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In this Your Healthy Family, as summer is here and people are getting more active some aches and pains in our legs might be normal, but if those leg pains persist you may have something going on with your veins that is generally very treatable.
Dr. Gordon Gibbs, MD is the Chief Medical Executive and Chief Executive Officer of the American Vein and Vascular Institute with locations across Colorado.
Dr. Gibbs is a Mayo Clinic-trained, board-certified diagnostic radiologist and vascular interventional radiologist, and says he loves what he does. “It's a really gratifying field of medicine to be a part of. I really enjoy treating people's veins because of the fact we see so many positive outcomes. When somebody comes in and they have discomfort, aching, heaviness, restless legs, cramping at night and they can't sleep it's really gratifying to be able to help them because it really can make a big difference in their quality of life.”
Dr. Gibbs says many people suffer from the early stages of vein issues in their legs, without even knowing the root of the problem.
“Venous insufficiency is one of the things that we treat at American Vein and Vascular and it’s a very common problem. Probably 20% or 30% of the adult population has venous insufficiency. There are small valves on the inside of normal healthy veins and when they're functioning properly they keep the blood flowing in one direction, from your fee back to your heart. It's pretty common for those valves to become leaky, and when they do basically gravity will pull the blood down towards your feet and it puts the veins under higher pressure. It’s that pressure (in the veins) that can cause pain, discomfort, and heaviness, more so towards the end of the day. It can also cause varicose veins and swelling. Things that are more uncommon people commonly don’t recognize are related to their veins are nighttime symptoms of restless legs and cramping.”
Ultrasound is key to diagnosing if someone’s symptoms are being caused by issues in their veins. Dr. Gibbs explains, “Ultrasound is very important for establishing what's going on with somebody's circulation. With ultrasound we can not only see where the veins are located, but we can see how they're behaving. You can see the dynamics of blood flow, and how it flows through the vessel. In so doing, we can identify which veins are normal and healthy and should be left alone and which veins are potentially causing or contributing to somebody’s symptoms. We use ultrasound on just about every patient who comes through the door, it really helps us establish a customized treatment plan for that patient so we can use the best tools that we have to specifically treat what's going on in that person's legs.”
Often that treatment plan begins with conservative therapies such as compression socks, leg elevation and exercise, and when those options are not effective or preferred Dr. Gibbs says there are other options. “When conservative therapy doesn’t relieve somebody's symptoms or provide a good avenue for long-term relief we can talk about other things we can do. Some people just don’t want a lifetime prescription for compression socks. There are lots of minimally invasive procedures we have that are much more sophisticated than they used to be. Vein stripping from the 1970s and 80s is something we don’t even consider anymore and we expect people to get a good outcome from their care. We have a variety of procedures that involve simple injections of a solution into the vessels. We can do perform a minor procedure called an ablation, where we can guide a catheter on the inside of a vessel and seal it closed to divert the blood flow away from abnormal veins into normal healthy ones.
If you are suffering from venous disease, addressing those nagging symptoms doesn’t require much in terms of your investment of time, or even pain versus the amount of relief you can see.
Dr. Gibbs says, “In terms of discomfort our procedures are similar to going to the dentist. There's a couple of pokes that can make things a little bit uncomfortable for some patients however, some people we treat feel no pain whatsoever.”
Dr. Gibbs opened his first clinic in Pueblo in 2009, and now American Vein and Vascular continues to grow across Colorado and has more certified vein specialists than any other practice in the region to meet the needs of a growing population. “We've grown quite a bit in the last year. Our clinics in Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Canon city are more robust. We have also seen additional growth up north in the Denver Metro area. We're opening a new clinic where we're specializing in treating peripheral arterial disease on the north side of Denver in Thornton where we can not only treat people with common vein problems but also treat people who have discomfort in their legs related to lack of circulation, meaning lack of arterial blood flow going down to their legs.”
If you have any questions about problems in your legs you think might be related to your blood vessels or from the circulation in your legs Dr. Gibbs says feel free to contact his team at American Vein and Vascular. “They can call us directly at 719-543-8346. They don't necessarily need a referral for most insurance. We do accept all insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare, and all commercial insurance as well. If we do need a referral from their primary care provider. We can tell them that ahead of time and loop their primary care provider into the conversation.
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