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What is chronic venous insufficiency?

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is best characterised by the inability of a person’s vein valves to transport blood back to the heart. The condition is relatively common, but if allowed to worsen, it can cause health issues. Common symptoms include skin discoloration, leg and foot swelling, and pain. When chronic venous insufficiency occurs, it is because of a problem with the valves, resulting in backwards blood flow. This indicates that blood will begin to pool in the veins, most commonly in the legs and feet.

Chronic Venous insufficiency. Author James Heilman, MD. CC BY-SA 4.0

How is chronic venous insufficiency classified?

The C.E.A.P. classification was developed by eminent phlebologists to standardise diagnosis and evaluate the outcomes of venous insufficiency. This classification is comprised of six stages (C0-C6) that map the progression of chronic venous disease severity.

C0: absence of visible or palpable venous disease symptoms

C1: telangiectasies or reticular veins

C2: varicose veins

C3: edoema

C4a: pigmentation or eczema C4b: lipodermatosclerosis or white atrophie

C5: Venous ulcer is healed

C6: active venous ulcer S: symptomatic, including ache, pain, tightness, skin irritation, heaviness, and muscle cramps, and other complaints caused by venous dysfunction. A: symptomless.

What are the symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency?

Patients are bothered by early symptoms of chronic venous disease, such as a feeling of heaviness in the legs, dull aching, or throbbing. However, as the disease progresses into varicose veins, oedema, and then chronic venous insufficiency symptoms, it poses a significant threat to the quality of life of patients. Especially in stage C6, when active venous leg ulcers are present, patients may experience pain and mobility issues, which can impact other aspects of their lives.

What are the causes of chronic venous insufficiency?

It should be noted that not everyone will experience the same causes of CVI, but the following are the most common risk factors:

  • A history of chronic venous insufficiency in the family
  • Being affected by blood clots or deep vein thrombosis
  • Having varicose veins
  • Lack of consistent exercise
  • Pregnancy
  • Recent leg operation
  • Obesity
  • Consuming tobacco
  • Being affected by phlebitis (swelling of superficial veins)
  • Prolonged standing or being in a sitting position for a long period of time

The condition known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is brought on by damaged leg veins that are unable to function normally. Normally, valves in the veins of the legs prevent blood from pooling into the feet. However, CVI harms those valves, resulting in blood pooling in your legs. This results in symptoms like oedema and ulceration and raises pressure in the leg veins.

What are the treatment options for CVI?

The correct treatment for chronic venous insufficiency will vary greatly between individuals, depending on their age, gender, and current state of health. Occasionally, medication is prescribed to aid in the management of chronic venous disease as well as surgery for severe vein problems. Graduated compression stockings are frequently used for managing the various stages of chronic venous insufficiency. Wearing compression stockings applies pressure to the leg and foot, which helps patients with CVI reduce swelling and alleviate venous symptoms. Numerous compression garment products can be worn daily and are available in compression levels recommended for each CVI severity stage.

A qualified lymphoedema therapist can help you with compression garment prescription. You can search for a lymphoedema therapist here.