Category: Vein Disease

Your Cankles Could Be Hiding Types of Lymphedema!

There are several types of lymphedema, and all are serious health problems. But many people don’t know that. Instead, they might think they just have cankles. Now, for those of you who aren’t aware, cankles is a term used to describe wide or swollen ankles–the swelling eliminates a distinction between your calves and ankles (hence the name.) Keep in mind, “cankles” is a slang — it isn’t a term you’ll hear doctors using. But it could be describing several medical conditions, so it’s worth paying attention to your cankles.

Of course, sometimes, cankles could just be a sign that your calf muscles aren’t well-defined. It may even be the result of extra fat tissue in the are. But often, cankles develop because you have fluid build up in your lower leg.

Sometimes, people will also complain about elephant legs. This is another sign of lymphedema, but it just means the swelling extends beyond your ankle. (It’s also a sign that you’ve entered the last, and most dangerous, stage of lymphedema.) While many women, and some men, complain about the way their cankles or legs look, it turns out that they could both be a sign of more serious health issues.

What Causes My Ankles to Swell? Types of Lymphedema

There are two main types of lymphedema: primary and secondary. With primary lymphedema we don’t always know the cause. (But we’ll review some common ones in a moment.) Now, with secondary lymphedema, your swelling usually develops after a surgery or infection, because those triggers damaged your lymphatic pathways’ ability to drain.

When it comes to primary lymphedema, there can be several triggers we’ve identified. Many pregnant women develop swollen ankles. Usually, this cankle cause clears up once you deliver your baby, so you may not need to seek treatment. Individuals with liver or kidney disease may also develop ankle swelling. So, if you have a family history of either disease, mention your swollen ankles right away to your doctor.

Additionally, cankles could be a sign of excess fat in your ankles, and not of swelling. If you are a woman and you’re seeing excess ankle fat, you might have lipedema. This hormonal condition, affecting up to 11% of women, causes extra fat to build up beneath the skin on your legs. It can be painful and serious, and you should review your symptoms with your doctor.

You should discuss the possibility of any of these conditions with your doctor. But, today, we’re going to talk about circulation and cankles. Because swollen, puffy ankles are symptoms of several potentially serious vein conditions. For that reason, you should see your doctor at the first signs of lymphedema. That’s the only way to prevent serious complications.

Venous disease/insufficiency

When your veins struggle to send blood back from your extremities to your heart, it’s known as venous insufficiency. In this condition, the blood that doesn’t flow properly can pool in your leg veins. Varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis (DVT, a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of your legs) are also warning signs of Venous Insufficiency.

Symptoms of VI include:

  • Swelling of the legs or ankles
  • Painful,  heavy legs
  • Thicker skin on the legs and ankles
  • Color changes in the skin around your ankles

Edema

Swelling in the legs (edema) can occur when fluid becomes trapped in the soft tissues of the leg, typically because of malfunctioning valves in your veins. When the valves in your leg veins begin to weaken, or fail, the blood can no longer be pumped out of the legs properly. This causes fluid and blood to become trapped there and, as the fluid begins to build up, the leg may begin to swell. The term for the buildup of fluid which leads to swelling in the body is edema.

Lymphedema vs Lipedema

Lymphedema is a form of chronic edema that occurs when the body’s lymphatic system does not function properly. It is not the same as edema caused by vein disease, although vein disease can eventually progress into a combined venous/lymphatic disorder. As with swelling in the lower legs, lymphedema requires the attention of a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

Other signs of lymphedema include progressive symptoms. In the later stages of disease, you may also not some “pillow” swelling in your foot. If it’s caused by Lymphedema, it won’t go away after sleeping. Another sign is called Stemmer’s symptom. This is when you can’t fold the skin on the back of your second toe. Also, your skin will likely appear pale. And the swelling will reach the middle of your lower leg, but won’t hit your thigh. (This is when we start to hear about model heather has lipedemaelephant legs.) Finally, you may develop fibrosis, when the skin on your leg becomes thicker and hardens.

Now, lipedema is a different condition that also may increase your ankle size, but this is due to fat buildup, not fluid retention. Plus, if lipedema is your concern, you’ll likely have fat deposits in areas other than your ankles. In fact, lipedema usually strikes your calves, thighs and buttocks. And, unlike lymphedema, this condition typically impacts women, not men.

Recognizing Lipedema

With this condition, excess fat builds up on the lower half of your body, but there’s no obvious cause for this build-up. While many women with lipedema are overweight, obesity doesn’t seem to cause this fat build up. Instead, the condition seems linked to hormones, since most women develop symptoms at times of major hormonal shifts. (Think puberty, pregnancy and/or menopause.)

Lipedema Types

This condition comes in several different forms. With Type I lipedema, most of your fat covers your buttocks and pelvis, staying concentrated between your navel and hips. With Type II, those buildups develop between your pelvis and knees.

