From varicose veins and leg ulcers to compression therapy, L&R answer all of our questions about treating and preventing venous disease
What is venous disease?
In our bodies, blood is delivered from the heart to the rest of the body and has to flow from our feet and legs towards our heart through our veins. As the blood flow works against gravity, blood can sometimes pool in our lower legs and feet. This pooling increases the pressure in the veins, which can cause damage, resulting in venous disease.
What are the symptoms of venous disease?
One of the most common symptoms of venous disease is varicose veins This is where veins bulge and stretch when blood does not return to the heart efficiently, and is caused by stretched veins and damaged valves.
You should also look out for tired aching legs, spider veins (tiny blood vessels which have stretched to become visible), swollen ankles (puffiness from blood and fluid pooling in the legs, often caused by standing or sitting for long periods) and ankle flare (enlarged blood vessels by blood pooling in the feet).
Who is most at risk of venous disease?
There are many risk factors involved with venous disease. These are some of the most common risks:
- The risk of venous disease increases with age as damage to the veins worsens over time
- A recent study suggests pregnancy increases the odds of developing varicose veins by 82 percent
- Being overweight or having a large waist circumference increases the risk of venous disease
- If you stand for long periods due to work or a hobby this can increase your risk of developing venous disease
- Sitting for a long time without moving around can increase the risk of leg problems. This includes sitting at a desk for long-periods of time
- Smoking can cause damage to blood vessels which can result in venous disease
- Air travel for longer than 3 hours can increase the risk of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
How can lifestyle factors influence or prevent venous disease?
Here’s some top tips to prevent venous disease:
- Regularly moisturise your legs
- Walk and exercise regularly
- Eat a balanced diet and try to watch your weight
- Put your feet up and put your toes level to your nose if you can
- Check your legs and feet regularly
- Get treatment for any knocks or sores if around the ankle, particularly if you suffer from diabetes
- Try to give up smoking
And the factors which can influence venous disease:
- Crossing your legs for long periods
- Standing still or sitting for long periods without moving around
- Ignoring any sores or irritations
- Assuming that your leg will just get better by itself
- Remaining inactive for extended periods, e.g long journeys
What is compression therapy?
Compression therapy is often in the form of compression stockings or socks, which aid the blood in your lower limbs—returning it back up the veins towards your heart.
How can compression therapy help to manage venous insufficiency?
Wearing compression hosiery can help prevent and manage all of the signs of venous disease. Speak to your healthcare professional or pharmacist about an assessment for hosiery. Wearing them can stop your legs feeling tired and heavy, varicose veins will no longer bulge, and any wounds on your leg will have a healthy blood supply to help them heal. Compression hosiery should always be prescribed by a nurse or doctor to make sure it is safe for you to wear.
What are the different types of compression garment?
Most frequently, people wear compression hosiery, which can look like normal socks, tights or stockings. Some people require bandages or a wrap system for a period if the symptoms of venous disease are more severe or they have a venous leg ulcer.
When and how should compression garments be changed?
Always seek advice from a health care professional on guidance to when compression garments should be changed. Activa® and ActiLymph® compression hosiery will deliver graduated compression for 100 washes. Our hosiery will deliver graduated compression for 100 washes. Ideally have 2 pairs prescribed at once to have one to wear and one to wash.Ideally have 2 pairs prescribed at once to have one to wear and one to wash.
What are venous leg ulcers and can they be treated with compression therapy?
A venous leg ulcer is a wound on the skin on the lower leg that fails to heal even after several weeks. They can be treated with a programme of care that incorporates compression therapy. Compression therapy supports your veins to encourage the blood flow back up the legs helping the leg to heal and preventing the wound reoccurring.
If you have a venous leg ulcer it is essential that you see a healthcare professional for an assessment as soon as possible.
How else can venous disease be treated?
It is important that treatment consists of skin care to reduce infection risk, exercise to help with the muscle pumping action on the venous system and compression therapy. Some people also benefit from a non-invasive surgical procedure to help address the underlying problem in the veins. It is important that treatment is planned by a healthcare professional. However, self-management is an important part of the day-to-day management.