Ulcers, Swelling, and Cramping: Spotting the Warning Signs of Vein Disease

If your body is a car, the heart is the engine. It pumps blood through your body to supply oxygen to your organs and tissues. Even though the heart is a central part of blood flow, it relies on multiple accessories, like veins, to keep things moving.

In your legs, your veins contain valves that let blood out, but don’t let blood flow backward. Vein disease occurs when these valves no longer do their job. When the valves stop working, blood is no longer forced upward and begins to pool. Pooled blood can cause ulcers, swelling, and cramps. If left untreated, vein disease can have serious and potentially fatal consequences. Luckily, there are also ways to treat vein disease and keep your circulatory system in tip-top shape.

Are you suffering from leg ulcers, swelling, or cramps? You may be suffering from vein disease. At MD Vein & Skin Specialists, Dr. Clement Banda and the rest of our team can help you get the treatment you need. Dr. Banda will use his 25+ years of medical experience to make sure your veins keep your blood flowing for years to come.

Vein basics

Your veins return blood to your heart after it circulates through your organs and tissue. Arteries supply oxygenated blood to tissue and organs, while veins bring deoxygenated blood back. Arteries are made of fairly thick muscle that helps them keep flowing in addition to the pumping force of the heart. Veins are weaker and do not benefit from the force of the heart to help move the blood along and thus leg veins have valves to keep blood moving in the right direction up towards the heart.. Think of valves as turnstiles – blood can move in the correct direction, back toward the heart, while the incorrect direction is blocked.

Venous disease occurs when the valves in your legs don’t perform correctly. The damaged valves are unable to keep pushing blood upward. Instead of returning to the heart, some of the deoxygenated blood flows backwards and pools at the next working valve. The pooled blood puts pressure on the walls of the veins.

Leg ulcers

Vein disease, also known as venous disease and chronic venous insufficiency, can cause skin ulcers called venous stasis ulcers to develop. The culprit here is the chronic high pressure, or chronic venous hypertension, on the walls of the veins. The ulcers can occur anywhere from the mid-calf to the toes, but most commonly appear near the inner aspect of the ankle.

Treatment options include local wound care, elevation of the legs, elastic compression socks, and treatment of the infected area. To prevent future or recurring ulcers, Dr. Banda will look to treat the underlying causes of them – abnormal blood flow and venous disease.

Leg swelling

Swelling is one of the chief consequences of blood pooling in the legs. It makes the legs tender to the touch and can lead to serious and fatal complications. If you suffer from leg swelling after a long day spent sitting or standing, you likely have a vein disorder. Although chronic venous insufficiency is the most common cause of leg swelling, other possible causes include obesity, deep vein thrombosis, chronic obstruction of veins in the leg because of previous deep vein thrombosis, or failure of the calf muscles to pump venous blood out of the legs. Treatment options include:

Leg cramping

Venous disease is often overlooked as a cause of leg cramps. If you’ve ever experienced these cramps, you know the extreme pain of being unable to move a suddenly and violently contracted muscle. Cramps caused by venous disease often occur in the calf.

If your cramps are determined to be a result of poor blood flow due to venous disease, you have a few options. Initial treatment recommendations largely involve lifestyle tweaks. They include:

If these changes do not work, Dr. Banda may recommend the following minimally invasive procedures:

If you experience leg ulcers, swelling, or cramps, it’s time to see Dr. Banda at MD Vein & Skin Specialists. Call or book an appointment at our Columbia office today. 

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