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Venous insufficiency

Mate hokinga toto ia auraki

Venous insufficiency (sometimes called chronic venous incompetence or chronic venous disease) is a long-term condition. It happens when the walls of your leg veins are weak and the valves in your leg veins are damaged. This makes it difficult for the blood to return to your heart and causes the blood to flow backwards and collect in your veins.

Symptoms include dull pain, which gets worse when standing, cramping and itchy skin. Venous insufficiency causes changes to your skin, making it go brown and get thicker. Your legs may ache and feel heavy, and your lower legs may swell.

Venous insufficiency increases your risk of varicose eczema, venous leg ulcers and cellulitis. It can also lead to varicose veins, thrombophlebitis and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Reducing your risk of venous insufficiency

You cannot control all risk factors, but lifestyle changes can help you lower some risks. This means:

Diagnosing venous insufficiency

Your general practice team can usually diagnose venous insufficiency by talking to you and examining your legs. You're unlikely to need any special tests.

Treating venous insufficiency

The treatment for venous insufficiency depends upon your age and how bad your symptoms are. Treatment options include lifestyle changes to increase your activity and wearing compression stockings.

If you have venous leg ulcers, you'll also need treatment for those.

If your venous insufficiency is very bad, your general practice team may refer you to a vascular specialist (a surgical doctor who specialises in blood vessels) to consider surgical treatments.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed August 2022.

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Review key: HIBLV-403653