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The Difference Between Arterial and Venous Disorders in Your Legs

Arterial and Venous Disorders in Your Legs

Your legs feel sluggish and they appear swollen. Or perhaps you’re experiencing pain in your legs and there’s no obvious cause for the discomfort. In all of these cases, the issues in your lower extremities may be caused by problems in your blood vessels — either your arteries or your veins.

At Chinatown Cardiology in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Flushing, New York, our highly qualified team of cardiovascular experts has extensive experience helping resolve leg pain that stems from arterial and venous disorders in our patients — and we can do the same for you.

Here, we review the difference between arterial and venous disorders that affect your legs and explain how we go about treating these issues so you can get back to pain-free movement.

Arterial vs. venous disorders

The primary difference between arterial and venous disorders is the blood vessels that are involved. As the name implies, arterial disorders affect your arteries — the blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your body. Venous disorders involve your veins — the blood vessels that return blood to your heart for more oxygen.

Chronic venous insufficiency

The most common venous disorder that affects your legs is chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). The veins in your legs are equipped with tiny, one-way valves that close as blood passes through to keep blood flowing in the right direction — toward your heart.

The valves in your legs are especially hard-working as they need to fight both distance and gravity to propel blood toward your heart. If these valves weaken or malfunction, blood can pool in your legs, which can lead to:

To give you an idea about how common CVI is, 40% of people in the United States have the condition, which tends to develop after age 50.

Peripheral artery disease

This arterial disorder occurs when the arteries that lead to your legs become narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits, which compromises the circulation in your legs. Approximately 6.5 million people in the US over age 40 have peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The primary symptoms of PAD include:

It’s worth noting that about 40% of people with PAD don’t develop leg pain, so it’s important to look out for any other signs of a problem.

Treating PAD and CVI

If you’re struggling with leg pain, our first step is to determine the cause of the problem. We’re equipped to perform extensive vascular studies at our offices, such as venous mapping, arterial doppler ultrasound, endovenous ablation therapy, and peripheral vascular catheterization.

Once we identify the underlying cause of your venous disorder, we can take the steps necessary to address the problem.  In many cases, lifestyle changes can also go a long way toward improving blood flow in your legs.  Such changes may include:

If your symptoms persist despite lifestyle changes, our doctors will develop a treatment plan tailored to your condition.  If your CVI has led to varicose veins, we can eliminate these veins during an in-office treatment using either radiofrequency thermal technique or chemical microfoam ablation technique, both of which is a minimally invasive endovenous ablation procedure.  After the procedure, you will experience an improvement in your symptoms - less pain, less heaviness, less itchiness!

If your problem is more arterial and we find that your PAD is moderate to severe, we may recommend a lower extremity angiogram, an outpatient procedure in which we use a catheter to visualize the extent of blockage.  Then, if needed, a procedure known as an angioplasty can be done to enlarge your narrowed or blocked artery with a small balloon. We may also recommend medications that can help your blood to circulate more freely.  Improving blood flow will help you get back on your feet to exercise and improve your overall quality of life.

As you can see, there are a number of solutions for treating venous and arterial disorders that can help relieve the discomfort in your legs. To determine which approach is best for you, please contact one of our New York City locations to schedule an appointment with our highly trained physicians.

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