Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to properly elevate your legs

There are a variety of vein treatments for varicose veins and other venous diseases. Board certified vein specialist Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen supports the minimum intervention that will meet each patient's goals for treatment. In some cases, elevation of the legs can alleviate the pain or swelling that is the result of early stage vein disease.

Leg elevation means raising the legs above heart level. The ideal position is to lie on a couch with the back on the cushions and feet up on the armrest, so feet are at a slight angle higher than the heart. Lying down with the legs resting on three or four pillows also works well.

Here are more tips on how to get the most out of this accessible therapy:

• Elevating at intervals throughout the day can encourage blood flow from the legs and decrease the pooling of blood.
• Legs should be elevated as often as possible, for as long as 30 minutes or as briefly as three minutes.
• The morning is a good time to elevate.
• The best time to elevate is after a hot shower, or after standing for a long time. 
• A good way to remember to elevate is to pair it with your meals or snacks.

Elevation is a simple, yet powerful, tool that can help improve blood circulation in the veins and provide some relief to venous symptoms. Dr. Asbjornsen believes that elevation is so important for someone with venous disease that at the Vein Healthcare Center recliners and ottomans are provided in the reception area, so that patients can elevate while they wait.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tips for swelling legs

Swelling of the feet, ankles or legs is a common problem that affects men and women alike. Edema, as it is known in the medical community, is swelling due to a buildup of extra fluid.

According to Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen of the Vein Healthcare Center in Maine, there are many possible causes for edema, including venous insufficiency. She said that the treatment of leg edema depends upon a proper diagnosis of the cause— and that if the swelling is caused by venous insufficiency, there are treatments available.

Those who experience leg swelling should visit his or her primary care physician or specialist to determine the cause. A variety of tests will likely be checked, possibly including a venous ultrasound test to look for faulty valves in the leg veins.

If leg swelling is due to venous insufficiency, here are some things to consider:
   • Elevate your legs above your heart periodically throughout the day, especially after you have been standing for a long time.
   • Wear graduated compression stockings to help promote the flow of blood back up to the heart. They are available at many pharmacies and medical supply stores.
   • Protect the skin over the swollen area from cuts, scrapes or extreme temperatures. The skin becomes more fragile over time and any injuries can take much longer heal.
   • Contact a board certified phlebologist for an evaluation. Minimally invasive office procedures, such as endovenous laser ablation, can fix the underlying problem of venous insufficiency.

Chronic swelling also puts people at risk for cellulitis, a potentially serious bacterial infection that can affect the skin’s surface and its underlying tissue and cause the skin to become swollen and tender. Those with venous symptoms can also be at increased risk for superficial thrombophlebitis, which are clots within the superficial veins that can be extremely painful.

In our next post, we’ll introduce a condition called lymphedema— and what happens when the venous system becomes involved.