Do you have fat concentrations that run from your pelvis to your ankles? That’s a sign of Type III, especially if you notice a distinct fat cut-off right at your ankles. Now, with Type IV, the deposits are distributed on your upper body, from your shoulders to your wrists. But with Type V, most of your buildups hang out on your calves.

Now, it’s difficult to treat lipidemia. So many women, including body positivity role model Heather Johnson, choose to embrace their larger lower bodies. Still, lipidema can cause pain, and the build-up of lymphatic fluid. (That condition is called secondary lymphedema.) And if that happens, treatment may be necessary.

How and When to Treat Your Cankles swollen, painful legs and ankles could be lymphedemaolding knee

While some forms of cankles are just the result of fatty buildups in your bodies, when they are a sign of a vein problem, treating the underlying issue may also improve the look of your lower legs. When it comes to purely cosmetic treatments, that is a personal choice, but when treating your cankles could actually save your veins from further damage, it is always a good idea!

Noticed swelling in your ankles? Don’t wait to see if it goes away on it’s own, or your symptoms may progress! Instead, schedule an appointment with your Houston vein specialists right away. We can diagnose the cause of your cankles. And get you on the path to proper healing.

 

Sources: Lymphatic Network

 

Why Do Your Veins Show More as You Age?

Want to hear a scary statistic about aging and your veins? By the time they turn 60, up to 20% of Americans develop peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This condition affects blood flow to your lower limbs. Want some more age-related statistics? Right when they turn 40, about 20% of American men and 40% of American women have some sort of problem with their leg veins. But why do your veins show more as you age?

The older you get, the more likely you are to develop some type of vein or arterial disease. Which means you really need to understand the variety of conditions that can affect your vein, and start exploring your treatment options—before problems start developing!

But it doesn’t mean you’re safe from complications if you’re younger. Because, as we’ll see in this post, trouble can strike at any age. Let’s take a closer look.

Varicose Vein Risk by Age

Most people develop varicose veins later in life. But the underlying conditions that cause these veins to develop? They can start developing much earlier. So if you intervene in time, you may prevent those bulging, twisted veins from ever becoming visible.

Here’s the story. When working properly, your veins’ one-way valves help blood fight gravity to return to your heart. But if they malfunction, pressure increases in your veins, and you may develop varicose veins, along with other symptoms. Now, these changes take time to develop, which is why many people don’t notice varicose veins in their 20s or 30s.

But life changes such as pregnancy, or even staying home too much and gaining weight during the pandemic, could speed up the process of damage and malfunction. So people may start noticing these bulging veins at younger ages. Still, other, more serious forms of vascular disease are mostly tied to aging and your veins.

What causes PAD and vein disease? 

PAD is most often a result of atherosclerosis, a slow process during which a fatty material (plaque) builds up in your arteries, reducing blood flow. Smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol all increase your PAD risk.

Recently, we learned that your height is also a risk factor. In fact, this study shows that people who are tall have a higher risk for varicose veins. (For the purposes of the study, ‘tall’ meant measuring above 5″9. And if that sounds awful, take heart. Researchers learned that being this tall does lower your risk for heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.)

But regardless of height, your age affects your risk for vein health concerns. In fact, passing the 50 year mark, and having a family history of PAD, heart disease or stroke, are two key risk factors for this dangerous condition.

Aging and Your Veins: PAD Symptoms

PAD progresses slowly for some people. And this condition also shares similar symptoms with many other conditions, making it harder to diagnose. Still, there are classic PAD symptoms. These include:

Muscle pain, leg cramps, or heaviness when walking (this typically resolves after a few minutes of rest.)

·        Calf pain

·        Numbness or weakness

·        Pain in your buttocks

·        Cold legs and feet

·        Leg and/or foot ulcers

·        Hair loss or slower hair growth

What is CVI and What are its Symptoms?

Now, let’s take a look at chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). This condition occurs when the valves of your leg veins stop working well, making it harder for blood to flow up to your heart. Instead, that blood can pool up in your legs, leaving you with symptoms like bulging, noticeable varicose veins.

Other symptoms include:

·        Sore, tired, restless and/or heavy legs

·        Pain or fatigue

·        Blood clots, especially Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

·        Leg, foot or ankle swelling (edema)

·        Hard, thickened skin

·        Changes in skin color

 

While PAD and CVI can strike anyone, at any time, the older you are, the higher your risk of developing either condition. So, if you’ve noticed a change in the way your legs feel, and your 40th birthday has passed, it’s a good idea to schedule a diagnostic ultrasound to rule out or diagnose a developing vein or arterial condition.

Sources: Circulation Journal

Can Lymphedema Exercises for Legs Help Me?

