Old Age and Vein Problems
as published in 4Health Magazine
President and leading specialist at the New York Vein Treatment Center, Dr. Lev Khitin is board certified in general and cardiothoracic surgery, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a member of the American College of Cardiovascular Surgery and a Fellow of the American College of Phlebology. Today, Dr. Khitin answers our readers’ questions.
I have recently noticed that walking at a leisurely pace has become difficult for me. My legs and feet feel heavy, even numb, and I tire easily. I feel better after a brief rest, especially if I sit down, but as soon as I resume walking, the problem comes back. All of the specialists that I have consulted blamed my age as the reason. I think there may be another explanation. Could you advise? (Mark S., Brooklyn)
‘Difficulty walking’ is how most people describe an increase in limitation of their ability to move around. Despite the common belief, the old age is never the cause of the problem. How old you are is not an explanation of your health problems. Decreased mobility is a result of abnormalities of circulation, such as the superficial venous insufficiency, a frequent cause in the problem described above.
Common complaints include difficulty walking or standing for a long period of time as well as heaviness, weakness and tiredness of lower extremities. Other common complaints include cramping at night, swelling of the ankles, tingling sensation, often referred to as ‘pins and needles,’ burning and numbness. As the condition progresses, the patients see an increase in swelling, which causes periodic flare-ups of infection. Complications may include thrombophlebitis, trophic ulcers and bleeding. Deposition of brown pigment is another sign of the condition. If you experience any of the symptoms above, please contact our clinic and we should be able to help.
My ankles swell excessively throughout the day. Early in the morning they seem OK, but as the day progresses, they swell so much that I need to go up a shoe size by the evening. Diuretics used to help a few years ago, but are useless now, regardless of the dose. Please help if you can. (Mary K., Queens)
Dear Mariya, you are absolutely right. Diuretics do not help, since the problem is not the excess of water in your body, but the abnormal distribution of that water between your lower extremities and the rest of the body. Diuretics, unable to recognize the main cause of the problem, simply attempt to rid the body of that water entirely. Fortunately, your kidneys do recognize the problem and stop the diuretics from taking effect. Had the diuretics worked, swelling would have gone down, but you would have become dehydrated, jeopardizing your kidney function as well as other organs. The cause of your symptoms is centered in a specific area of the body, your legs and feet, so the solution should focus on that area as well. Prior to recommending any treatment, I urge you to get an accurate diagnosis, as with any other health issues. Most likely, you do have circulatory problems of lower extremities. Our clinic could identify the cause of the problem and help in treating it.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to answer the questions of your readers.