Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) Management
What is CVI?
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI), also known as Ambulatory Venous Hypertension, is caused when valves in veins become faulty.
In a healthy vein, blood passes through the valve moving upward toward the heart as the heart beats (pushes blood). When the heart rests, the valve closes preventing blood from flowing backwards in the vein.
In Chronic Venous Insufficiency the valves are faulty meaning that blood does not advance towards the heart, but instead pools in the legs.
The reason that this condition is called Ambulatory Venous Hypertension is that as we are up and walking (ambulatory) there is more downward pressure exerted on the veins. Because this pressure is greater than what would be found in a normal vein due to the larger amount of blood that isn’t being returned to the heart it is referred to as “hypertension,” or excessive pressure.
This excessive pressure leads to the formation of varicose veins which are veins that are bulging due to being under constant pressure.
Although a tendency to have varicose veins can be hereditary, people who are often on their feet, who regularly lift heavy objects, or who are pregnant are likely to develop varicose veins.
When blood rushes backwards in the veins, more fluid diffuses (comes out of) the capillaries. The capillaries are the purple structures between arteries and veins in the picture. This excess fluid is trapped between the cells. We recognize this phenomenon as swelling.
It is the job of the lymphatic system (pictured here in green) is to remove this fluid. However, Chronic Venous Insufficiency can produce more fluid than the lymphatic system can take up. This is similar to too much traffic trying to all take the freeway home at 5:00 PM. There are more cars than there is space on the road.
Although the cause of swelling related to CVI is not lymphatic in origin, Lymphatic Therapy reduces the swelling in the legs by painlessly removing the fluid caused by the backup of blood in the venous system.
Lymphatic drainage can significantly improve and often eliminate the symptoms (like venous ulcers) of CVI when performed regularly. It does this by improving lymphatic flow which reduces stagnation of fluid in the tissues.
Also common among people with Chronic Venous Insufficiency is a condition known as Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT.
If you suspect you have a DVT you should seek immediate medical care. Signs of a DVT are: sudden swelling in the leg, pain or tenderness in the leg, warm skin on your leg, red or discolored skin on your leg, and veins that are swollen, tender, and/or hard to the touch.
If you have been told by your physician that your DVT is stable, your doctor likely prescribed compression stockings. Pain & Swelling Solutions can help you find the right stockings for you.
Note that Lymphatic Drainage is not advised for someone with a DVT.