Phlebitis is a common and unpleasant complication of varicose veins. Usually, the problem requires intervention, but occasionally if it is treated promptly with good and effective compression, the vein heals and disperses. Today I met Paula Quantock from Yeovil in Somerset and it seems that she is one of the few lucky people for whom this painful complication appears to have had a happy outcome.
“I first noticed the veins in my left leg during my second pregnancy 15 years ago. Since then, they have gradually got worse and I didn’t like the look of them. They hadn’t caused me any trouble until recently when they became red, hot and very tender. I couldn’t turn over in bed at night without pain and I couldn’t bear any pressure on them. I got a pair Sigvaris stockings from the VeinCare Centre at the Melbury Clinic and I used them straight away. They eased the pain as soon as I put them on and within a week my veins felt so much better. Now, the veins seem to have gone, but I didn’t want anything like this to happen again, so I decided I would get them sorted out and I went to see Dr Gajraj. He scanned my legs and said that I had had a very severe phlebitis, but because I had used Sigvaris stockings so quickly, the veins looked like they were healing and dispersing and that they probably wouldn’t need any treatment. When the veins seemed to go after wearing the stockings, I thought it was my imagination. I am so pleased. I was prepared to pay for my veins to be done privately, but now I think I may be able to spend the money on a holiday instead!”
Dr Haroun Gajraj
“Phlebitis is an inflammation of the veins which usually flares up out of the blue without warning but sometimes it can be sparked off by a knock or injury. It can be very painful indeed and can last for several weeks. The initial treatment is anti-inflammation medication such as Voltarol or Ibuprofen, but most importantly, the veins should be supported by a good quality medical grade compression stocking. The healing process will be aided by the stocking and the leg will feel much more comfortable. Once the inflammation settles, the varicose veins and the reflux causing them should be treated as the phlebitis is likely to recur.
Once in a while, I meet someone like Paula in whom the phlebitis has been so severe that when it is treated early with good compression, the vein is obliterated by the healing process and in a sense, the vein cures itself. The bulging veins disappear and the problem never comes back. It is still early days for Paula and I plan to see her again in 6 months and recheck her leg with an ultrasound scan but I am optimistic she will not need anything more than her Sigvaris stockings.
By the way, medical grade compression hosiery should not to be confused with tubigrip or support tights. Medical socks or stockings give a certain amount of “squeeze” at the ankle and progressively less up the calf and thigh – they are graduated. In this way the compression works with the vein circulation. In addition, it is very important that the leg is carefully measured by a trained healthcare professional to ensure the correct compression is prescribed. There are many good stockings available and Sigvaris is one of my favourites but other brands of good hosiery are available and a very good website is Daylong
If you are unfortunate to suffer from phlebitis, make sure you get good quality medical graduated compression socks or stockings as soon as possible. I will talk about the many benefits of medical hosiery in future posts on this blog.”