Venous Disease: The Vein Clinic of Washington | Chevy Chase, Maryland

(301) 270-8346

Understanding Venous Reflux

Venous valves are located throughout the veins of your legs to prevent the backward or downward flow of blood (reflux). If these valves are damaged reflux occurs; causing blood to flow the wrong way down the vein. This is the cause of venous hypertension and the fundamental cause of all the problems associated with varicose veins or chronic venous insufficiency, and can lead to symptoms such as pain, swelling, swollen limbs, leg heaviness and fatigue, skin changes and ulcers, and varicose veins.

Venous Reflux or Insufficiency

Venous reflux is the impaired return of venous blood from the legs and feet, often manifesting as varicose veins, swelling, aching, skin changes or venous ulcers. In many cases, venous insufficiency is the result of over dilation of the venous vessels in the legs. This dilation eventually prevents the valve cusps from closing properly resulting inreflux.


Normal Vein vs. Dilated Vein

The pooling of blood results in ineffective flow back to the heart. In some cases the reflux is caused not only by the over dilation of the vessel wall, but also by damaged or absent valves. One of the most common manifestations of venous insufficiency is varicose veins. Varicose veins are superficial veins that have dilated in response to increased pressure due to incompetent valves. These varicose veins progressively worsen, and often manifest into other symptoms, if left untreated.

Understanding Venous Reflux

Varicose veins are usually enlarged and unsightly and are often associated with symptoms of discomfort.

Common symptoms associated with varicose veins include:

  • Aching
  • Pain
  • Throbing
  • Heaviness
  • Tiredness
  • Cramping
  • Swelling
  • Burning
  • Itching

Less common signs or symptoms include:

  • Restless legs at night
  • Leg cramps at night
  • Superficial blood clotting
  • Bleeding from a superficial vein after minor trauma
  • Unusual rashes or areas of dermatitis
  • Discoloration of the skin above your ankle (hyperpigmentation)
  • Hardening of the tissues above your ankle (dermatofibrosclerosis)
  • Skin ulceration
  • Blood Clots (DVT)

Vein Clinic of Washington