Venous insufficiency occurs when the veins in the legs do not
return blood to the heart and upper body normally. Causes include long-term
high blood pressure inside leg veins and blood clots in leg veins (deep vein
thrombosis or phlebitis).
The veins in the body have valves that prevent blood from flowing
the wrong way. These valves keep blood flowing toward the heart. Venous
insufficiency means that the valves in the veins have become damaged, allowing
blood to flow backward. This can cause fluid to pool in the legs. This results in swelling of
the legs (lower extremities) and may cause varicose veins.
Symptoms of venous insufficiency include swollen ankles, tight
calves, and an aching or heaviness in the legs.
Self-care measures may relieve symptoms. These measures include
exercising regularly, wearing compression stockings, avoiding long periods of
standing, and elevating the legs.