Strike Force

Trauma is little-known cause of venous disease.

As a police officer in his native New Jersey, Bob Stubbins was involved in a high-speed chase in 1997 that ended in a serious accident. He received severe injuries that required several surgeries and caused him to take a medical retirement in 2002, when he moved to Florida.

“I ended up with lymphedema, or heavy swelling, in my legs after one of my surgeries,” Bob recalls. “The doctors had me using one of those compression pumps with the boots, which controlled the problem for quite a while. Then about a year ago, the pump stopped working, and my insurance company didn’t want to replace it.

Douglas H. Joyce, DO, at Joyce Vein & Aesthetic Institute in Punta Gorda, treated Bob Stubbins’ venous disease with single-needle laser ablation.

The procedures Dr. Joyce performed have Bob back on his feet.

“My legs started to swell terribly after that, especially my lower legs. My calves and ankles were the same size. It got to the point I could barely walk. There was a feeling like I was walking on needles. When I did walk, my bounce was strange. It felt like I had water in my boots while I walked in the mud.”

In addition to the swelling, Bob experienced several other uncomfortable symptoms. The combination made his doctor question if Bob’s problem might be something more than just lymphedema.

“I was having cramps in my legs,” Bob shares. “I originally had cramps from the accident, but they got worse. I also had pain. There were calluses on the bottoms of my feet in certain spots, and it felt like I was pushing pins in them every time I took a step.

“My foot doctor made special rubber insoles for my feet and cut out all the callus spots where the pressure points were. That way, I couldn’t put pressure on those spots and cause pain. When I still had pain in my legs, I had to do something else. My doctor recommended I visit Dr. Joyce.”

Dr. Joyce is Douglas H. Joyce, DO, of Joyce Vein & Aesthetic Institute in Punta Gorda. He is a skilled vein specialist who combines compassion and expertise to treat patients with venous disease. He is also a pioneer in treating all of the causes of venous disease of the leg.

After completing his evaluation of Bob’s legs,
Dr. Joyce determined that Bob’s symptoms were related to leaking veins in his legs, a form of venous disease.

“Our approach is to start with ultrasound mapping of the legs,” Dr. Joyce informs. “We identify any veins that are not working correctly and then use a procedure to divert the blood away from those veins. We close the leaking veins so that blood only runs through veins that are working properly, thus increasing the efficiency of the drainage in the legs.”

At Joyce Vein & Aesthetic Institute, Dr. Joyce uses advanced, minimally invasive treatments. He has even developed several treatment techniques, including single-needle laser ablation. This procedure is a noninvasive method of sealing the diseased veins responsible for advanced venous conditions. Dr. Joyce used this procedure to treat Bob’s legs.

“During the procedure, Dr. Joyce placed the laser inside my leg veins, and he had an ultrasound that showed it in my veins,” Bob describes. “He used the laser to close the veins and stop the leaks. On the screen, I could view the veins and see where they were leaking. It was amazing to see that and to watch Dr. Joyce on the monitor as he performed the treatment.

“Dr. Joyce explained everything so I understood exactly what was going on. He answered every one of my questions thoroughly. He showed me what he was doing and told me what to watch for as he did the procedure. I got a front-row seat for my surgery.”

The Pinhole in the Dike

There are many possible causes of venous disease of the legs, Dr. Joyce points out. These include having a family history of the disorder, being pregnant, having weakened leg muscles, and standing or sitting for lengthy periods of time.

“One of the little-known causes of venous disease is experiencing some form of trauma,” the doctor contends. “People can have a car accident or fracture their hips or a bone in their thighs or lower legs, and that can damage the blood vessels and disrupt venous blood flow.”

Typically, symptoms of venous disease from trauma don’t become apparent until years after the injury takes place. Dr. Joyce notes that most people suffering this condition, and even some physicians, fail to make the connection to an incident that occurred ten, 15 or 20 years previously. The reason for the delay, he says, is actually quite straightforward.

“Veins are pretty wonderful because they’re designed to reroute blood and repair themselves,” Dr. Joyce observes. “When a section of the venous system is disrupted by a trauma, the body will recruit other veins or form new veins to get around the disruption.

“Unfortunately, those repairs don’t last a lifetime. They have an expiration date. They’re functional but not permanent. Over time, those veins are subjected to blood flows they really weren’t designed to handle, and they start to fail. Then, people begin experiencing symptoms of venous disease.

“It’s like the old story about the pinhole in the dike. The problems affecting the veins  get bigger over the years.”

At the time of the initiating trauma, people might get a bruise or a goose egg on their leg. That’s due to bleeding under the skin, and that’s where the venous disruption occurs. Those are external, visible indicators of venous damage. However, internal indicators of venous damage are not always visible.

“That damage can’t be seen except with ultrasound or if the venous disease causes varicose veins to form in its later stages,” Dr. Joyce explains. “There may also be other, visible signs of venous disease such as swelling, discoloration and even ulcers on the skin.

“We use ultrasound to identify which veins are working well and which are not. After we do that, we perform the procedure to reroute the blood away from the veins that are not functioning correctly, using a laser to close them.

“Patients who undergo this procedure end up with fewer veins carrying blood, but the veins that are carrying blood are working correctly and are more efficient.”

Proud Patient

After Dr. Joyce performed the single-needle laser ablation and other procedures on Bob’s legs, his uncomfortable symptoms began to disappear. He’s very pleased with the results of his treatment at Joyce Vein & Aesthetic Institute.

“What a world of difference,” Bob raves. “I have a little bit of swelling in my feet, but my legs are a lot better now. My biggest problem before the procedures was with my walking. Now, I’m walking with no pain. I no longer have painful calluses on my feet. I’m proud of what Dr. Joyce did for me.

“The procedures Dr. Joyce performed on me were extremely successful,” he adds. “If I’d known about this treatment, I would have done it sooner. I definitely recommend Dr. Joyce and Joyce Vein and Aesthetic Institute to anyone experiencing the symptoms I had.”

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