Venous insufficiency is a general term to describe abnormal venous return. Spider veins and varicose veins are the result of venous insufficiency involving the superficial veins.

The signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency are variable and not just related to the size of the varicose vein. Common symptoms include achy, itchy and tired legs especially by the end of the day. Vein reflux is very common problem and affects up to 30% of women and 18% of men. Most will have mild cases such as spider veins or varicose veins with mild symptoms. Late stage vein reflux is less common, but creates more serious problems like painful swelling of the legs, changes in the skin colour (stasis dermatitis) and open sores (stasis ulcers).

Causes of Venous Insufficiency

Reflux: Faulty valves will allow blood to run backwards in the vein. This is the most common cause of varicose veins.
Heredity - if your parents or grandparents have varicose veins you are more likely to also develop them
Gender - Women are more likely to develop varicose veins because of the effect of female hormones
• Obesity
• Prolonged standing
• Physical trauma

Obstruction: Blood clots can block flow within the veins. This can happen after developing a blood clot in the leg (deep venous thrombosis).

Failed muscle pump: Long periods of bed rest or reduced activity will decrease the amount of blood that is propelled back to the heart by squeezing of the calf muscles.

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