Our Podiatrist in Marquette, Escanaba, Upper Peninsula, MI can help you find relief from vein disease
VEIN DISEASE TREATMENT
The slow, inexorable march of time will take its toll, especially on our bodies, so the aging of the American population has brought a variety of health problems into the limelight. These are problems which previously, occurred infrequently and were rarely discussed, because we didn’t generally grow to be old enough to suffer them.
But that has changed. One such malady is termed venous insufficiency. This is the precursor of venous ulcers, which are painful, ugly open sores of the lower leg. Doesn’t sound very attractive, does it? An ulceration of the lower leg is generally due to a malfunction in the deep vein system, which is the series of tubes which return blood to the heart.
Unlike arteries, which have muscle in their walls, veins rely on the action of many small valves to keep the blood moving up. It’s a fascinating system that allows blood to resist the pull of gravity and make its return to the heart, by repeatedly being blocked from flowing backward, ie own, by the valves.
They prevent our blood from flowing backwards when muscle contraction squeezes these deep tubes. The valves keep the blood moving only one way, up, and this is what keeps our circulation, well, circular! Critical to this discussion is the effect of gravity and fluid pressure. As in the ocean, the pressure at the bottom of the body is much greater, when all the fluids above are pushing down on the fluids in the lower leg. When a person stands, pressure in the veins of the leg is greater, but poorly functioning valves will allow more leakage back down.
This is the essence of venous insufficiency, in which the valves become “incompetent”, and allow some blood to flow backwards, in the wrong direction. If this is severe enough, blood will begin pooling in the lower veins, and, over time, substances will leak out of the veins, into the surrounding tissues. One of the things that can leak out is an iron-containing molecule called heme, which is one of the most important substances contained in our blood. When heme leaks out of the blood stream, it stains the skin in a brownish, irregular pattern (since iron is brown).
If the process continues, as it so often does, the skin can become stiffened and hard, and the leg noticeably swollen. This poisoning of the skin may lead to ulcers, which tend to be messy and painful. If the disease process has advanced to the point where ulcers have developed, it has been around quite some time. As always, prevention is the best approach. Some keys to prevention include the maintenance of a healthy body weight, participating in exercise on a regular basis, and protecting your legs from trauma (since such diseased skin will often not heal, and lead to a venous ulcer).
One of the best remedies is to keep moving. Literally, keep the legs moving, since it is muscle contraction which keeps the blood moving. Treatment has generally revolved around the use of tight stockings, tight enough to keep the blood from pooling. If an ulcer has developed, a special type of wrap can be applied, which can be effective with time. These wraps can also be used with a new type of graft material, composed of living, engineered tissue.
This improves the success rate significantly. The newest electrical compression boot system is providing wonderful results, and with usually only one hour needed per day, these boots are very convenient. Clearly, there are options for treatment, including some surgical procedures (which don’t always have the best success rate).
But again, prevention is “worth a pound” of messy wraps, stockings, and pain. So get going, get fit, and get healthy, by getting moving. It’s good for your heart, your head, and your veins! Schedule an appointment with our practice, Superior Foot & Ankle Centers, today an evaluation.