By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor
COOKEVILLE – Every day millions of people are suffering with tired, achy, swelling legs because they believe it is just part of working hard or growing older. Others think that varicose veins are just a cosmetic issue that surgery or saline injections can alleviate. Unfortunately, these people are just looking at symptoms and don’t even realize that they may have a true underlying disease, chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), that is treatable.
CVI occurs when your leg veins don’t allow blood to flow back up to your heart. Normally, the valves in your veins make sure that blood flows toward your heart, but when these valves don’t work well, blood can also flow backwards causing blood to collect (pool) in your legs. This causes pressure in the leg and can result in pain, swelling, and skin changes/ulcers in the legs.
This progressive but treatable disease most often goes unrecognized and untreated until it gets unbearable.
Varicose veins aren’t just a problem that older people face.
“It’s becoming more prevalent at younger ages with people who are on their feet all the time, like nurses and factory workers,” said Dr. Brian Gerndt, a board-certified vascular surgeon at Middle Tennessee Surgical Specialists (MTSS).
“We have many patients that have come to us who could hardly make it through the work day,” added Gerndt. “And after we’ve treated them, not only treat them with what we have here, but get them to understand that they need to wear support stockings,elevate their legs at night and get them into a lifestyle that is helpful to their process, then they can be much more productive and have a better time at work. It can be a very disabling disease process.”
Until recently varicose veins were regarded as more of a cosmetic issue by most people, but CVI is a progressive disease. If you don’t treat it, it only gets worse.
Symptoms of CVI include: ankle swelling, visible varicosities (spider veins or varicose veins), swelling and achiness in the legs at the end of the day, general discomfort and ultimately ulcers on the feet, legs and ankles that won’t heal.
There are many treatment options available for CVI from support stockings to surgical options.
The Vein Clinic at MTSS can help determine the best treatment plan for each patient. During the initial visit, a physician will review the patient’s medical history and do a physical exam. If warranted, an ultrasound will be performed and read in-office.
MTSS performs all ultrasounds in-house using techs that are specialized and trained to detect abnormalities related to venous disease. This allows the surgeons at MTSS to evaluate the patient thoroughly without unnecessary delays.
By end of visit, the patient knows what pathology is present, what can be treated, and what treatment protocol the patient will go through.
“There have been recent advancements in the treatment of venous disease, especially in the last several years,” Gerndt added. “We are providing all the newest, least invasive options available.”
MTSS offers multiple treatment options that the patient can choose from, including ablation with RF, Venaseal and Verathena.
“These are all in-office, local anesthetic procedures that do not require hospitalization or even out-patient admission to the hospital,” explained Gerndt. “It’s a quick and easy recovery. You are back to regular activities in 24-48 hours.”
After the procedures are done, the patient is encouraged to adopt a lifestyle that manages the problem afterwards. The staff at the Vein Clinic at MTSS can help with that.
“The benefit is not just what we do here procedure wise but educating people how to manage this problem so they can have a more and more satisfying lifestyle,” added Gerndt. “This can work for everybody. The biggest thing that they have to get their mind around is that this is a lifelong lifestyle issue. Even if we can close three or four veins that make things better for them, they still have to adopt a lifestyle that is going to be preventative for this problem.
“So even if there are multiple surgical options and we do all those, they will still need to wear support stockings. They still need to be elevating their legs at the end of the day. They just need to be aware of the disease – what the pathology is and what they can do to change their lifestyle to improve it. There’s always some learning, even if it’s just education, there’s always something that can be done to improve someone’s lifestyle.”
The Vein Clinic at MTSS is located at 203 N. Cedar Ave., Cookeville. To learn more about chronic venous insufficiency and the treatment options that are available, call (931) 528-1992 or visit www.midtnsurgery.com.