Did Hurricane Irma take a toll on your legs with swelling and pain?
We may have your solution!
As Hurricane Irma was bearing down on us, we all had to quickly prepare and then make the difficult decision to stay or evacuate. For those who stayed, there were days of sitting and waiting for the storm to approach, and then watching as it inflicted it’s wrath, leaving many without power. Those who chose to evacuate faced long lines at the airport or bumper to bumper traffic for trips that took hours longer than usual.
As things started to get back to normal and patients returned to the office, I have been struck by how many patients had new or worsening leg symptoms during and after the hurricane. For patients with venous disease, sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time is very difficult and can lead to significant pain and swelling. This was further worsened by the lack of air conditioning and the fact it was too hot to wear compression socks. The arduous travel and long periods of relative inactivity before and after the storm while trapped at home, in a car or in a hotel room was very difficult for patients who suffer from a medical condition known as venous insufficiency.
Venous insufficiency is a condition where the valves in the venous system in the legs fail, leading impaired blood to return to the heart. Blood pools in the leg veins, especially when standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time as was required for so many during the storm. This leads to abnormally high pressure in the veins or venous hypertension which is the cause of the many symptoms of venous insufficiency.
Venous insufficiency is a very common and underdiagnosed condition affecting millions of Americans. Heredity is the major risk factor and the disease becomes more prevalent after age 50 affecting both men and women. Other risk factors include a history of blood clots or DVT, obesity, standing or sedentary occupation, female gender and prior pregnancies.
Most people are aware of the most common sign of venous insufficiency which is varicose veins, but many people without varicose veins also have this condition. Legs swelling as well as achy, heavy or tired legs at the end of the day are frequently reported and in severe cases, the skin around the ankles can become discolored, thickened or even ulcerated.
As the pressure in the venous system builds throughout the day when patients are on their feet, symptoms progress and are often worse in the evening or bedtime. This is when lesser known symptoms such as restless legs, leg cramps and excessive urination become problematic and can affect sleep. A trial of compression hose best predicts if these symptoms will respond to venous interventions.
At Vein Specialists, we offer comprehensive, modern vein evaluation and care. Dr. Joseph Magnant and I are board certified surgeons focused 100% on the management of venous disease. We start by performing a complete history and physical examination and then offer detailed ultrasound evaluations in our office allowing us to formulate the best treatment plan for each patient.
Modern vein evaluation and intervention is much different than it was years ago when procedures such as vein stripping were invasive, required general anesthesia, and had unacceptably high complication rates. In many cases the best treatment option for patients with venous insufficiency today is something called endovenous ablation. This can be accomplished with either laser or radiofrequency catheters that allow us to heat and permanently seal the poorly functioning vein decreasing the venous pressure in the legs and significantly improving symptoms. This procedure is minimally invasive and offered under local anesthesia in both our office locations with minimal discomfort.
The newest treatment option for vein closure is Venaseal™, which closes the vein using a medical adhesive rather than heat, and offers the advantage of requiring fewer injections. We also perform removal of varicose veins through small incisions, called microphlebectomy, as well as injection sclerotherapy for bleeding or spider veins. Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) for the investigation of patients’ pelvic or iliac veins is now available and may be appropriate for patients who have failed previous vein treatments or have had recurrent symptoms years later.
If you or a loved one has varicose veins or any of the other signs or symptoms of venous insufficiency, please consider visiting our website at Weknowveins.com for more information. Though the power is back on and hopefully life is getting back to normal, now is the time to be evaluated if you experienced any problems with your legs during or after the hurricane. Dr. Magnant and I see patients along with our highly skilled nurse practitioners in both our Fort Myers and Bonita Springs/ Naples locations daily, so call for an appointment today.
1500 Royal Palm Square Blvd., Suite 105 Fort Myers, FL 33919
3359 Woods Edge Cir., Suite 102 Bonita Springs, FL 34134
Both offices can be reached at (239) 694-8346.