Tuesday, February 5, 2019

What is Pelvic Venous Congestion Syndrome?

Veins have one-way valves that help keep blood flowing toward the heart. If the valves are weak or damaged, blood can flow in the wrong direction in the veins in the legs and feet, often causing them to swell. When this happens near the pelvis, it is called pelvic venous congestion syndrome. Simply put, varicose can also develop internally, in the pelvis, uterus and ovaries. 

Those internal varicose veins can cause symptoms similar to those in the legs. Patients will often have visible varicose veins on their upper legs or labia, but not always. The main symptom is pelvic pain that lasts for six months or more. 

Patients with PVCS report a prolonged deep and dull ache, often associated with movement, posture, and activities that increase abdominal pressure. Like varicose veins in the leg, the achiness that increases with prolonged standing can often be relieved by lying flat or elevating the legs.

Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) occurs below the belly button in the pelvis. The pain may be unilateral or bilateral – meaning on one side of the pelvis or both – and is often more pronounced on one side than the other. The pain is chronic and appears to have no obvious source. Symptoms may also include rectal discomfort or increased urinary frequency, bloating or gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms.

According to some studies, more than 26% of women suffer from CPP, but data about its prevalence is incomplete. When taking into account the number of factors that could also cause chronic pelvic pain, one can see how misdiagnosis by medical professionals might occur. 

Conditions range from problems in the gastrointestinal tract to gynecologic diseases and urologic abnormalities. While some of these conditions are easily diagnosed, other causes of chronic pelvic pain are extremely difficult to recognize and have often been underdiagnosed or overlooked– even though studies show that PVCS occurs in up to 30 percent of patients who have chronic pelvic pain. 

Pelvic venous congestion syndrome, or PVCS, although easy to describe can be challenging to diagnose. In fact, PVCS is often misdiagnosed or never diagnosed at all. 

To learn more about PVCS and how it is diagnosed and treated, read the latest issue of Vein Health News. If you think your pelvic pain may be related to your venous health, feel free to contact us at the Vein Healthcare Center.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

One patient's perspective: coast-to-coast commute

One of Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen's patients is a 55-year-old nurse with quite a work commute. Beth lives in Ogunquit, Maine, but she works in California. 

Beth works for a national company that provides healthcare and rehabilitation in homes and hospitals. As a district director, she oversees the clinical operations for five long-term care facilities in the East Bay. She flies from Maine to California every Monday and then flies home on Friday. It takes all day to get from one coast to the other; when she’s at work, she’s on her feet for most of the day; and she’s had vein problems most of her life – a triple whammy in terms of venous health.

Like many people, Beth inherited “bad veins.” Her mother had varicose veins, and all but one of her six siblings have “pretty significant” varicose veins. Beth also has a 35-year-old son with extreme varicosities.

Over time she has experienced more and more problems with varicosities. After the birth of her second child, she had a vein stripping done and then another one in the mid 1990s. In addition, up until the last ten years, Beth has suffered from obesity. She believes that the extra weight combined with the venous insufficiency also caused edema in her legs that’s been difficult to keep in check.

“It feels like I’ve been managing this for more than 30 years,” said Beth. “And my legs are still a hot mess despite everything that’s been done to them.” 

Her occupation has exacerbated her issues, as she spends 10-12 hours on her feet during the week, paired with a commute that requires traveling for hours in a plane twice a week. Despite reducing her weight significantly and wearing compression socks daily, Beth was struggling again with achiness in her legs. By mid-afternoon the pain would be so great she’d have to “pop an ibuprofen” to get through the day.

After going to a board-certified phlebologist for an evaluation, Beth learned about the advances in vein care since the days of vein stripping – and the importance of locating, and treating, the “leaky” vein valve at the source.

After initial endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), Beth is no longer feeling any discomfort in her legs, however her ultrasound evaluation showed that “there was a lot of work to be done.” She has begun to wear full-length compression stockings on flights and at work, and she plans to finish her recommended treatment plan, which will include several sessions of sclerotherapy.

As Beth continues the process, she has this advice for people with similar problems: “The treatment modality is basically painless and simple. If you can get rid of the pain and edema – and the harm that the long-term edema causes – you’d be a fool not to do it.” 

To read more stories of real-life patient experiences, click here. If you're looking for relief from leg pain, varicose veins, or other venous issues, contact the Vein Healthcare Center to make an appointment for a thorough exam. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

New Year’s Resolutions Are Good…For Your Veins!

“This is the year I take better care of myself.” 

Sound familiar? Every new year people resolve to quit smoking, exercise, visit the doctor, and commit to living a healthier lifestyle. There are a multitude of reasons why these are excellent resolutions, but consider one more: veins. 

Vein disease affects millions of people. It occurs when valves in the veins of the legs can’t efficiently pump blood back up to the heart. Vein disease can cause pain, swelling, varicose veins, or worse. It’s also chronic and progressive, and if left untreated, can lead to serious medical complications. 

“Venous disease is one of the most common health conditions among Americans,” said Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen, Board-certified vein specialist at the Vein Healthcare Center, “but most people don’t realize that it may affect them, or that there are modern, minimally invasive treatments available.” 

