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Venous Insufficiency Syndrome Guide

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 12/31/2009

Read this article to learn about venous insufficiency syndrome. You'll learn about the symptoms of this condition, and discover how it is treated.

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    Venous insufficiency syndrome, also referred to as post-phlebitic syndrome, is a condition in which the venous system's function decreases because of non-working valves. The non-working valves can be caused by a few different conditions, but previous deep vein thrombosis is the most common cause. When the valves are not working properly, ineffective venous flow and two-way venous flow to the heart result. This causes high venous blood pressure, valvular insufficiency, and dilation of more veins that were not already affected.

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    Symptoms

    Patients with this condition may experience aching, hyperpigmentation of the skin, swelling, and dryness and itching of the lower leg skin. As this condition progresses, if left untreated or if it is being poorly treated, patients may experience eczema and skin ulcers.

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    Treatments

    There are several treatments available for venous insufficiency syndrome. Thorough physical examination is the first step in diagnosing and treating this condition. Your doctor will discuss your symptoms, medical history, and family medical history. Lotions and moisturizers treat some of the symptoms of VIS. Your doctor may advise you to pick the lotion that feels best on your skin. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a lotion or moisturizing cream, especially if you are suffering from severely dry and/or itchy skin. Your doctor may also recommend that you use cortisone cream to treat itching and irritation.

    Graduated compression stockings are often prescribed for this condition. They can help to control swelling and aching in the lower legs.

    Elevating the lower legs above the heart and performing leg exercises can be greatly beneficial, especially for alleviating the aching and swelling. Leg stretching and strengthening exercises will often be recommended. However, walking for at least twenty minutes every day is most commonly recommended to help control this condition and its symptoms.

    Those who experience recurrent ulceration may benefit from surgery. During surgery, the surgeon will “tie off” the diseased vein to help restore a healthy flow. If a blockage is present, the surgeon may reroute the patient's venous blood flow to help alleviate the symptoms of this condition.

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    Resources

    University of Michigan Department of Surgery. (2009). Chronic Venous Insufficiency/Post-Phlebitic Syndrome. Retrieved on December 23, 2009 from the University of Michigan Department of Surgery: http://surgery.med.umich.edu/vascular/clinical/disease-specific/venous/chronic_venous.shtml