Here’s how to fix your tired, achy legs

Millions are living with undiagnosed vein disease. Are you one of them?

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PHOENIX (Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center) – You wouldn’t take your car to an accountant for an oil change, right? And you would not hire a mechanic to do your taxes.

Q: Why would you go to a dentist for vein and vascular treatment?

A: You wouldn’t. At least you shouldn’t.

No matter the job or service, you want the right person with the proper expertise and board certification.

It’s relatively common for some medical professionals, including dentists, to branch out into potentially lucrative sidelines like aesthetic procedures. There are med-spas all over the country that advertise spider vein removal and treatment for varicose veins. It’s important to understand that these cosmetic procedures are usually done by somebody whose training is far less extensive than a doctor or nurse practitioner who has taken the time and put in the work to earn board certification. In many cases, cosmetic procedures are merely a bandage. They might temporarily fix the visible symptoms of vein disease, but they don’t address the underlying medical issue.

A board-certified surgeon is what you want - what you need - when it comes to vein and vascular treatments. You cannot overstate the importance of certification; it’s essential.

“Board certification means that physicians have chosen to go even further by obtaining additional education in a given specialty and demonstrating their knowledge. Board certification signifies the highest level of accreditation within a given specialty,” Rochelle York of Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center explained.

Dr. Baljeet Uppal is the director of Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center and is certified as a vascular surgeon by the American Board of Surgery. With two surgical residencies and two specialized fellowships under his belt, he was an attending surgeon at a New York hospital and a clinical instructor in the department of surgery at SUNY Upstate Medical University, also in New York. He’s got the bonafides.

Dr. Baljeet Uppal is the director of Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center and is certified as a...
Dr. Baljeet Uppal is the director of Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center and is certified as a vascular surgeon by the American Board of Surgery.

Dr. Michael Kralik, a board-certified cardiovascular surgeon, and board-certified nurse practitioner Kristina Huebner round out your team at Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center.

When do I need to call Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center?

Common symptoms for our patients include numbness, tingling, restless leg, and [general leg discomfort],” York said. “Ropey veins – veins that are lifted off of your legs – even spider veins … could be your body telling you something and trying to get your attention, letting you know that there’s something going on underneath.”

That something - the root cause of your problem - is what Dr. Uppal and his team at Pinnacle treat.

“There is a lot of underdiagnosed and undertreated disease,” Dr. Uppal explained. “For example, chronic venous insufficiency is a very prevalent disease, but it’s very underdiagnosed. There are about 30 million people suffering from venous disease. Unfortunately, not all of them are diagnosed and treated accordingly.”

CVI is when the veins in your legs don’t let your blood flow back up to your heart. It can be painful, even debilitating.

Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center
In normal veins, valves ensure that your blood flows back up to your heart. With vein disease, those valves do not open and close properly, allowing blood to flow back down and pool in your leg.(Image source: 123RF)

Dr. Uppal said two of the most common symptoms of CVI are pain in your leg and “bulgy” varicose veins. Another common symptom is something many people dismiss – that pins-and-needles feeling. Swelling in your legs and ankles and darker areas on your leg also might indicate a potential problem.

“As the disease progresses, the symptoms will progress,” Dr. Uppal said. And so will the pain. “These symptoms are real, and they need to be looked at. Patients don’t need to suffer.”

Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center’s three locations have everything you need to get a diagnosis and find your path forward.

“We are a full-service vascular practice,” Dr. Uppal said.

“We have our own vascular lab in-house,” York elaborated. “We have our own ultrasound techs, our own ultrasound machines, our own ABI treadmill machines. Everything is in-house, a one-stop shop.”

The doctor will go over your results with you, show you your images, and explain what’s happening inside your body to cause what you see on the outside, or maybe feeling on the inside. Together you can decide on a treatment to fix any blood-flow problem. Fix the problem, not just the symptoms.

“A lot of offices treat these things cosmetically, not getting down to the root cause,” York explained. “You can treat it cosmetically on the surface and clean up those spider veins. But in about a month or two, they’re going to come right back and that pain will not be gone.”

Dr. Uppal can also do some of the more in-depth procedures like angiograms and stenting right there in Pinnacle Vein & Vascular Center’s office-based lab (OBL).

Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center
(Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center)

How soon will I feel better?

“You should feel immediate relief in most cases,” York said.

After the procedure, you’ll want to follow the doctor’s instructions to wear compression stockings or bandages, drink plenty of water, and elevate your legs. The Pinnacle Vein and Vascular team did their job. You have to do yours.

Vein disease doesn’t discriminate.

You might think vein disease is a “mature person’s problem.” That’s true. To an extent.

York said Pinnacle’s average patient is older than 60, has a sedentary lifestyle, perhaps has diabetes, and might be overweight.

Then there’s the other side of the coin.

“We have patients that are very active. Whether they’re teachers, whether they’re bank tellers – they stand at their job,” York explained. “They’re having issues with their legs feeling tired or restless because they stand all day in their job.”

Like most diseases, vein and vascular disease does not discriminate.

“It touches everyone in some way, shape, or form,” York said.

Patient-centered treatment puts “care” back into health care.

“Every single patient is completely different,” York said. That means one size does not fit all when it comes to treatment.

“We want to understand their whole body – what’s going on and what they’ve had done,” York said. Before you ever step foot in the exam room, the Pinnacle team has looked at your medical records and initial paperwork so the Board-Certified Providers know what questions to ask.

“We like to do our research before [we see a new patient],” York said. If the team sees something that indicates your issue is not vascular, they won’t waste your time with an appointment that won’t help you. They’ll make sure you know whom you should see for the treatment you need.

“We really want to dive in deep and help [patients] because it’s pointless for them to come in and we can’t treat them,” York said. [We] take care of the patient well before they even come in and see if there’s something else that they need other than a vascular consult.”

Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center
Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center(Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center)

How soon can I get in?

In most cases, York says you can see a Board-Certified Pinnacle provider within about three business days depending on the reason for the visit. That’s almost unheard of with specialty practices. Most schedule at least two to three weeks out, and some have no availability for months. That’s an eternity when you’re in pain.

Do you need a second opinion?

Second opinions are always a good idea, and Pinnacle Vein and Vascular Center specializes in that, as well as transfer care. The process is simple, with the Pinnacle team doing the heavy lifting.

“We just obtain your medical records from your former practice, and then we continue care to our practice,” York explained.

All you have to do is ask.

“If you are in doubt or you would just feel more comfortable with a second opinion, call us,” York said.