When veins no longer function properly, the condition is known as venous insufficiency. Here, the one-way valves become weak and gravity causes “reflux” or backward flow of the blood. This causes the veins in the lower extremities to become thickened and tough, often visible and painful. These dysfunctional veins are called varicose veins.
Who is at risk for venous insufficiency?
People with the following risk factors may be more likely to develop venous insufficiency.
- Females are more likely than males to have problems with veins.
- Family history of venous disease
- Hernias, flat feet
- Chronic standing for long periods of time
- Sedentary lifestyle or lack of exercise
- History of severe leg injury
Symptoms of venous insufficiency
- Leg or ankle swelling or “edema”
- Discoloration of the skin and sores around the ankles and lower legs
- Varicose veins
- Discomfort in leg muscles, often described as a “heavy feeling” in the legs
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Skin problems and wounds
- Decreased quality of life due to discomfort and swelling
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