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Venous Stasis

Disease Process

A combination of slowing of blood flow through the leg veins on its return to the heart and defective valves in the leg veins that cannot close tightly leads to blood pooling in the legs. This pooling of blood creates the swelling seen in people with venous stasis.



  • Swelling in the legs (edema).
  • Varicose Veins.
  • A feeling of fullness, aching or tiredness (worse with standing, relieved with elevation).
  • With prolonged swelling/pooling, the skin can become discolored due to staining from red blood cells (venous stasis dermatitis).
  • With prolonged swelling/pooling, open sores or wounds can form due to a loss in the skin’s elasticity.
  • Can become infected leading to dermatitis.


  • Medical History
  • Physical Examination
  • Ultrasound Scan (looks at the blood flow through the veins and arteries)
  • Venogram (an x-ray of the veins)

Current Treatment

Treatment of venous stasis consists of one or more of the following:

  • Elevation of the legs (ABOVE the level of the heart). Compression stockings.
  • Surgical removal of the veins.
  • Wound care.

How Can Physical Therapy Help

A physical therapist can:

  • Measure you for compression stockings to help return blood to the heart from the legs.
  • Apply a special “compression” pump that uses a sleeve placed on the swollen leg to help push the blood back up to the heart.
  • Provide wound care if the venous stasis has caused any open wounds.

Patient Resources

Pressure Ulcers: MedlinePlus
Stasis Dermatitis and Ulcers: MedlinePlus
Venous Insufficiency: MedlinePlus

Disease Process
Physical Therapy
Patient Resources

Megan Hubbard, DPT © 2005   |  disclaimer