Venous insufficiency

Venous insufficiency

Venous insufficiency is characterised by a lack of venous tone, which means the veins are incapable of properly carrying the blood back to the heart from the feet. This causes uncomfortable feelings of heaviness in the legs, possibly accompanied by tingling, oedema or swelling and, in more advanced stages, varicose veins and ulcers.

All stages of “venous disease”, from feelings of heavy legs to visible varicose veins and ulcers, can be explained by a defective venous pump system, which is not strong enough to effectively propel blood from the extremities towards the heart. This lack of tone causes pooling (or stasis) of blood in the legs, which can eventually lead to the formation of varicose veins as a result of venous distension (varicose veins swollen to various degrees and ranging in colour from blue to black), accompanied by pain of variable intensity. These feelings of heaviness, often described as “heavy legs”, and swollen or restless legs get worse at the end of the day, or in hot weather… but must always be taken seriously.

According to the CEAP (Clinical, Etiological, Anatomical, Pathophysiological) classification, chronic venous disease can be classed into 6 stages according to its severity.

If not properly managed, the initial feeling of pain and heaviness in the legs (C0), signalling the start of chronic venous disease – or “poor circulation” – can worsen and progress towards more severe forms: development of varicose veins (C2), permanent oedema or swelling of the foot, ankle and leg (C3), more marked skin problems, with brown, pigmented areas, or even eczema or a venous ulcer, i.e. a persistent leg wound of variability severity (C5, C6).

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