Harvard Heart Letter

What is venous insufficiency?

Ask the doctorvenous insufficiency

Q. My mother's physician says that she has venous insufficiency. Can she do anything to treat this problem?

A. Venous insufficiency occurs when the veins aren't working properly. Most often, it develops after an injury, surgery, or blood clot damages the veins, usually in the legs.

Veins return blood and fluid back to the heart, so people with venous insufficiency usually have symptoms caused by fluid buildup. These include swollen or painful veins (especially after prolonged standing); a sense of heaviness in the legs; throbbing, achy, or cramping pain; and redness and irritation of the skin.

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