Why Do My Legs Hurt? Venous Disease and Your Legs

Have you heard about circulatory diseases of the legs and wondered how they impact your health and make your legs feel? The human circulatory system is made up of the heart and a network of blood vessels, including arteries and veins. The heart pumps oxygen-rich blood through the arteries to all areas of the body, while veins carry carbon dioxide and other waste products back to the lungs and other organs where it is cleansed and re-oxygenated. Vascular disease occurs in both the arteries and veins, but this article will focus on venous (occurs in the veins) disease. Venous Insufficiency A common form of venous disease is venous insufficiency, and commonly occurs in the veins of the legs that carry blood back to the heart and lungs for re-oxygenation. Venous insufficiency is typically comprised of venous reflux and/or obstruction1. These vein disorders make it difficult for the circulatory system to return oxygen-poor blood back to the heart and lungs for re-oxygenation. Gravity helps arteries move blood from the heart down to the feet, but that downward gravitational pull makes it more difficult for veins to move blood back up to the heart. To prevent blood from flowing backwards, veins have small valves that trap blood in between heartbeats. Reflux occurs when the valves begin to weaken and can no longer prevent blood from flowing backward. The causes of an obstruction in the veins are either clotting within the veins or external pressure placed upon the veins by other organs or conditions, such as pregnancy. One of the most common occurrences of clotting is deep vein thrombosis (DVT)2 , when a clot forms in one of the deep veins of the legs. How are venous insufficiency and leg pain related? Many of the symptoms of venous insufficiency may occur in the legs and feet. They include edema (swelling), skin discoloration, spider or varicose veins, aching or throbbing in the legs... Read more
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