Are you wondering if there are lymphedema exercises for legs that will relieve swelling? We don’t blame you! After all, swollen legs aren’t just uncomfortable. They could be a sign of a serious condition called venous insufficiency. (Also called VI, this is a condition in which your veins fail to circulate blood properly, especially to your lower extremities). As a result, you may develop troubling symptoms. One common side effect of VI is edema (swelling) in your the lower legs. And when you experience edema for an extended period of time, you are more susceptible to venous ulcers, open wounds that develop on your legs as a result of increased vein pressure due to your malfunctioning venous valves.

While ulcers can be frightening, there are several ways in which we can treat these sores. First and foremost, it’s important to address the underlying cause of the problem–your venous insufficiency and edema.

To help control edema, we recommend that patients wear compression stockings; the pressure will help encourage pooling blood to flow out of your legs and back up to your heart, reducing the swelling you experience in your legs. Elevating your legs can help as well: if you put your feet up above the level of your heart, it will also encourage pooling blood to leave your legs.

But there’s two more ways we can control edema and VI, reducing your risk of venous ulcers: diet and exercise!

Dietary Changes to Prevent Swollen Legs

If you’ve noticed swelling in your legs, it’s a great time to start changing your diet! First and foremost, cut back on your salt intake. Too much sodium in your diet can lead to water retention, making your edema symptoms worsen. Keep in mind that lots of canned soups, snacks, cheeses and even pickles are high in sodium, so it’s not enough to just bypass the salt shaker.

Next up on the dietary schedule? Drink more water. While it may seem strange, increasing your fluid intake can actually help flush retained fluid from your body. So, if edema is a problem for you, grab an 8-ounce water glass and start sipping!

Not a fan of H20? While water is best, other liquids may help you fight fluid retention. Some people find benefits from sipping dandelion tea. But since this fluid can interact with your medications, you should never drink this brew without your doctor’s approval. A safer choice? Try drinking lemon water! This will add a bit of pep to your regular water. And, as an added bonus, the lemon may help flush toxins–and excess fluid–out of your body! Finally, cranberry juice can also be a helpful beverage. Packed with magnesium, potassium and calcium, cranberry juice may help maintain proper fluid balance in your body. (Plus, it could help prevent urinary tract infections!)

Now, other nutrients may also help avoid water retention, but if your edema is related to vein disease, you should discuss serious dietary changes with your vein specialist. And you should also take a look at your exercise routine!

Lymphedema Exercises for Legs to Prevent Ulcers

As long as your doctor has cleared you for physical activity, certain forms of lymphedema exercises for legs can help manage VI, edema and ulcers. Exercises that are particularly effective include:

Walk your way to a lower risk of vein disease!
  • Ankle flexions (point your toes forward, away from the body, then flex them, pulling the toes toward your shin). The exercise is even more effective if performed while standing, or with the addition of a resistance band will further enhance the effects.
  • Brisk walking intervals, scattered throughout the day, will strengthen your calf muscle, helping it contract and push blood out of your lower legs.
  • Treadmill walking, especially at an incline, if this is possible for you, will further strengthen your calf muscles. If you aren’t up to treadmill walking, you can get similar benefits from rocking in a rocking chair, pushing off the ground with your feet to rock.
  • If you already have lymphedema, swimming is an excellent choice. It works because you’re horizontal and in constant motion, without impact on your legs.
  • Riding a recumbent bike is also a good choice because you’ll keep your legs slightly elevated and in motion. But you’ll do so with little impact on your lower body.

Of course, the best way to prevent ulcers is to maintain ideal vein health. If you start to notice any signs of VI or edema, come in and schedule a diagnostic vein scan. That way, we can stay on top of your vein health before more serious problems set in.

 

Sources: thehealthsite.com, healthline.com 

Three Reasons Why Your Veins Become Visible, & When to Worry

Ugh, those visible veins that change your leg appearance! We all want to know that our veins are healthy and working properly…but that doesn’t mean we want to see them through our skin! Unfortunately, several factors make it more likely for your veins to become visible. First, we’ll go over your risk factors and then—because we’re Houston-based vein specialists, we’ll help you figure out how to treat visible, bulging veins!

1.       Your Age Affects your Veins.

The older you get, the more visible your veins become. Why? As you age, your skin becomes thinner and, at the same time, your veins weaken, getting stretched out and collecting more pooled blood. In combination, these two elements contribute to larger veins that are easily visible through your skin.

 

2.       Your body weight makes visible veins.

If you are underweight, or have very little body fat, your veins will appear closer to the surface of your skin and become more visible. At the same time, if you’re overweight, you put more pressure on your legs. In turn, this can make it harder to get blood back up to your heart as it flows against gravity. This means pooling blood can stretch your veins and change their color, making them darker. At that point, you would also notice visible veins, which are a sign of our next contributing factor…

 

3.       Vein disease and Visible Veins

Even without aging, vein disease can cause varicose veins to develop, and these are more visible than veins that work properly. You see varicose veins develop when valves, typically in your leg veins, stop working properly. This keeps blood from flowing out of your legs, causing it to pool in your veins. As the blood accumulates, your veins darken and bulge, becoming more visible.  You may also develop symptoms such as swelling, cramps or leg pain, itching and heaviness in your legs.

