Venous insuffi ciency is one of the most common medical conditions with roughly one in five Americans affected by the condition to some extent. While the most common form of the condition is varicose veins, it can appear in other forms, such as leg swelling, the development of smaller spider veins, and multiple symptoms such as aching, throbbing, heaviness, tiredness, muscle cramps, and restlessness of the legs.
Traditional medicine has often taken the approach that the only time that leg veins justify treatment is when large bulging varicose veins are present, or if the patient has some combination of the most severe symptoms listed. In this sense, only around half of patients with documented venous insufficiency and symptoms would have been referred for any degree of treatment. If they were lucky, they might just be told to wear stockings for the rest of their lives, but often they were told that nothing could be done for them, or that it “just goes with being a woman,” and that for some reason they are obligated to just “put up with it”. Why is this?
One of the primary reasons that doctors have been hesitant to refer their patients for treatment of their leg veins is that until the past decade, the standard traditional approach to treating the condition was surgical— vein stripping, or some variation thereof. This meant the surgical removal of the troubled veins, forcing the patient to undergo general anesthesia and a procedure of one to three hours’ length. While the veins were generally removed successfully, the recurrence rate for the procedure typically ranged from twenty to fifty percent over the following five years. In some cases, patients have reported that their veins actually looked and felt WORSE at some point after going through all of that!
Read the rest of this article in our digital version.