Venous Stasis

Venous stasis is a common disorder that presents itself as swelling in the legs. It is a problem that goes along with many other systemic disorders or by itself. The venous stasis presents itself as swelling, especially in the lower extremities. The venous stasis can vary greatly in severity and has multiple complications that can accompany the disorder.

There are a multitude of specific causes of venous stasis. However, the ultimate cause is a failure to deliver blood back to the heart. In the majority of cases the veins of the lower extremities have stopped functioning properly. This prevents the blood from moving back to the heart in a normal manner.

One cause of the veins not functioning properly is damage to the valves of the veins. The mechanism for delivering blood back to the heart through the veins is different than the way blood is delivered through the arteries. The muscles of the legs or arms contract squeezing the veins in the legs and arms. This contraction of the muscles and squeezing of the veins pushes the blood out of that area. Veins are built with valves prevents the blood from flowing backwards towards the feet. This way when the muscles contract squeezes the blood moves towards the heart. When the valves become damaged the blood is squeezed in both directions and the system does not function efficiently.

Another cause of the venous system not functioning properly is when the veins become incompressible. High levels of cholesterol and fats in the blood will cause the veins to be hardened. These hardened veins will not compress when the muscles contract thus eliminating the squeezing mechanism that pushes the blood towards the heart. A second cause of damage to the vessels is high blood sugars as seen in diabetes. High blood sugars in the blood will actually cause breakdown of the vessels. When the vessels break down, fluid leaks into the tissues. As the tissues become saturated with fluid swelling occurs.

Excessive swelling in the legs can cause a multitude of complications. The increased tension on the skin can cause the skin to break down. In some cases dermatitis or discoloration of the skin will occur. In more severe cases large ulcerations can occur. These ulcerations can be extremely large and difficulty to heal. To heal these ulcers a significant amount of compression has to be applied to the lower extremities. This along with wound care is the only way to cure the ulceration.

Venous stasis can also be a sign of more severe cardiovascular disease. Often in cases of congestive heart disease the legs will be swollen due to backup pressure from the heart. It is extremely important to be seen by a healthcare professional if swelling of the lower extremities becomes a consistent problem for you.