Now, keep in mind: Varicose veins affect up to 35% of Americans. Many people think they can ignore the veins, dismissing them as merely unsightly, but not dangerous. But here’s the thing: while the veins themselves don’t cause serious medical issues, their appearance could be a sign of bigger problems brewing beneath the surface of your skin.

sclerotherapy for spider veins
Learn more about spider veins to prevent long-term complications!

Valves and Veins

Veins are blood vessels that return blood back to your heart from other parts of your body. Your veins contain a series of valves that are supposed to open and close easily, helping your body fight gravity to push blood up towards the heart.

Sometimes, those valves don’t work well, and the blood travel suffers—flowing backwards or pooling in your legs and feet. When that condition sets in, you are experiencing something called venous insufficiency. As it turns out, varicose veins can actually be a symptom of venous insufficiency: the pooling blood is what causes your veins to bulge, as they become overwhelmed.

Signs of A Problem

Varicose veins are a visible symptom of venous insufficiency, which is why they are helpful indicators. Other symptoms of this condition include chronic leg swelling, especially swelling that gets worse throughout the day; heavy legs; and, surprisingly, pelvic pain.

Why is it important to identify and treat venous insuffiency? The answer is this: with this condition, varicose veins are just the tip of the iceberg. In severe cases, VI can cause you to develop a deep vein thrombosis ( a clot that forms in the veins deep in your legs.) A DVT is a medical emergency, because if it breaks loose from your leg veins, it could travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism) and threaten your life.

 

Treating Your Varicose Veins

Many times, our Houston vein specialists are able to diagnose VI because a patient seeks treatment for varicose veins.

Thankfully, many varicose veins can be treated quickly, with minimally invasive procedures. And the opportunity to diagnose a bigger, potentially life-threatening problem? Worth every moment of a so-called cosmetic consultation!

Sources: Women Fitness Magazine

5 Do-Anywhere Workouts for Veins

Are there workouts for veins that can prevent vein disease? Well, there are so many reasons why you develop varicose and spider veins. In fact, your genes may be upping your risk!  Even so, you can be proactive about prevention. And part of those changes include exercising more.

Now, even a few simple lifestyle changes go a long way towards preventing these veins from developing. Whether you are starting to see the early signs of varicose or spider veins, or you hope to prevent them altogether, certain workouts can promote healthy veins. Why not make these last weeks of 2021 your time to sweat some vein-preventing workouts (and show off those healthy legs with pride!) We’ve even tapped a top fitness trainer for work-out-at-home safety tips, in case you’re too busy to get to the gym!

Walking workouts for veins

Taking a walk or hike is one of the best ways to give your legs a workout and improve circulation in your legs. Walking is a great low-impact exercise that can strengthen your calf muscles and minimize spider or varicose veins.

Try talking a stroll through your neighborhood, find a nearby greenway to walk on, or plan a hike. If you’re wanting a more rigorous workout, a run will also improve circulation and get more blood returning to your heart, which can help prevent varicose veins.

Ride your bike to smoother legs

workouts to prevent veins

Riding a bike is another exercise that works out your legs and promotes healthy veins. Bonus? It doesn’t put too much stress on your joints, and as you pedal, your calf muscles flex, giving your veins a rest and helping circulate blood back to the heart.

You can ride a stationary bike or a regular bike. Don’t have access to either? No problem! You can still mimic this exercise motion, while lying on your back on the floor, a bed or any flat surface. To get all the same benefits as biking, just raise your legs and pretend that you are pedaling. This will still stimulate blood circulation in your legs and help protect your veins.

Try Swimming or Water Workouts for Veins

The buoyancy of water means that swimming and water aerobics don’t put stress on your joints while still providing cardiovascular benefits. The water resistance will also help workout your leg muscles even more and improve circulation.

If you have a pool, try swimming lap. Or seek out a secluded lake or beach where you can take a socially responsible dip in the water.

Squats and Calf Raises

Squats and calf raises both strengthen your leg and thigh muscles. Now, that’s important. Because strong leg muscle produce strong contractions. And strong contractions help get blood out of your legs and back up to your heart. Which means no blood pooling, and a lower risk of varicose veins.

Of course, position is important with these exercises. See out in-depth guide to calf raises here. Then, think about these elements when squatting. Keep weight in your heels. Push your glutes back instead of down, and try to keep your head and chest lifted as you lower your body. In fact, since doing squats improperly can cause pain, it’s best to check your form with a trainer or even your doctor to prevent injury.

