Types of Vein Problems
Types of Blood Vessels
Our bodies carry have a complex system of vessels (or pipes) that carry blood, oxygen and nutrients to different parts of the body.
- Arteries carry blood flow away from the heart and help deliver oxygen to parts of your body.
- Veins carry blood flow back to the heart.
How Do Veins Work?
When blood flows from your heart to your foot in an artery, the direction of flow towards the foot is assisted by the pressure from the heart pump. It is also assisted by gravity. When blood needs to flow back to your heart from your foot, it needs to flow in a direction opposite of gravity. For this to happen, the veins in your body have flaps called valves. The valves keep the venous blood from pooling back into your legs between heartbeats. The flexing of your calf muscle by standing and walking also squeezes the blood up the leg towards the heart.
What are Types of Venous Disease?
Chronic venous insufficiency
If the valves inside your veins become damaged because of venous disease, the valves may not close completely, allowing blood to leak backward or flow in both directions. Chronic venous insufficiency is characterized by pooling of blood, chronic leg swelling, increased pressure, increased pigmentation or discoloration of the skin, and leg ulcers known as venous stasis ulcers.
Varicose and spider veins
Varicose and spider veins are abnormal, dilated blood vessels caused by a weakening in the blood vessel wall. These may or may not be painful or cause other symptoms such as leg swelling and discoloration.
If blood is flowing slowly or you have an underlying condition, blood clots may form in your veins. The medical term for a blood clot is thrombosis. If the blood clot travels from one place to another, it is called an embolus. Depending on the location of the clot, several medical conditions can arise. A few examples are included below:
- Pulmonary Embolism (PE) – Clot in the lung usually traveling from the leg. This can be life-threatening.
- Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) – Clot in the leg. This can cause problems if it turns into a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. It can also lead to chronic problems in your legs.
- Superficial venous thrombosis or phlebitis – Blood clot that develops in a vein close to the surface of the skin. These types of blood clots do not usually travel to the lungs; however, they can cause pain.
- Many other types of clots may form in other parts of the body (e.g., clot in the portal vein of the liver – portal venous thrombosis; clot in blood vessel in the brain – cerebral venous thrombosis).
Key symptoms from these conditions may include:
- Feeling of Leg Pressure or Pain
- Leg swelling
- Discoloration (darker skin pigment)
- Ulcers especially above the ankle
- Bulging vessels
What are the treatment options for venous disease?
Several nonsurgical and surgical treatment options are available for each of these types of venous diseases. The goals of treatment are to reduce your symptoms now and reduce long term complications that may occur if left untreated. NVP has Vascular Specialists able to diagnose and treat your condition in a comfortable outpatient setting.
Contact us today.
Eberhardt RT, Raffetto JD. Chronic venous insufficiency. Circulation. 2014 Jul 22;130(4):333-46. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.006898. PMID: 25047584.