Here are three things that people can do to improve— or prevent— vein problems in the new year: 
1. Quit smoking. Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke affects veins, arteries and the entire circulatory system. It can make venous symptoms, like leg aches and pains, even worse. 
2. Exercise. This can be as simple and effective as walking just 30 minutes a day. Walking causes the rhythmic contraction of calf muscles and helps promote blood flow to the heart.  
3. See your doctor. Ask your primary care physician about venous issues, especially if “bad veins” run in your family. Your doctor can refer you to a Board-certified phlebologist for a screening and evaluation.  
Contact the Vein Healthcare Center to schedule an evaluation appointment, or to find out more about vein health and treatment. 

Have a happy and healthy new year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Dos and don'ts for holiday healthy legs

Venous disease -- including spider veins, varicose veins, and leg ulcers -- does not stop for the holidays. But don't worry! We at the Vein Healthcare Center in Maine, have some tips to help you alleviate the symptoms of vein disease and prevent them from getting worse.

As you're out and about this holiday season, DO wear loose-fitting clothing. Santa’s red suit, for example, is roomy and comfortable and wouldn’t impede circulation in his lower body.

DO walk for at least thirty minutes a day-- like in a mall or large department store! The calf muscle contractions caused by walking can go a long way toward venous disease prevention and help keep the muscles of the lower legs healthy. And when you're out and on your feet, DO take a break every hour or so.

Now for a few DON'Ts. DON'T wear high-heeled shoes (or boots), as they shorten the muscles in your calf and prevent deep veins from working at their full capacity.

If you're taking any holiday trips long distances -- by plane, train, or automobile -- DON'T forget to wear compression stockings to keep the blood in your lower limbs moving in the right direction.

This last DON'T shouldn't surprise you: DON'T smoke. Smoking (even a corncob pipe) and exposure to second-hand smoke constricts veins and affects overall circulation.

Tips like these can help alleviate (or prevent) the symptoms of vein disease, but if you are experiencing symptoms, consider being screened by a Board-certified phlebologist like Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen. Contact us to schedule an evaluation appointment, or to find out more about vein health and treatment.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

New issue of Vein Health News

Earlier this month, we release the latest issue of Vein Health News and it's jam-packed with
information about venous health -- for healthcare providers and consumers alike.

In the cover story “Pelvic Venous Congestion Syndrome: Finding Answers for Pelvic Pain,” we explain to readers what it is, who is likely to get it, and how to diagnose and treat it. The causes of pelvic pain can be elusive, so we do our best to discuss PVCS frankly and factually. And if you’re wondering if men can get PVCS, the answer is: yes, men can experience a similar condition.

In the same issue, we examine how primary care physicians and other medical professionals can help patients with, or are at risk for, vein disease. 

Click here to read more. If you would like more information about vein health, give us a ring or drop us a line at the Vein Healthcare Center.

You can call 207-221-7799 (Monday through Friday during regular business hours), or send us an email at info@veinhealthcare.com.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Giving thanks

'Tis the season to give thanks for all of our wonderful patients who trust us to give them the highest level of care possible.

We also appreciate the patients that take the time to appreciate us! Like Shaye R. in Portland, Maine. Here's what Shaye said:
“It is hard to express the level of appreciation that I have for the treatment and care that Dr. Asbjornsen and the staff at the Vein Healthcare Center provided me."
To read more endorsements from satisfied Vein Healthcare Center patients, click here.

Do you wonder if your quality of life could be improved by vein care by a Board-certified specialist? Making an appointment for an evaluation is the next step. Let us help give you more reasons to give thanks!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Spider Veins Don’t Have to be Scary!

Telangiectasia is the technical term, but most people know them as “spider veins.” The red, blue or purple veins that occur just under the surface of the skin may appear as short fine lines, clusters, or in a spider web shape.

According to Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen, spider veins can be an indication of early stage vein disease— the “tip of the iceberg,” if you will. Vein health is a continuum, so while spider veins may appear minimal, there could be a larger vein “leaking” underneath.

Here are some tips for coping with spider veins:
  • Elevate your legs above your heart as often as possible— for as long as 30 minutes or as briefly as three minutes. The ideal time is after you have been standing for a long period or after a hot shower.
  • Sit properly. Focus on good posture and avoid crossing your legs, or sitting in ways that can compress veins for prolonged periods.
  • Walk. Walking causes the rhythmic contraction of calf muscles and helps promote blood flow to the heart. Just 30 minutes every day— all at once, or in shorter increments.
  • Contact a board certified phlebologist for an evaluation. In the past, treatment for spider veins has been considered merely cosmetic, but spider veins are symptoms of early stage vein disease and left untreated can lead to increased symptoms.

Sclerotherapy is frequently used to treat spider veins and smaller veins. In this procedure, tiny needles inject a medicine called a sclerosing agent into the vein's interior wall. This substance causes the vein to become sticky and seal shut, causing the troublesome vein to disappear. Blood then finds a healthy path back to the heart.

With modern sclerosants, there is little risk of complication, and patients often experience an immediate relief of symptoms. Most patients can return to their regular activities after the procedure is over.

Treating spider veins can improve appearance but more importantly, treatment can help stop the progression of venous disease at its source.

To find out more about spider veins, sclerotherapy, and vein treatments, contact us at the Vein Healthcare Center. We look forward to hearing from you!