Preventing Varicose Veins

Risk factors that increase your chance of suffering from vein disease include:

  • If your family has a history of vein disease
  • If you are over 45
  • If you are a woman
  • If you are pregnant
  • If you are overweight
  • If you sit for the majority of the day or stand for the majority of the day

If any of these apply, you’ll want to get started on a vein-healthy workout routine. Make sure to discuss any changes in your activity routine with a doctor before starting a new exercise program! And check out these safety tips for working out at home!

Safely Transitioning to a Home Workout

With so much time on our hands, but very few gym spaces available, we’re taking workouts to our living rooms, back yards and neighborhood streets. And this is all great, as long as you stay safe. To help protect your health, certified personal trainer Anita Slaughter, owner of A | TRAIN FITNESS, shares her top safety tips for at-home workouts! And feel free to reach out and train with Anita from home. She offers virtual training and Zoom fitness!

Staying safe with in-home exercise

1.       While exercise has numerous health benefits, if you weren’t exercising regularly before the stay at home mandate, you should ease into a fitness program and slowly increase the frequency, duration and intensity.

2.       It is important to add variety to the fitness program you choose.  Working the same muscle groups, the same way, day after day can lead to overuse/repetitive injuries, so mix it up.  Participate in lower body strength training one day, upper body the next and core the following. Throw cardio exercise in the mix, with walks or runs outside for the added Vitamin D benefit.

3.      Without the normal day to day movement we’re getting, even from our homes to our cars, we are far more sedentary right now than we even realize.  So if you don’t have a 45-60 minute block of time, break it up into two to three 15-30 minute segments each day.

4.      If you have underlying health issues (like vein disease) or you’re concerned about safety, consult a professional.  Telehealth is now available if you need to get clearance from a physician or vein specialist.  There are numerous web options for exercise programs so find one that fits your needs and investigate to ensure they’re provided by a professional who is certified by a Nationally Accredited organization.

Sources: NYU Langone Health, Anita Slaughter, CPT

What is CVD?

CVD (Chronic venous disease, also known as chronic venous insufficiency) refers to several vein problems. And all of those problems are chronic. But what does that mean for you? If you have CVD, you may develop varicose veins, spider veins, and/or ulcers on your lower legs.

Now, that’s what can happen with venous disease. But, why does CVD occur? Well, the condition develops when the veins in your legs can’t return blood to your central circulatory system or heart. Ignore the problem, and CVD will get worse. Which could mean pain, damage to your legs, and other medical issues such as blood clots. That’s why it’s important to know the risk factors and warning signs of CVD. So you can receive a diagnosis and treatment plan before you face serious complications.   

What is My Risk Factor for Chronic Venous Disease (CVD)?

Unfortunately, just getting older puts you at higher risk for CVD. As your body ages, the valves in your vein face more stress. And that can prevent your blood from flowing out of your feet and legs, back to your heart.

Gender is another risk factor. Because women get CVD more frequently than men. Why is that the case? Things like hormone replacement therapy, and hormonal birth control can increase your risk. And so can pregnancy, because it adds to hormonal changes and physical stress. Finally, genetics are a risk factor. People with a family history of varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or other vascular diseases are more likely to develop CVD.

New Data on Diabetes and CVD

In a recent study, researchers discovered a link between diabetes, muscle mass, grip strength and CVD risk. The data suggest that, at least for diabetic patients, having low muscle mass and a weak grip was associated with a stronger risk for CVD, PAD and even coronary heart disease.

In other words, working on your physical strength can help protect you from vascular problems. And that makes sense, since we know that how you live also makes a difference for your vein health. If you’re obese, sedentary or spend lots of time of standing or sitting, you put pressure on your veins. Then, if you add in insufficient physical activity, you’ll really up your risk for CVD. If any of that sounds familiar, now’s a good time to get exercising. Because staying active will help improve your circulation and keep your body better supplied with oxygen.

What are the Symptoms of CVD?

If you experience any of the following symptoms or have chronic or debilitating leg pain, it is best to seek evaluation and discuss treatment options with a medical professional as soon as possible. Left untreated, these symptoms could worsen, causing more pain or even more serious medical conditions.

  • Leg aches and pains
  • Leg cramping and night gramps
  • Tired or heavy legs
  • Restless legs
  • Rashes, skin darkening, or patches of dry itchy skin on the leg
  • Burning or itching veins in lower extremities
  • Ulcers on the leg that are slow to heal
  • Restless legs
  • Blue, bulging twisted veins (varicose veins or spider veins)
  • Recurrent cellulitis
  • Swollen or tight-feeling ankles
  • Lymphedema (a build-up of fluid underneath the skin)
  • Spontaneous bleeding

Texas Endovascular provides several treatment options for patients with chronic venous disease. Contact us to schedule a consultation if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.

Treatment Options for Chronic Venous Disease  

Early detection and treatment can decrease the pain of CVD and reduce the risk of developing additional, more serious medical complications.

