The Lymphatic System
General Advice
Venous Oedema
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What is Venous Oedema?

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a common chronic condition, particularly in those of advancing years. It is characterised by lower leg oedema, heaviness, tightness, aching and discomfort, all of which are relieved, to some extent, by elevation. This oedema is called venous oedema.

One way valves situated every few millimetres in the veins assist the heart to pump blood back to the heart. With increasing age and other factors such as being overweight, chronic heart failure, hypertension, pregnancy, deep vein thrombosis or an excessive amount of standing, an additional strain is placed on the leg veins by the resultant high gravitational forces causing them to dilate. This, in turn, makes the valves less effective in the process of returning blood to the heart by allowing backflow of blood to occur and collection or "pooling" of blood in the calves. The valves become non-functional and the veins misshapen. These are termed varicose veins. They cause stagnation of blood in the calves and an increased amount of fluid to pass from the blood capillaries into the tissues and the onset of oedema. As the condition progresses, the lymphatic drainage from the legs becomes overloaded and the condition of the skin deteriorates. It becomes pigmented, dry, fragile, easily breaking down and becoming infected, leading to ulceration.

What is the Treatment of Venous Oedema?

Vascular surgery does not always provide long term relief for CVI. However, compression therapy has been shown to be effective in improving venous and lymphatic drainage from lower limbs, as well as keeping oedema under control.

Mild to moderate oedema is treated by fitting low to medium compression calf stockings.

Moderate to severe oedema require multi-layer bandaging for a few days to reduce the oedema before fitting stockings.

Adelaide Lymphoedema Clinic
29 Warwick St Walkerville SA 5081
T: 08 8342 9712
F: 08 8342 9711