Your legs are swollen, especially in the evening and summer, and these swellings disappear when you raise your legs? These might be the first signs of venous disease. If the leg remains swollen even after elevating your legs, it could be oedema.
Whatever is the case, you should visit a health care professional for proper diagnosis and to check for underlying causes.
Oedema is defined as a perceptible increase in the volume of fluid in the skin and subcutaneous tissue. Applying pressure on oedema will leave an indentation that remains on the skin after the pressure is released.
Venous oedema usually first occurs in the ankle region; it may also extend to the leg and foot.
There are many causes of oedema, such as standing or sitting for long periods of time, physical inactivity, chronic venous disease, lymphoedema, heredity, pregnancy, surgery, and trauma.
Oedemas of venous origin develop when venous valves don’t close properly and blood stagnates in the veins, thereby preventing the blood vessels from properly functioning.
For an affected person, there is often no visible difference between venous oedema and lymphoedema. In any case, if you experience swelling, you should visit your doctor for correct diagnosis and treatment.
Your healthcare professional will examine your symptoms as well as the presence of varicose veins, trophic skin disorders or skin ulcers that may be associated with a venous disease.
By means of ultrasound, the doctor can visualize the blood flow and check if the development of your oedema is associated with a venous disorder and if the superficial veins or the system of deep veins in your legs are affected.
Early diagnosis of oedema is essential to prevent disease progression and to avoid more serious complications.
To help with venous oedema, medical compression therapy is used as basic non-invasive treatment.
Your healthcare professional can prescribe medical compression stockings. The elastic material of the medical compression stocking provides an active pressure to the leg and gently squeezes the vein walls together.
The strongest pressure is applied at the ankle and decreases going upwards along the leg, thereby easing blood flow back towards the heart, reducing venous pressure, and improving overall circulation.
In some cases, a massage-like technique called manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) can help as well.
Venous oedema originates from an underlying venous disorder, which can be treated with non-invasive compression therapy, but also with more invasive techniques. Different treatment options include:
Injection of a liquid, foam, or glue under ultrasound guidance that causes the veins to shrink and collapse.
Surgical removal of varicose veins. Superficial veins are removed through small incisions (micro-incision phlebectomy); deep veins are removed via vein stripping.
Edema can be a sign of a venous disorder.