Detection and diagnosis of chronic venous disease, as well as arterial disease and blood clots, is done with a diagnostic ultrasound evaluation. This technology enables a sonographer to see inside the body and locate both superficial and deep varicose veins.

We offer wide variety of treatment options for chronic venous disease, including:

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)

RFA involves inserting a catheter into the abnormal vein and using heat energy to close it. The procedure takes less than an hour, requires only a local anesthetic and leaves no scar.

Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy

We often use ultrasound guided sclerotherapy to close any residual, non-bulging varicose veins after radiofrequency ablation. The procedure uses ultrasound to access a vein. Using a small needle, a medication combined with carbon dioxide gas is injected into the abnormal vein to close it. The procedure is quick, and patients are able to resume their daily activities immediately afterward. Anti-inflammatory medications and compression stockings may be used to help manage any discomfort following RFA and ultrasound sclerotherapy.

Our additional treatment options for eliminating bulging and spider veins caused by CVD include:

  • Cosmetic sclerotherapy
  • Radiofrequency perforator ablation
  • Ambulatory phlebectomy

Varicose Vein Help in Texas

Dr. William C. Fox and Dr. Eric Hardee of Texas Endovascular specialize in treating patients with chronic venous disease using state-of-the-art technology and minimally invasive procedures. The results provide quick relief from the symptoms of CVD, and patients are typically able to resume their normal, day-to-day activities immediately following treatment.

If you are experiencing symptoms of CVD, don’t wait to seek treatment. Contact our expert physicians today to schedule a consultation.

Why Does my Calf Hurt When Running?

If you experience calf hurt when running, don’t think it’s just a cramp—it could be a sign of vascular disease. Many athletes notice pain or cramps in their lower legs when they workout or run. Often, the pain improves with rest. Now, these symptoms mimic those of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) And they also could mean you’ve pushed your muscles too hard with your latest workout. But, as it turns out, these cramps could also be a sign of PAES (Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome.)

PAES—The Jogging Disease calf hurt when running

PAES is a condition that develops when your calf muscle gets too large or moves into the wrong position. Then, it presses on your popliteal vein or artery, which is the main artery located behind your knee. The pressure limits blood flow to your lower legs and feet, making your calf hurt when running as well as other symptoms.

Often, you’re born with PAES. But you may not develop symptoms unless you ramp up your workouts. Because it’s the pressure of athletic training that triggers PAES symptoms. Runners often notice PAES pain, but cyclists and soccer players also tend to display symptoms of this condition.

Calf Hurt When Running and Other PAES Symptoms

Cramps and lower leg pain are classic PAES and PAD symptoms. And, with both conditions, the pain improves with rest. In fact, there are other similarities between PAES vs PAD symptoms.

Classic PAES symptoms include:

  • Cold feet after exercise
  • Numbness, burning or tingling calf muscle pain when running or exercising
  • Heavy, numb or swollen legs
  • Calf cramps, especially during exercise
  • Changing skin color
  • Blood clots

Clearly, many of these symptoms are also warning signs of PAD. So, how can your Houston vein specialist determine the cause of your symptoms? A few clinical signs hold the key to diagnosis.

Diagnosing PAES vs PAD

For the most part, your age and medical history can point us towards the right diagnosis. PAD usually affects older adults. Many PAD sufferers have also smoked, and may have other health issues, including heart or kidney disease and/or diabetes.

PAES, on the other hand, affects younger individuals. For the most part, people with this form of vascular disease are young, active and otherwise healthy. So we can usually pinpoint the cause of your symptom fairly easily, when you come into the office. Then, we can perform diagnostic testing, measuring your leg blood pressure, or using diagnostic ultrasound or MRI to take a closer look at your arteries.

Now, seeing us as soon as you notice symptoms is critical. Because, left untreated, PAES can narrow your popliteal artery. This will keep making your calf hurt when running and exercising. But it could also raise your risk for blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). PAES can even cause your artery wall to burst, called a popliteal aneurysm.

Treating PAES Pain in Houston

Once we’ve diagnosed PAES, treatment will involve relieving pressure on your popliteal artery or vein. As interventional radiologists, we will present you with different treatment options. The one that’s best for you will depend on the severity of pressure, and your present condition.

Ready to stop that calf hurt when running and find PAES relief? Don’t waste another day training through the pain. Schedule an immediate appointment with our Houston area vein specialists, and get back to feeling like your best and active self.

 

Sources: Henry Ford Livewell

Stem Cells for Veins May Cure Vein Disease

Could stem cells for veins be the next big innovation in vein disease? Well, the world of vein treatments is constantly evolving, and it seems like every week there’s an exciting new discovery! Recently, Nature magazine revealed a new one: they’ve identified the stem cells responsible for growing new blood vessels in embryos. Why is that so exciting? If the cells can be studied and applied to adults, scientists could also grow healthy new blood vessels. And those vessels could repair or replace old, damaged ones.

