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Understanding Chronic Venous Insufficiency

When damaged valves or deep vein thrombosis causes ongoing leg swelling, blood begins to pool in the veins. This eventually causes chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). CVI can’t be cured, but you can control leg swelling to reduce the likelihood of ulcers (sores).

Feet up on footrest with caption: Elevate legs often. Don't stand or sit with legs down for more than an hour. Man exercising in swimming pool with caption: Exercise like walking in deep water supports your veins and improves blood flow. Man putting on socks with caption: Wear elastic stockings every day. If you like, wear other socks over them.

Recognizing the Symptoms

  • If you stand or sit with your feet down for long periods, your legs may ache or feel heavy.

  • Swollen ankles are possibly the most common symptom of CVI.

  • As swelling increases, the skin over your ankles may show red spots or a brownish tinge. The skin may feel leathery or scaly, and may start to itch.

  • If swelling is not controlled, an ulcer (open wound) may form.

What You Can Do

Reduce your risk of developing ulcers by doing the following:

  • Increase blood flow back to your heart by elevating your legs, exercising daily, and wearing elastic stockings.

  • Boost blood flow in your legs by losing excess weight.

  • If you must stand or sit in 1 place for a period of time, keep your blood moving by wiggling your toes, shifting your body position, and rising up on the balls of your feet.


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