HEALTH – Healthy legs support a healthy body by Professor Mark Whiteley MS FRCS (Gen) FCPhleb

Mark Whiteley Whiteley Clinic

Professor Mark Whiteley MS FRCS (Gen) FCPhleb of The Whiteley Clinic

Article from FOCUS Magazine – Summer 13 issue.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us that our legs are essential for good health. The ability to walk is vital not only to get to places but also to keep fit and to keep all of the other processes and systems in the body working well. In hospitals, we often see people admitted with a multitude of problems that stem from a reduction in mobility often due to problems with the legs.

Keeping good leg health means making sure that the skin, muscles, bones, nerves and circulation are all working normally. Surprisingly, the commonest problems with legs all come from veins that do not work properly. Unfortunately, people in the past have ignored venous disease to a large extent, having listened to generations of doctors who have declared that “varicose veins are just cosmetic”. Although years of research have shown this not to be the case, it is proving very hard to change this view as it has been embedded in the population over so many generations.

Although many people think varicose veins are just the lumpy veins that can be seen on the surface, ‘hidden varicose veins’ or venous reflux disease causes a plethora of other problems that most people do not realise come from the venous system not working properly.

Venous problems of the legs cause:

• aching and tired legs

• swollen ankles

• itching of the skin particularly around the ankles

• red or brown patches around the ankles

• clots in the veins that can be very painful causing red lumps (thrombophlebitis) or even deep vein thrombosis

• bleeding from veins in the legs

• leg ulcers

It is estimated that although about 15 to 20 per cent of the adult population can see they have varicose veins, another 15 to 20 per cent of the population have these problems but cannot see any sign of varicose veins on the surface. In these patients, only a specialised duplex ultrasound scan will be able to diagnose the problem and enable the correct treatment to be planned.

It has now been shown that, no matter how experienced a doctor or nurse may be, it is impossible to tell what is going on in the venous system of the legs without this test. As such, no doctor, nurse or anyone else should ever try to reassure someone that their legs are healthy, unless they have a venous duplex ultrasound scan showing that the veins are indeed working properly.

If you are concerned about your leg health, try the free screening on www.veinsscreening.co.uk or contact The Whiteley Clinic to arrange to see one of their venous experts and have a venous duplex ultrasound scan.

The Whiteley Clinic, 1 Stirling House, Stirling Road, Guildford, GU2 7RF.
T: 01483 477 180
W: www.thewhiteleyclinic.co.uk