Peripheral venous disease is a term describing damage, defects or blockage in the veins that carry blood from the hands and feet to the heart. Peripheral venous disease can occur almost anywhere in the body but is mostly seen in the arms and legs.
A number of causes can lead to peripheral venous disease. These include:
- Thrombophlebitis (including superficial vein thrombosis and deep vein thrombosis) – An obstructing blood clot (thrombus) has formed, causing the surrounding veins to become inflamed (phlebitis).
- Varicose veins – Abnormally widened veins that are swollen, dark and frequently twisted or contorted instead of straight. They usually occur in the legs, and may cause swelling (edema), pain and a dark colour around the ankles.
- Chronic venous insufficiency – An advanced stage of leg vein disease where the veins become incompetent causing blood to pool in the legs and feet. The blood is not returned to the heart properly, resulting in swelling and may lead to leg ulcers.
Sometimes, peripheral venous disease may pose no risk and occurs without any symptoms, it may also resolve by itself. Home therapy includes:
- Elevating the affected leg above your heart to help pooled blood drain properly.
- Avoiding long periods of standing or sitting. If you must sit for a long period, stretch and flex your legs every 5 minutes or so to keep blood flowing.
- Wearing elastic compression stockings that squeeze the veins and keep the blood flowing in your legs, which makes it more difficult for blood clots to form.
Other non-surgical medical treatments include anti-coagulant therapy and sclerotherapy. Surgery may be needed (e.g. vein stripping) if a blood clot is present and is deep in the vein.