It has been a very long time since we have discussed the major diagnosis of people who wear compression hosiery or compression socks … Venous Insufficiency. I thought it might be a good time to revisit this malady, its causes and treatment.

One of the first signs you may experience in venous insufficiency is tired, heavy legs, discoloration or swelling. You may experience minor pain. These symptoms may be the result of insufficient blood flowing back to the heart. As the blood pools or congests in the legs, the veins become insufficient. They expand to accommodate the volume of blood in the lower leg and even appear to meander. Up to 13 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).

Competent Vein

Competent Vein

Most leg problems are caused by age, obesity, sedate lifestyle, standing or sitting for long periods of time, past surgeries, pregnancy, or heredity. You must remember the heart is a one-way pump. The heart pumps blood from the heart through the arteries to the various parts of the body. The veins have the arduous task to return the blood to the heart along with waste and metabolic residue. The movement of the blood toward the heart can be a challenge. Gravity forces the veins to work harder to return the blood to the heart. The veins have little one way valves that work with the leg muscles to pump the blood back to the heart.  In a normal vein, one way valves are located ever 2 – 5 cm to aid in the proximal flow toward the heart. When calf muscles relax, the valves close to prevent blood from flowing backward into the lower part of the veins. These valves are fragile and can be easily damaged. The contraction and relaxation of the calf muscles work as a “secondary pump” to move the blood. Many things can happen that interrupts this blood flow. The valves in the veins may be injured

Contraction of the calf muscle

Relaxation of the calf muscle

Relaxation of the calf muscle

so they do not close completely and allow the blood to remain in the lower leg. Fortunately, the compression provided by your support stockings or compression socks assists the muscles to close the valve properly and to pump the blood back to the heart. When blood remains in the lower extremities, it does not pick up the waste products of cellular metabolism and transport them to the liver for detoxification and to the kidneys for disposal. These waste products remain in the lower extremity and when a small scratch occurs it may not heal and it can become a deep wound or even cellulitis.

The moral to this story is you need to get exercise to make those calf muscles pump (you might want to consider the Alex Exercise Pedal Brent spoke of in his last news letter) and wear your compression stockings or support socks. If you are in the very early stages of venous insufficiency, a mild medical compression (15-20mmHg) may be adequate. Something like the Mediven forMen or the pretty Mediven Sheer and Soft. If you have moderate Venous Insufficiency, you might consider in a 20-30 mmHg compression Jobst forMen  or the new women’s Jobst soSoft and if your Venous Insufficiency has progressed further, you might consider, upon your physician’s recommendation, 30-40 mmHg the Sigvaris Select Comfort or Juzo Varin.

If you have venous insufficiency, and have experienced the difference a pair of support hose or support socks can make in your daily life, please scroll to the bottom and leave a comment as a guest.

Thanks!
Vanda