Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis is a serious condition that occurs when a blood clot, also known as a thrombus, forms in a vein deep within the body. Clots most frequently form in the legs and can affect blood circulation. Deep vein thrombosis can lead to pulmonary embolism if the clot breaks loose and travels to the lungs.
Some people may experience pain, redness and swelling in the legs, ankles and feet, but symptoms may not arise until a pulmonary embolism is present, which can cause chest pain, shortness of breath and dizziness.
Treatment for deep vein thrombosis aims to keep the blood clot from getting bigger, breaking loose and causing a pulmonary embolism. This can be accomplished through anticoagulant (blood thinning) medications, thrombolytics to break up the clot or filters to prevent it from travelling to the lungs. Compression stockings can help increase circulation and may useful in both treating and preventing deep vein thrombosis.
Lymphedema involves a swelling in certain areas of the body that occurs as a result of a blockage within the lymphatic system, and is a common side effect of surgery or radiation therapy performed to treat breast cancer. Your doctor can diagnose lymphedema through a physical examination and measurement of the affected areas in comparison to unaffected areas. If significant lymphedema is noted, treatment may be administered through physical therapy, massage, compression banding or exercise.
Patients can prevent lymphedema by avoiding muscle strain, tight clothing, infection, burns and by maintaining a healthy weight. It is also important to follow your doctor's instructions for post-treatment care of the breasts.
Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage of the peripheral nerves, which branch out from the brain and spine to the rest of the body. It typically begins with pain, numbness, tingling, burning or weakness in the feet, legs and/or hands, and may progress to more serious conditions such as ulcers, pain and loss of sensation. Numbness is especially dangerous, as patients sometimes do not detect an injury until the damage is so pervasive that the limb requires amputation.
Peripheral neuropathy may develop because of a nerve disease or as a side effect of an illness or medication. Common causes are diabetes, chemotherapy, chronic alcoholism, multiple sclerosis and heavy metal toxicity. Some of the latest surgical techniques used to treat peripheral neuropathy are nerve decompression and partial joint denervation to relieve foot, ankle, knee and leg pain.
Varicose veins are swollen, dark blue or purple blood vessels that you can see and feel beneath the skin. They often look like twisted cords, appearing on the calves, inside of the legs and ankles. Varicose veins form when the valves within a vein weaken and allow some blood to flow backward. The vein weakens under the additional strain and balloons outward, raising the skin surface.
Varicose veins are typically diagnosed through a physical examination of the affected area. Treatment options begin with conservative methods, such as losing weight, keeping the legs elevated and wearing compression stockings. Varicose veins that remain unresponsive to these methods may require more advance forms of treatment.
Sclerotherapy treats varicose veins by injecting a solution into the veins, causing them to gradually disappear; results are often achieved within four treatment sessions. Endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) is a minimally invasive procedure that treats varicose veins by applying a laser probe to the affected area. Your doctor will determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your individual condition.
A venous skin ulcer is a small wound that appears on the skin when the leg veins do not carry blood back to the heart, a condition known as venous insufficiency. Venous skin ulcers develop on the skin after the blood vessels in the leg and the surrounding tissue break down. These ulcers are often found above the ankle and below the calf. The skin in the affected area may appear dark red or purple and may feel thickened, dry and itchy. Ulcers can also cause pain, swelling and aching.
It is important to treat venous skin ulcers as soon as they appear to help facilitate the healing process and prevent infection. Most venous skin ulcers can be treated by improving circulation in the affected area by elevating your legs above the level of your heart and wearing compression stockings to prevent blood from building up in the legs. Skin grafting or vein surgery may be needed to treat ulcers that do not heal within six months or become infected.