s just 6.3 percent of people suffering from the condition. This leaves the vast majority undiagnosed and untreated.

“Without appropriate intervention,” Jones said, “individuals suffer from progressive symptoms that can be debilitating and significantly impact their quality of life.”

When left untreated, venous insufficiency can lead to more significant health problems such as chronic pain and swelling, skin discoloration, thickening of the skin, ulceration or slow-to-heal leg wounds.

“The truth of the matter is, there are many treatment options for venous insufficiency,” Jones said, “but not all of them are appropriate. That’s why it’s important to identify the underlying causes of your condition and select the treatment that’s right for you. ”

How to reduce your risk of venous insufficiency and keep your heart healthy

“No matter what an individual does, they may still develop venous insufficiency,” Jones said. “However, many people can reduce their risk of venous insufficiency or slow the progression of the condition with some simple lifestyle modifications.”

For example, avoiding prolonged sitting or standing can help slow the progression of venous disease.

If you already have symptoms consistent with venous insufficiency, Jones recommends conservative treatment options like compression stockings, leg elevation, a low-sodium diet, daily exercise, weight management and analgesics for pain.

“Appropriate diagnoses and treatment early on becomes important in avoiding a gradual decline in your ability to stay active and have a positive quality of life,” Jones said. “Staying active and keeping the legs in motion will always serve you well when it comes to a healthy heart and healthy legs.”

 S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T  •

Resources

  • Revere Health Heart of Dixie Vein and Vascular Center | 1380 E. Medical Center Drive, Suite 4100, St. George | Telephone 435-251-2900 | website

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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