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Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is where the veins in the legs do not efficiently return blood to the heart.  This could be the result of the valves in the veins not properly functioning, a partial blockage of the veins, and/or changes in the vein walls.  

Signs and Symptoms of CVI

  • Swelling in the feet and legs
  • Tight, stiff fibrotic tissue with or without visible swelling
  • Dry, scaly skin on the lower legs
  • Feelings of heaviness or pain in the legs
  • Hemosiderin staining
  • Recurrent cellulitis or other infections

When CVI has progressed, it can cause lymphedema, and the condition is then referred to as phlebo-lymphedema

Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is a highly effective treatment for chronic venous insufficiency.  Treatment is to be performed by a certified lymphedema therapist, and generally includes evaluation, skin care, manual lymph drainage, multilayered compression bandaging, therapeutic exercise, compression garments and education in self-care.

Wounds are commonly found in legs with CVI, and are often slow and difficult to heal.  Compression and controlling associated lymphedema will, in most cases, enhance and speed up wound healing.

In the early stages of venous insufficiency, or when CVI has already been treated, a physician may simply prescribe compression socks.  Compression garments are generally worn during all waking hours.  If you are able to walk, it is important that your compression socks have graduated compression.  This means the socks will provide 100% of the compression at your ankle and less compression up higher, so that as you walk, your calf muscle against the compression sock will work to pump the fluid up your legs.