Venous disease is common among the elderly. As we age, the valves in the veins that maintain the movement of blood back to the heart weaken and are insufficient to prevent backflow of blood. The blood pools to some extent, allowing fluids to diffuse from the capillaries to the tissue external to the vascular system. This accumulation leads to swelling of the legs and feet, darkening of the skin, and weeping wounds. The darkening of the skin is due to hemosiderin from the blood depositing in the skin. The wounds occur due to increased pressure and erosions. Although surgical treatment of this condition is limited, there are conservative treatments that are extremely effective in preventing wounds.
Treatments that may be considered by your doctor or podiatrist:
- Compression stockings during the day, but NOT at night
- Elevation of the legs above the heart
- If wounds form, an Unna boot may be used to treat and heal the ulcers
- Myofascial release therapy and kinesiotherapy may help women in menopause dealing with venous disease
- While standing exacerbates swelling, exercise including walking, biking, and swimming can improve symptoms
- Swelling may also be controlled with medications, including diuretics
- Venoblation is a surgical option that is reserved for patients that have venous disease that is refractory to more conservative therapy
Venous disease is a condition that, once acquired, requires life-long treatment and management. Working closely with your doctor, you should be able to prevent complications and control symptoms.