Venous Insufficiency: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Your arteries carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Your veins carry blood back to the heart, and valves in the veins stop the blood from flowing backwards.

When your veins have problem sending blood from your limbs back to the heart, it’s known as venous insufficiency. In this condition, blood doesn’t flow back properly to the heart, triggering blood to pool in the veins in your legs.

Numerous factors can trigger venous insufficiency, though it’s most frequently brought on by blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) and varicose veins.

Even if you have a family history of venous insufficiency, there are simple actions you can require to reduce your possibilities of developing the condition.

Causes of Venous Insufficiency

Venous insufficiency is frequently triggered by either blood clots or varicose veins.

In healthy veins, there is a continuous flow of blood from the limbs back towards the heart. Valves within the veins of the legs help prevent the backflow of blood.

The most typical reasons for venous insufficiency are previous cases of blood clots and varicose veins.

When forward flow through the veins is obstructed — such as in the case of a blood clot — blood builds up listed below the clot, which can lead to venous insufficiency.

In varicose veins, the valves are often missing or impaired, and blood leaks back through the damaged valves.

In many cases, weakness in the leg muscles that squeeze blood forward can likewise contribute to venous insufficiency.

Venous insufficiency is more common in women than in men. It’s likewise more likely to occur in grownups over the age of 50, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Other threat aspects include:

  • blood clots
  • varicose veins
  • weight problems
  • pregnancy
  • smoking
  • cancer
  • muscle weakness, leg injury, or injury
  • swelling of a shallow vein (phlebitis).
  • family history of venous insufficiency.
  • sitting or representing long periods of time without moving.

Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency

Symptoms of venous insufficiency consist of:

  • swelling of the legs or ankles (edema).
  • discomfort that gets worse when you stand and gets better when you raise your legs.
  • leg cramps.
  • hurting, throbbing, or a feeling of heaviness in your legs.
  • scratchy legs.
  • weak legs.
  • thickening of the skin on your legs or ankles.
  • skin that is altering color, specifically around the ankles.
  • leg ulcers.
  • varicose veins.
  • a feeling of tightness in your calves.

How Is Venous Insufficiency Diagnosed?

Your doctor will want to do a health examination and take a total medical history to find out if you have venous insufficiency.

They might likewise order some imaging tests to identify the source of the issue. These tests may consist of a venogram or a duplex ultrasound.


During a venogram, your doctor will put an intravenous (IV) contrast color into your veins.

Contrast color causes the blood vessels to appear opaque on the X-ray image, which helps the doctor see them on the image. This color will provide your doctor with a clearer X-ray picture of your blood vessels.

Duplex Ultrasound

A kind of test called a duplex ultrasound might be used to check the speed and instructions of blood flow in the veins.

A technician will place some gel on the skin and then press a little hand-held device (transducer) versus this location. The transducer utilizes sound waves that get better to a computer and produce the images of blood flow.

How Venous Insufficiency Is Treated

Treatment will depend upon numerous factors, including the factor for the condition and your health status and history. Other aspects your doctor will consider are:

  • your specific symptoms.
  • your age.
  • the severity of your condition.
  • how well you can endure medications or procedures.

The most common treatment for venous insufficiency is prescription compression stockings. These unique flexible stockings apply pressure at the ankle and lower leg. They help enhance blood flow and can minimize leg swelling.

Compression stockings come in a series of prescription strengths and various lengths. Your doctor will assist you choose what the best type of compression stocking is for your treatment.

Treatment for venous insufficiency can include a number of different techniques:

Improving Blood Flow

Here are some ideas to improve your blood flow:

  • Keep your legs elevated whenever possible.
  • Wear compression stockings to apply pressure to your lower legs.
  • Keep your legs uncrossed when seated.
  • Exercise routinely.


There are also a number of medications that may assist those who have this condition. These include:

  • diuretics: medications that draw additional fluid from your body that is then excreted through your kidneys.
  • anticoagulants: medications that thin the blood.
  • pentoxifylline (Trental): a medication that assists improve blood flow.


Often more major cases of venous insufficiency need surgery. Your doctor may recommend one of the following surgery types:

  • Surgical repair work of veins or valves.
  • Getting rid of (stripping) the damaged vein.
  • Minimally intrusive endoscopic surgery: The surgeon inserts a thin tube with a video camera on it to help see and tie off varicose veins.
  • Vein bypass: A healthy vein is transplanted from somewhere else in your body. Typically utilized just in the upper thigh and just as a last alternative for very severe cases.
  • Laser surgery: A fairly new treatment that utilizes lasers to either fade or close the broken vein with strong surges of light in a little, particular location.

Ambulatory Phlebectomy

This outpatient procedure (you won’t have to spend the night in the hospital) includes your doctor numbing certain spots on your leg, and then making small pricks and getting rid of smaller varicose veins.


This treatment technique is typically booked for sophisticated venous insufficiency.

In sclerotherapy, a chemical is injected into the harmed vein so that it’s no longer able to carry blood. Blood will return to the heart through other veins, and the harmed vein will eventually be absorbed by the body.

Sclerotherapy is used to destroy small to medium veins. A chemical is injected into the damaged vein so that it’s no longer able to carry blood.

Catheter Procedures

In severe cases, your doctor can use a catheter procedure for bigger veins. They’ll place a catheter (a thin tube) into the vein, heat the end of it, and after that remove it. The heat will trigger the vein to close and seal as the catheter is taken out.

How to Prevent Venous Insufficiency

If you have a family history of venous insufficiency, you can take steps to minimize your opportunities of establishing the condition:

  • Don’t sit or stand in one position for long stretches of time. Get up and walk around often.
  • Don’t smoke, and if you do smoke, give up.
  • Get routine exercise.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
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