What is vein disease?
Healthy veins have valves which open and close to assist the return of blood to the heart. Venous disease occurs if these valves become damaged, allowing the backward flow of blood in the legs. When blood cannot be properly returned through the vein, it can pool in the legs, leading to a feeling of heaviness and fatigue—causing varicose veins and other skin changes. Approximately 20 to 30 million people in the United States suffer from venous disorders. While usually not life-threatening, venous disorders still affect your circulatory system and can lead to more serious complications, such as ulcers, blood clots and/or stroke if left untreated.
Causes of vein disease?
Most vein disease has a strong genetic link, however, the more time we spend sedentary or standing on our feet, the more we increase the likelihood that our veins will have difficulty returning the blood. The most common factors are:
- body weight
- sedentary lifestyle
Women are about two times more likely to suffer from varicose veins than men. Pregnancy and hormonal changes can increase susceptibility to varicose veins.
Signs & symptoms of varicose veins
Varicose veins do not always cause pain, and therefore, can go unnoticed. Signs you may have varicose veins include:
- Tired, achy, painful legs
- Tenderness around the varicose vein
- Numbness, swelling, burning, or heaviness in the legs
- Itching or irritated rash on the legs or near the ankles
- Veins that are dark purple or blue in color and appear twisted and bulging
Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but are usually fine and superficial. Spider veins are found closer to the skin’s surface and are often red or blue.
There are many minimally-invasive options to treat your venous conditions—with a short recovery and quick return to everyday activities. While spider veins and early varicose veins may simply seem like unsightly medical conditions, if untreated, they can become problematic. With any under-functioning veins or underlying venous condition, the pressure created by back flow of blood and pooling in the lower legs can lead to a progressive condition that will only worsen with time, resulting in swelling, pain and venous ulcers. Self-care—such as exercise, elevating your legs or wearing compression stockings—can help ease the pain of varicose veins and may prevent them from getting worse. However, if you are concerned about how your veins look and feel, you should know there are virtually pain-free treatments available. Walk in, walk out.