The fluid in our body is transported via our vascular and lymphatic systems. The vascular system involves the arteries that deliver the nutrient-dense blood from the heart and the veins that return deoxygenated blood from the tissues, back to the heart for ‘processing’ to occur.
We have specialised body mechanisms within our veins which prevent the backflow of fluid such as valves, in addition to our muscle contractions on movement which assist in venous fluid movement, deep breathing, elevation and external pressure – all of which can assist with return of this fluid to the heart.
When these mechanisms become inefficient fluid can backflow pool remain in the foot/ankle or lower leg often noticed by persistent swelling.
Signs of an ineffective venous system can include pain in the legs when standing for long periods, bulging veins in the lower leg, change to the colour of the skin, swelling that goes down overnight but increases as soon as you are upright and development of wounds such as ulcers which take extensive time to heal.
Common causes of venous inefficiency can be from smoking, blood clot in the vein (DVT), obesity, pregnancy, heart conditions, heredity conditions such as varicose veins, or vocations whereby there is prolonged sitting or standing.
Treatment for these conditions require addressing the underlying issue which is the incompetent vein. External compression, via provision of suitable compression options (garments or wraps) are applied to the limb with a view to bring the vein walls closer, which in turn allows the valves to touch again – effectively preventing backflow.
Bandaging, wound care, exercise and compression are all essential components for comprehensive venous assessment and treatment.
A qualified Lymphoedema specialist can evaluate and treat conditions related to the Lymphatic and Venous systems in the body.