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Veins are soft and thin. Their enemy is pressure! Constant high pressure inside the veins pushing out against the delicate vein walls can gradually stretch them out of shape. When that happens the one-way valves don't close all the way, so gravity takes over and pressure builds up. Even worse, once the valves are damaged, the calf pump forces the blood the wrong direction when walking, this causes even higher pressure in the veins. This is called chronic ambulatory venous hypertension.
High pressure in the leg veins can start for different reasons.
• Many times it's a blood clot, called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, that damages the one-way valves and allows high pressure to build up. People who are overweight, or who have to stand or sit for long hours on their jobs everyday are at high risk.
• The hormonal changes and weight and strain of pregnancy can damage the veins.
• Heredity can also play a role.
Chronic Venous high pressure pushing out against the walls eventually stretches the walls thin. This is permanent damage. Now, blood and fluid can seep and ooze out through the vein into the tissue where they are not suppose to be. As fluid leaks out into the surrounding tissues, swelling interferes with the movement of oxygen and nutrients into these tissues and the removal of waste products, resulting in inflammation, tissue damage, and venous ulcer formation. The escaped blood can turn the skin a brownish color and can take on a leathery feel and appearance.
The skin is now weak and vulnerable, and just a minor little bump or scrape or scratch could snowball into a serious leg ulcer.
• One of the first signs of high venous pressure in the legs is swelling around the ankles usually at the end of the day. This swelling is called edema.
• Varicose veins are a visible sign of increased pressure and damaged veins.
• Standing may cause a dull aching pain that goes away when the legs are raised.