Skip to Content

NorthShore’s online source for timely health and wellness news, inspiring patient stories and tips to lead a healthy life.

Healthy You

Reining in Vein Pain

Tuesday, November 20, 2018 7:29 AM

Recently retired from a rewarding career as a clinical social worker, Patricia Kelley is not one to sit still. The 65-year-old from Lake Forest uses her new-found freedom to do more of what she loves: spending time with family and friends, and gardening. She is even learning the basics of golf. But instead of seeing green, Kelley was seeing red due to chronic inflammation in her legs.


“I hadn’t felt well for a while, and seemed to be tired all the time,” recalled Kelley. “I had frequent pain and cramping in my legs and feet, and my ankles were swollen.”

More than a Cosmetic Concern
Aching for relief, Kelley made an appointment with her NorthShore Primary Care Physician Julia Ratner, MD, who after a thorough physical, suspected the pain may be due to varicose veins. The condition affects some 40 million Americans and occurs when weak or damaged valves in veins disrupt normal blood flow. Beyond the pain, the condition also can lead to blood clots and other serious conditions.

Dr. Ratner recommended Kelley see Vascular Surgeon Nancy Schindler, MD, who specializes in treating vein diseases and leg pain at NorthShore Cardiovascular Institute.

“A diagnostic ultrasound confirmed Pat had what we call ‘reflux’ in her leg veins—or varicose veins—and that was causing her chronic pain,” explained Dr. Schindler, the E. Stephen Kurtides Chair of Medical Education. “She was a perfect candidate for a new treatment option called VenaSeal™, which we now offer at NorthShore.”

Leading-Edge Treatment
Recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, VenaSeal is a minimally invasive procedure that permanently treats varicose veins located close to the surface of the skin. “Unlike previous treatment options, VenaSeal involves fewer injections along the length of the leg and is less painful,” explained Dr. Schindler, who holds an academic appointment at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

During the outpatient procedure, Dr. Schindler inserts a catheter through the skin and injects a small amount of medical glue to seal off the abnormal vein, restoring normal blood flow. “In Pat’s case, we were able to perform the VenaSeal procedure on both legs during the same appointment, which isn’t always possible with other treatment options,” added Dr. Schindler.

“It was unbelievable how much better I felt right away,” exclaimed Kelley. “Now my pain is gone and my energy level is back to normal. I’m so grateful to my NorthShore physicians who were so reassuring. I just can’t say enough good things about them!”