Half of the adult population has some form of venous disease. Leg elevation is an essential part of the treatment for all venous disorders. The most common venous disorders are: varicose veins, chronic venous insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis, and phlebitis.
Varicose Veins are large dilated, superficial veins that can be painful. 20-30% of the adult population has varicose veins. Leg elevation relieves the pressure in the veins and alleviates the pain and swelling associated with venous engorgement. Leg elevation is also used after varicose vein surgery or laser ablation of the saphenous vein.
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) affects 40% of the adult population. With this condition the vein valves don't work properly. For this reason, venous blood flow becomes stagnant and venous pressure increases. Red blood cells are squeezed out of the capillary into the surrounding tissue. Milder forms of CVI are associated with brownish discoloration of our skin. More sever forms result in thick scarred skin and venous ulcers. Leg elevation is used to treat the leg swelling and ulcers associated with chronic venous insufficiency. This is a chronic problem and patients with CVI need to make daily leg elevation a part of their lifestyle.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in the larger, deep veins. More than 500,000 hospitalized patients develop DVT each year. Leg elevation is part of the standard treatment for deep vein thrombosis and is also used to prevent deep vein thrombosis because it increases venous flow and prevents venous stasis or stagnant venous flow. Leg elevation also reduces the elevated venous pressure associated with a DVT and reduces swelling. Both elevated venous pressure and swelling are what cause the aching pain associated with a DVT.
Phlebitis is inflammation around a clotted superficial vein. This is treated with leg elevation, warm compresses, and ibuprofen. Leg elevation reduces the swelling and pain associated with phlebitis.
Visit the Leg Elevation Classroom to learn why leg elevation lowers venous pressure and improves venous blood flow.