New Veins Could Transform Circulatory Treatments

Vein disease sufferers will obviously benefit from newly-grown veins. But so will other people. In fact, this development would improve treatments for heart disease. It could also help manage circulatory conditions like peripheral arterial disease. That’s a crucial development, since untreated PAD can lead to amputation.

Until now, scientists thought that dividing endothelial cells created embryo blood vessels. But this new research proves that the opposite is true. In short, stems cells in the blood create and grow endothelial cells.

Of course,  we can’t yet grow new blood vessels. So we can’t yet apply this discovery to help treat vein disease. In order for that to happen, researchers will have to determine whether the stem cells can grow endothelial cells throughout life. Because there’s a chance this only happens during the embryo stage of development.

Moving Forward with Stem Cells for Veins

Unfortunately, we don’t yet have the methods necessary to track down these tiny stem cells in fully grown humans. And, even once those methods are developed, scientists will need to determine if the endothelial cells that come from these stem cells have their own functions. They will also need to figure out the best way to apply them for use in regenerative medicine.

Even with all the work that’s left to be done, the Associate Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, Professor Metin Avkiran, is positive about the discovery. He says, “Using stem cells to treat patients with heart and circulatory disease has huge potential. But taking positive findings from the lab to patients has often been very challenging. These scientists have looked at how blood vessels develop in the embryo, and their findings have shed important new light on our understanding of the origin of growing blood vessels. Getting these fundamentals right is essential for finding stem cell treatments that will work in patients. These findings could pave the way to new discoveries in regenerative medicine and allow scientists in the future to grow new blood vessels and repair those that are damaged in many forms of heart and circulatory disease.”

In the meantime, managing vein disease can help prevent serious complications. Ready to get help for varicose veins, poor circulation or other vein health concerns? Schedule an immediate appointment with our Houston area vein specialists!

Sources: University College LondonNature Magazine

Pregnancy and Varicose Veins: What You Need to Know

Varicose Veins & Pregnancy

Today, let’s talk pregnancy and varicose veins: the struggle is real. When you first get pregnant, people will prepare you for a lot of things. From nausea and cravings to fatigue and mood swings, chances are you probably think you’ve heard it all. If only that were true.

For as many as 70% of expectant mothers, varicose veins can come as a somewhat frightening surprise. After all, the last thing you want to see during your pregnancy are unexpected (and unwanted) surprises on your body!

What’s worse? Those veins may not stick on your legs. Many pregnant women develop varicose veins of the vulva. Or they get hemorrhoids, which are actually varicose veins in the rectum.

However, there’s no need to worry: while varicose veins may be uncomfortable, they are not dangerous for you or your pregnancy. Learn more about what causes varicose veins during pregnancy, and what you can do to solve the problem safely.

Why Do Pregnant Women get Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins around the legs, breasts, rectum, and vulva are a very common side effect of pregnancy. Because it now has another being to support, your body produces more blood during pregnancy, which can result in added pressure on your blood vessels.

Effects on your breasts

Spider veins on your breasts may appear as your blood volume increases during your pregnancy. They’ll likely appear in your first trimester, and may continue during breastfeeding. At that time, the milk in your breasts can make the veins more visible, but they should fade when your baby weans. 

Now, if you also notice pain, redness or fever, you may have an infection called mastitis. This can develop if bacteria enters your milk duct, and can be serious if you don’t seek immediate treatment.

Lower Body Pregnancy Effects

This effect is particularly pronounced near your lower body, as your legs are responsible for working against gravity to deliver the extra blood to your heart. This blood also moves more slowly than normal, increasing the pressure placed on the veins and causing them to bulge. In addition to bulging veins, the extra blood has been known to cause hemorrhoids and swollen vulva.

It may sound strange, but the varicose veins in your vagina are a common effect of pregnancy. They are caused by increased blood flow to your vagina, and also by your growing uterus, which puts pressure on those veins. Plus, increased production of the hormone progesterone during pregnancy is also a contributing factor to the development of varicose veins. Wherever they may pop up.

Addressing Leg Swelling

Of course, varicose veins aren’t the only troubling pregnancy side effect. So many women also develop swollen legs and ankles. In fact, the two symptoms often go hand-in-hand. And they’re triggered by the same problem: extra weight puts more pressure on your lower extremities. That pressure makes it harder for blood, and other fluids, to leave your legs and return to your heart, so your veins and legs often swell from the extra fluid.

Fortunately, there’s one common solution to both these issues: compression socks. When you wear compression socks while you’re pregnant, they can offer pain relief by encouraging proper blood flow. These compression socks can also help prevent edema (swelling) as well as varicose veins. But what if you’ve already noticed these pesky veins popping up? Just keep reading to find out your next best steps.

