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Healthy legs: Keep the circulation going
Carol Falk takes measurements for compression stockings recently at Allina Health Home Oxygen & Medical Equipment (HOME). HOME offers various products to help keep your legs healthy.
For more information, go to allinahealth.org/vascular. For an appointment with vascular surgeon Kellie Newman, MD, call New Ulm Medical Center, 507-217-5000.
People don’t like how varicose veins look. But they also are evidence of a common condition called venous insufficiency that can be prevented and treated.
"There are things you can do for good circulation and healthy legs – as well as your heart and the rest of your body," said Thomas Biggs, MD, medical director of United Vascular Clinic, part of United Heart & Vascular Clinic and Allina Health. "Watch your weight, stay active and don’t smoke."
Kellie Newman, MD, is a general surgeon at New Ulm Medical Center. She does ablation procedures to help people whose legs veins are not working properly, and phlebectomy procedures to treat swollen and inflamed surface veins.
Newman offered these additional leg wellness tips:
"For many patients, bad veins are hereditary and hard to prevent," Newman said. "Injections known as sclerotherapy can help get rid of the small veins known as spider veins. Vein ablations are a nice, minimally invasive alternative to vein stripping."
Age, obesity, smoking and multiple pregnancies can put you at risk for venous insufficiency, Biggs said, as can previous leg injuries or surgery, blood clots or phlebitis.
What causes chronic venous insufficiency?
Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart. Veins take blood back to the heart with the help of valves that open and close, plus pumping action from the calf muscles. If your valves are weak or damaged, blood can leak from deep veins and pool in veins near the skin’s surface. The surface veins become more dilated over time and the condition gets worse. Without treatment, you may experience pain, swelling, and leg ulcers.
While chronic venous insufficiency can be a major problem it is rarely life threatening. It differs from two other conditions that involve blockages: peripheral artery disease (PAD) and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Pain from PAD, which is caused by cholesterol deposits in leg arteries, can start suddenly during walking and go away when you stop. With DVT, a blood clot in a deep leg vein cause persistent pain and swelling. DVT’s require urgent medical attention. Blood thinners can dissolve these clots, which are most dangerous if they travel to the lungs.
What can you do about chronic venous insufficiency?
If you think you may have venous insufficiency, you can talk to your primary doctor and get a referral to a specialist if needed.
Compression stockings can help prevent vein valve problems from getting worse. They are available through Allina Health Home Oxygen & Medical Equipment (HOME) and its showroom at 1601 S. Broadway in New Ulm.
Vein ablation is a way to correct valve problems with minimal pain and bruising, Newman said, adding: "We encourage people to get back to normal activities as soon as possible. Ablation could be right for you if you have bad valves or reflux, where blood moves in the wrong direction."
Source: New Ulm Medical Center - Health Edition
Reviewed by: Kellie Newman, MD
First Published: 02/25/2013
Last Reviewed: 02/25/2013