What Is Vein Reflux?
Patients often ask why? Why do my legs hurt so bad? Why do they swell and feel heavy at night? Why does it feel better when you’re walking and worse when you’re standing still? Why do elevation and compression stockings help relieve leg pain? Why is this happening!? The answer is a condition called vein reflux.
Vein reflux, also known as venous insufficiency, is a medical term that indicates something that is going in the wrong direction (like acid reflux in the stomach). To best understand vein reflux, think about blood flowing through your veins as water flowing through a canal. Veins are the canal for blood, and each vein has a system of valves that are the one-way signs keeping blood flowing in one direction back to the heart. When the valves stop working, the blood flows backward causing symptoms and problems.
As the veins stretch out and the valves can’t close all the way, the valves fail. Because the valves can’t close, gravity pulls blood back down into the legs and it stays there, under pressure. This stagnant blood is always worse when you are standing but is improved (somewhat) when you are walking. When the blood pools and builds up in the lower legs, the body reacts with an inflammation reaction in your legs. This is what causes pain, swelling, heaviness, and fatigue.
Compression stockings and leg elevation help alleviate symptoms by helping the valves work better to move the blood out of the legs. Compression stockings squeeze those vein walls together and help close the gap in the valves so they can work better to return the blood to the heart. Elevating your legs uses gravity to get the pooled blood flowing back out of the legs and relieves the pressure in your legs. While compression stockings and leg elevation do offer some relief, they are not permanent solutions for vein reflux which if untreated will worsen over time.
Our initial free vein screening is designed to test for the presence of vein reflux. Once a diagnosis is made, we can begin the process of treating those veins, allowing for the return of normal blood flow and quick resolution of fatigue and leg or foot symptoms.