JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It's estimated that thousands of Americans suffer with vein problems, known as venous insufficiency. The circulation issues can lead to pain and swelling, and may worsen over time and even become life threatening. That's why getting screened for vein diseases is so important.
Many people are alerted to their vein problems because they're visible, as in varicose or spider veins. But you can also have problems with your veins without any visible signs. As part of National Venous Screening Month, an upcoming free ultrasound screening in Ocean Springs could help you get the treatment you need.
Henry Thompson knows how beneficial those screenings can be. Thompson is a retired Pascagoula police officer who likes to stay active. The 79-year-old had two knee replacements to help him get around, but he developed an unrelated problem in recent months that caused so much pain in his legs it kept him from sleeping.
"My legs were hurting at night," Thompson remembered. "I'd wake up at three in the morning and couldn't go back to sleep it hurt so bad."
He had no visible signs of any cause for the pain; his legs looked fine. But a visit with Cardio vascular and thoracic surgeon Dr. Hazem Barmada got him on the right track. Dr. Barmada specializes in vein care at the Spring of Youth vein and laser center in Ocean Springs. After hearing about Thompson's symptoms, Dr. Barmada conducted an ultrasound screening and found that Thompson had a severe case of venous insufficiency.
"The pain comes from the stretching of the vein and from the tissues getting enflamed. And one complication of that is clotting, which can be serious."
With any type of under functioning veins, the pressure created by the back flow of blood and pooling in the lower legs can lead to a progressive condition that Dr. Barmada says will only worsen over time.
"Apart from the symptoms affecting your lifestyle, it gets worse with time and never stops unless you take measures and get treatment to stop it."
But a simple outpatient laser treatment had Thompson back on his feet in no time.
"There's no down time. The patient can go right back to work."
He said the laser treatment takes about 45 minutes.
"The newer methods of laser and other vein treatments actually make the vein shrivel up, so the vein closes and stays where it is and over the years is transformed into fibrous tissue."
Now, Thompson can sleep without the severe pain that was keeping him from getting a good night's rest.
"I don't hurt now. I sleep without pain every night," Thompson said. "Dr. Barmada got rid of it; that's for sure."
Dr. Barmada said vein treatment options have improved dramatically in recent years and a simple ultrasound screening could end up making make a big difference in a person's life.
"If people have aches and pains in their legs, particularly in the latter part of the day or night, it's important for them to be screened."
He said in addition to pain symptoms, it's a good idea to get screened if you have varicose or spider veins, swelling, discoloration of the skin; especially around the ankles, or a family history of venous insufficiency.
Dr. Barmada will be offering free ultrasound screenings on September 15 and September 18. Those interested in signing up for the free test should call the Spring of Youth Vein and Laser Center at (228) 875-0885.