What exactly is venous reflux disease? Venous reflux is characterized by abnormalities in the blood flow primarily of the shallow veins in the legs. Such abnormalities are frequently related to visibly bulging varicose veins. The resulting condition is called venous reflux disease (in medical terms saphenofemoral reflux) or venous insufficiency.
Venous reflux means that blood cannot flow back up through the legs in a normal way because the veins and valves inside them are weakened and deformed. Consequently the blood “refluxes” which means it sinks back down and pools in the legs.
Erroneously the beginning signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency are frequently considered a cosmetic problem and therefore often left untreated. Unfortunately for the patient, this can lead to more serious problems of the venous system over time.
Venous reflux can affect an individual’s life considerably, particularly if he or she is required to spend long hours sitting or standing on the job. Research has shown that in the United States alone every year more than 2 million workdays are lost and almost $1.5 billion in medical expenses are incurred annually as a result of this medical condition.
In the U.S. nearly 25 million people suffer from venous reflux disease and its accompanying symptoms such as edema, skin changes, varicose veins or even venous ulcers.
If you already have some varicose veins and are experiencing the following symptoms in your legs you may be afflicted by venous insufficiency or venous reflux disease:
- Burning sensations
If you have been diagnosed with venous reflux disease by your physician he may recommend treatment with conservative measures such as
- Increasing physical activity (walking, hiking, biking, swimming etc.)
- Over the counter pain and anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. ibuprofen or acetaminophen)
- Wearing compression pantyhose or stockings (compression or support hosiery with graduated compression)
Your diligent follow through on such conservative measures, especially regular (daily) wearing of compression stockings or support hosiery can be instrumental in preventing or significantly slowing the advancement of venous reflux disease into more serious conditions. Untreated venous insufficiency can lead to skin changes such as hyperpigmentation, lipodermatosclerosis or in most unfortunate cases the development of venous ulcers.
Don’t ignore the signs and symptoms as described earlier – talk to your health care provider early concerning advice and treatment options for reducing your discomfort and alleviating symptoms most effectively.
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