Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) affects about five percent of all Americans. It is directly related to varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, and leg ulcers. Men generally get CVI in their 70s, while women develop it much earlier, in their 40s. Half a million people in the U.S. have ulcers in their legs that are caused by CVI. It is also one of the most common underlying causes of varicose veins. In this series, I’ll look at the best natural remedies for treating it.
In general, CVI is more common in people who are overweight, pregnant, or have a family history of the condition. But other common causes include trauma to the legs because of injuries or surgery, as well as blood clots. Less frequent causes are prolonged standing or sitting leading to raised blood pressure in the leg veins; smoking; lack of exercise; swelling of the superficial veins in the
legs; and deep vein thrombosis or blood clot in a deep vein in the calf or the thigh.
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People with CVI usually have one or more of these symptoms:
— Swelling in the legs and/or ankles
— Varicose veins
— Leg ulcers
— Muscle cramps or itchy and painful legs
— Pain during walking that ceases with rest
— Brown-colored skin (especially near the ankles)
— Legs feel heavy or tired
Conventional medicine offers some treatments to battle this nagging and often painful condition. In order to improve blood flow, patients are told to elevate their legs to reduce pressure in the veins. A compression device also assists with blood flow. And there are of course drugs, too: diuretics help eliminate excess fluid and reduce swelling; and pentoxifylline help improve blood flow. Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a chemical into the veins, preventing them from carrying blood altogether. Finally, less than 10% of CVI patients will need surgery.
In the next part of my series, I’ll look at evidence-based natural cures for this condition.