Varicose Veins


Besides the visual appearance, early symptoms of varicose veins include:

  • Pain in the legs with tiredness and heaviness in the lower legs
  • Swelling of the ankle and lower leg
  • Discolored, brownish skin near the ankle
  • Restless legs
  • Itchy, cramping on lower legs
  • Toe nail fungus

Two or more of the above symptoms at or near the same time may be a sign of varicose veins. A rash or skin ulceration on the ankle or lower leg may also be an indication of varicose veins.

Varicose veins are common and aren’t generally associated with more severe health problems. But they can be painful, unattractive and worsen over time. Varicose veins can cause legs and feet to swell, a sense of fatigue or restlessness in leg muscles, and throbbing and cramping at night. The skin surrounding the veins may also itch and burn. In severe cases, venous insufficiency may develop, causing irregular circulation. This can lead to problems like deep-vein thrombosis (a blood clot).

Patients with venous insufficiency often benefit from medical treatment. Left untreated, varicose veins can lead to swelling, increased pain, skin discoloration and ulcers. These ulcers are difficult to treat and can easily become infected and painful. When it comes to varicose veins, early diagnosis and treatment are key.

While the underlying cause of varicose veins is unknown, a
number of risk factors have been identified:

 

Heredity

Varicose veins tend to run in families. If your parents,
grandparents, aunts, uncles or other family members have had varicose
veins, it’s likely that you’ll develop them. A defect in the vein walls
or valves is the greatest contributing factor in 70% of cases.

Gender

Primarily due to the production of progesterone (one of the
major female hormones), females are more likely than men to get
varicose veins (by a ratio of 4:1).

Age

Varicose veins is a progressive condition that worsens in
frequency and severity with age. As we age, elastic fibers in our
bodily tissues break down, leading to wrinkles in the skin and
weakening of the blood vessels.

Obesity

Excess bodyweight increases the pressure on vein valves and
can lead to their weakening.

Hormones

Changes in hormone levels brought on by puberty, pregnancy,
menopause, hormone replacement therapy and contraceptives are risk
factors for varicose veins.

Pregnancy

Increased progesterone levels, blood volume in the body and
pressure on the pelvic veins all contribute to the formation of
varicose veins.

70%
of women develop venous (vein-related) problems during pregnancy. These
include: fluid retention; pain, heaviness or fatigue in the feet and
legs; mild edema (swelling in the feet and legs); and spider veins.

20%
of pregnant women develop full-blown varicose veins. Heredity is a
major factor, but hormonal changes and your baby’s increasing weight
place increasing stress on the veins in your legs.

50%
of new mothers suffer from vein-related conditions for the rest of
their lives, with 1 in 10 affected by varicose veins indefinately.
Untreated varicose veins can lead to chronic edema, phlebitis (vein
inflammation), thrombophlebitis (vein inflammation associated with a
blood clot) and blood clots.

Occupation

People whose jobs require them to stand or sit for long
periods of time are at greater risk of developing varicose veins. When
sitting or standing still, the valves in the veins in your legs are
under increased pressure, which eventually weakens them.