Treating Varicose Veins in Pregnancy compression socks and pregnancy

While your varicose veins pose no risk to you or your child during pregnancy, they are unsightly and can be somewhat painful. Fortunately, there are plenty of safe, all-natural options for alleviating discomfort until they recede naturally.

  • Elevate Your Legs: When you have some time to lie down and relax, try to elevate your legs above your heart for about 15 minutes. This will help the blood recirculate appropriately, and is most effective if done at least three or four times a day. To maintain results, consider wearing compression stockings during the day.
  • Practice Proper Sitting: Try not to cross your legs, or sit on your feet, to preserve blood flow.
  • Sleep on your left side. This can promote better blood flow. Add offer a number of other benefits. 
  • Watch weight gain: Being overweight increases your varicose vein risk. Your doctor can suggest a healthy, targeted weight gain based on your pre-pregnancy Body-Mass Index (BMI).
  • Try Warm Baths. These can be especially soothing to varicose veins in your vagina. But stay away from hot baths, as they can be dangerous for your baby.
  • Stay Mobile: While being pregnant can zap your energy, staying active is essential to preventing and alleviating varicose veins. Hardcore gym trips aren’t necessary; simply work in a few walks or some light cardio each day to promote stronger circulation during pregnancy.
  • Skip Tight Clothing: That’s especially important around your stomach, waist and legs, since snug fits can restrict your blood flow.
  • Sleep On Your Left Side: While it might take some getting used to, sleeping on your left side comes with a number of health benefits, including the reduction of varicose veins and an increase in blood flow to the fetus. Sleeping on your left side reduces the amount of pressure put on the vena cava, your body’s largest vein, which is located on the right side of your body.
  • Take Your Vitamins: A healthy diet rich in vitamin C can work wonders for improving vein health during pregnancy, by providing your body with the tools it needs to generate collagen and repair damaged blood vessels.

After-Baby Solutions

In most cases, varicose veins fade on their own once pregnancy has ended…but sometimes, that just isn’t the case. While surgical vein treatments are not safe during pregnancy, they could be your best option for removing varicose veins after you’ve welcomed your child.

If you’re ready to fight back against varicose veins, Texas Endovascular offers a number of varicose treatment options to ensure that you receive the right results for your exact needs. Our procedures are minimally invasive, require only local anesthesia, and can be performed conveniently in-office. Discover what Texas Endovascular can do for your post-pregnancy body, and schedule your consultation today.

Sources: Kidspot, Baby Gaga, American Pregnancy Association

This is the Science on Why You Must Treat Vein Reflux

Are you worried about vein reflux? Well, if so, the science just may be on your side. Here’s the story:

When your circulatory system works properly, your veins bring blood back up to your heart from your lower extremities. Along the way, little flaps (called valves) help the blood flow against gravity. (They do so by closing up as the blood travels past them.) But sometimes, those valves stop doing their jobs well. And that’s when venous reflux can set in. Because some of the blood that’s supposed to travel up and away from your legs gets stuck, pooling in your veins while they darken, stretch and bulge. woman with spider veins on thigh

At that stage of reflux, you may start to notice visible symptoms, like varicose veins. For many people, varicose veins are just a cosmetic concern. But in reality, these unsightly veins can cause serious medical problems. And the study we’ll review shows how important it is to treat even minor cases of venous reflux.

Vein Reflux Linked to Ulcers

The purpose of the study was to explore the effectiveness of different treatment methods for ulcers (hard to heal wounds that often develop on the legs of people with insufficient blood flow in their legs.)

Study author Aleksandra Jaworucka-Kaczorowska discovered that 85% of the ulcer patients she met with also had superficial venous reflux. Furthermore, she found that by treating their reflux with sclerotherapy, a treatment we offer in our Houston area vein clinics, patients’ venous reflux vastly improved and their ulcers healed at a faster rate!

Sclerotherapy is a great treatment option for veins that don’t show signs of serious vein disease.

spider vein treatment in houston tx

During the  procedure, we will inject a solution into your affected vein, making it shrink and close so that blood flow will be redirected through your other, healthier veins. After this process, your vein will eventually shrink and disappear from view on the surface of your skin.

Before performing sclerotherapy, your vein doctor will conduct a thorough examination and review your history to make sure that your vein issue isn’t a sign of a more serious underlying health issue. But if you are a good candidate for sclerotherapy, it is a fast, minimally invasive treatment that requires no sedation or anesthesia. Most patients can return to work or other activities quickly. It may require more than one session to completely treat your spider veins. But since you’ll enjoy a cosmetic benefit and contribute to the fight against leg ulcers, it’s a treatment option that is certainly worth considering!

Are you ready to deal with minor or major vein problems? We’re here to help you achieve your cosmetic and improved health goals. Simply schedule a consultation with our experts. We can perform diagnostic tests and make suggestions for your best treatment options.

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