CVI, or chronic venous insufficiency, is a condition in which the valves in your veins don’t work properly. This makes it difficult for the veins in your legs to carry blood back to your heart.
CVI is actually quite a common condition, affecting up to 40% of people in the U.S. It is a serious health concern, as new studies show that it increases your risk for both heart disease and overall mortality. Plus, because it is a chronic problem, it can lead to more immediate side effects like swelling of the legs and feet, pain in your legs and spider veins.
Symptoms of CVI
Some symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency include:
- Heavy legs
- Throbbing or dull aches in the legs
- Swollen legs and ankles
- Itchy, cramped legs
- Changes in skin color—especially dark patches
- Thickened ankle skin
- Spider veins
- Blood clots
What Causes Chronic Venous Insufficiency?
Certain factors may increase your risk of developing CVI:
- A family history of the condition
- Past blood clots
- Varicose veins
- Gender (it’s more common in women, although one study suggests that men over 55 have a higher risk for CVI)
- Long periods of sitting or standing
- Lack of mobility, or being sedentary
- Age, as being over 55 dramatically increases your CVI risk
Exercises that Help
While we have many ways to treat CVI, exercise is an important part of managing this condition. Here are some of the best options to help you feel better.
Choosing a low-impact walking workout will strengthen your calf muscles so blood will get out of your legs at a faster pace.
This is a stationary move that strengthens your entire leg, and helps get blood circulating. To try, lie down flat on your back. Working on one leg at a time, raise your leg to the ceiling and hold it in place for 10 seconds. Slowly lower that leg while raising the other, repeating for 10 reps on each side.
We can’t say enough about calf raises. That’s why we devoted this entire post to their benefits. Check it out!
We love this zero-impact workout because it takes all the pressure off your bones while strengthening your leg muscles to improve circulation.
Vein Healthy Yoga Poses
One of the best poses for chronic venous insufficiency is also one of the most relaxing. To try it, lie down on your back on a flat surface, close to a wall. Face your feet towards the wall, and slowly walk both legs up it, until they form a 90-degree angle against the floor. Hold the position as long as you feel comfortable, to get blood out of your legs and prevent pooling and vein stretching.
Treating CVI in Houston and Dallas
Untreated venous insufficiency increases your risk for venous ulcers and for DVTs. Depending on the severity of your condition, and your individual health profile, your treatment for CVI will differ. Only your vein specialist can determine the right course of treatment. There are, however, several common courses of treatment that we should review:
Some medications may help you manage CVI symptoms by working to improve the flow of blood within your vessels. These include:
- Duretics, because they remove excess fluid from your body, reducing the volume that has to flow through your vesses.
- Anti-inflammatories like pentoxifylline
- Anti-coagulants or blood thinners, which prevent blood clots and keep your blood in a condition for optimal flow.
Preventing Vein Insufficiency
If you’re beginning to notice symptoms of CVI, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor and schedule a diagnostic vein scan. After that, try some of these steps:
- Wear compression stockings. These special elastic socks or tights apply pressure to your lower leg and foot, reducing any swelling you may be experiencing and improving blood flow to the area.
- Put your feet up. By elevating your feet to a level above your heart, you can help your body move the blood out of your legs and back to where it belongs.
- Protect your skin. People with CVI are more prone to skin infections like dermatitis or cellulitis. To protect yourself against these conditions, you should regularly moisturize your skin to prevent dryness and flaking. Make sure to exfoliate your skin regularly to get rid of dead cells and follow your vein specialists instructions regarding any prescription ointments you may need to incorporate into your skin care routine.
Worried about CVI and hoping to prevent complications? We’re here to help. Schedule a consultationSchedule a consultationSchedule a consultation with our Houston vein specialists, so we can give you a treatment plan to manage CVI.
Sources: Johns Hopkins Medicine