Atrium Health Navicent Heart & Vascular Care

Lower Extremities Disorders: Vein Disorders and Diseases

Doctors standing in a hospitalgoing over a patients scan results

Most adults at some point experience discomfort in their legs or feet. This distress may manifest as soreness, swelling, cramping, and itchiness. The malady may be a result of injury, repetitive stress, or just over activity or working different muscles that are typically not used. You may find your legs and feet become very swollen and achy if you walk a significant distance on cobblestones while on vacation for example.

Many times problems with the legs and feet are temporary, but chronic conditions of the lower extremities are most often vascular or venous in origin.


Venous Insufficiency

Venous insufficiency is characterized by the inadequate flow of blood through the veins in the legs, causing the blood to pool in the legs often resulting in varicose veins.


  • Pain is worse when standing
  • Leg cramps
  • Itchy legs and feet
  • Weakness
  • Skin discoloration, especially around the ankles

Causes and Risk Factors:

  • Blood clots
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Heredity
  • Untreated, varicose veins


  • Support stockings that help direct the flow of blood.
  • Medication- Medications such as diuretics for swelling, aspirin for leg ulcers, and anticoagulants for better blood flow are often prescribed. Natural treatments include Vitamin C, Pycnogenol, Bilberry, and Sweet Clover.
  • Surgery- Surgeries include vein stripping, surgical repair, and transplanting a healthy vein from another part of the body.

Venous Ablation for Lower Extremity.

Venous Ablation is a condition involving the larger blood vessels under the skin and is often associated with edema.


  • Heaviness feeling in legs
  • Swelling or edema
  • Spider veins

Causes and Risk Factors:

  • Heredity
  • Occupations which require extended periods of standing
  • Pregnancy


  • Injections to direct blood flow
  • Low sodium diet
  • Leg elevations

Peripheral Neuropathy

There are many forms of Peripheral Neuropathy but in general it refers to conditions with damage to the peripheral nervous system.


  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Prickling
  • Weakness
  • Touch distortion
  • Temporary Distortion

Causes and Risk Factors:

  • Small vessel disease
  • Vasculitis
  • Autoimmune disease "“ such as Lupus. Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tumors- both benign and malignant
  • Infections- especially from insects such as ticks and mosquitoes
  • Kidney Disorders


The treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy depends on the origin and cause. The disorder falls into three basic types:

Motor nerve

Characterized by muscle weakness, cramps, and tingling

Sensory nerve

Symptoms include touch sensitivity and coordination problems

Autonomic nerve

Bladder and bowel control problems

A healthy lifestyle including a balanced diet and physical activity are an important part of Peripheral Neuropathy treatment. Medications to relieve symptoms include NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and electrode pain therapy.

Lower Extremity Disease

Lower Extremity Disease is also known as Leg Artery disease. It is a condition where blood is prevented from reaching the legs and feet. It causes during activity during running and walking. It can cause leg ulcers, gangrene and tissue death.


  • Blisters and ulcers
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • Slow growing nails
  • Hair loss

Causes and Risk Factors:

  • Smoking
  • Advanced age
  • Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure


  • Platelet inhibitors
  • Thrombolytic drugs
  • Bypass or synthetic grafts
  • Angioplasties
  • Amputation

Conditions and diseases of the lower extremities can be severe or even fatal as they impact the heart and other organs. There are many variations of the disease, and it is important if you have symptoms that persist, you see a physician for a physical. Of course, it is always important to eat a healthy diet and to get adequate exercise.