The circulatory system is very easy to understand. Think of it as a plumbing circuit with a “supply” side and a “return” side, and the heart is the pump driving the entire process. When your heart beats, it pumps blood out to your body through blood vessels called arteries. This is the supply side. Once your body utilizes the oxygen and nutrients in the blood, the blood is collected and returned to your heart. This collecting system is the veins of your body. So, arteries are the supply side, and veins are the return side.
Because humans are upright creatures, the arteries have gravity working with them. But the veins must transport blood upward towards the heart and hence have to work against gravity. Therefore, the veins have some structural differences from arteries, helping them in this “against gravity” journey. One of these critical structural differences are 1-way check valves that exist in veins but not in arteries.
Your legs have 80-100 of these one-way check valves that facilitate the upward transport of blood. If these valves fail and become “leaky” (also called “insufficient valves”) for any reason, blood pools in your legs. This is called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). This condition, CVI, has many symptoms such as aching, pain, heaviness, swelling, itching and restless legs. Most of the time the symptoms are accompanied by physical signs such as spider veins, varicose veins, swelling or leg ulcers. But 20% of all people with CVI have totally normal looking legs. CVI is easy to diagnose with a good physical exam and ultrasound, which is covered by insurance.
If you have aching, pain, heaviness, swelling and itching of the legs, don't live in discomfort. Dr. Nellestein is the premier vein doctor in St. Joseph, Missouri and most treatments are covered by your insurance plan. Call the office to schedule your consultation and be done with the symptoms of CVI once and for all.