More than half of the amputations performed today are due to various conditions that restrict blood flow in various parts of the human body. Among those, lower limb amputation is quite common and is mostly performed due to venous diseases.
In this blog, we will explain how to identify the progressive stages of vascular diseases. We aim to help you recognize the symptoms and seek relevant treatment for your venous problems. With accurate diagnosis and timely treatment, our doctors at Avis vascular center can help you prevent amputation.
Stages of venous diseases
Around 90% of the blood from the legs are transported back to the heart by means of the deep veins which are located within the muscles. Superficial veins are the ones located below the skin, outside the muscle. Venous reflux may occur in the deep vein or superficial veins and occur due to the leaky valves in the leg veins.
Normally, the leg veins have one-way valves which help blood flow in one direction upwards and towards the heart. When the valves turn leaky and faulty, reflux happens and blood flows backwards towards the feet. As pooling of blood occurs, veins start to bulge. This progressive condition is generally associated with several skin changes. Recognizing them and seeking treatment in a timely manner will ensure that the severity of the condition is reduced.
Various stages of disease progression are mentioned below in the order of disease severity.
- Varicose veins
Varicose veins are the initial signs of venous problems. Those are twisted, purple-colored veins, engorged on the legs that usually occur on the legs. Generally located very close to the surface of the skin.
- Cramping, pain, and leg swelling
As varicose veins progress and get worse, people start experiencing leg pain, cramps, and leg heaviness. As blood pooling continues in the legs swelling starts to develop.
If left untreated, Varicose veins can take a toll on your active lifestyle. Accumulation of fluid in the tissues can affect the lymphatic system. As leg swells, pressure starts building up in the vessels causing it to eventually burst.
- Leathery, Discolored skin
Skin discoloration and severe pain occurs as the tissues get damaged or inflamed. You may observe that the skin in your lower leg has turned thick, reddish- brown, or/ and leathery.
- Venous ulcers
The tissue damage eventually turns into non – healing wounds known as ulcers. Such ulcers often get infected, and the infection can spread to various parts of the body including the tissues, bones, and joints. They typically occur around your ankle and need intensive wound care to heal.
Without treatment, venous ulcers expand and cause dangerous skin and bone infections.
Ischemia is a critical condition which occurs when tissues die due to lack of oxygen owing to improper blood circulation. Gangrene may develop, blisters form, patches of dark skin develop, associated with pain, and a foul-smelling discharge. At this advanced stage, many patients end up needing an amputation.
Hence, it is essential that you do not ignore any leg pain, or any ulcers that develop. Getting them diagnosed and availing proper treatment will ensure that you are protecting your health and helping in preventing amputation.
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