Each time we stand or walk for long time, there is an increased pressure in our leg veins. With time, such increased pressure may cause veins to enlarge and gnarl and results in the development of varicose veins. While for some people this is just an aesthetic problem, others suffer from severe discomfort. Varicose veins symptoms include muscle crumps, aches in your legs, throbbing, etc. Varicose veins treatment options depends on the severity of symptoms and may involve conservative therapy (self-care, compression stockings), minimally invasive procedures (sclerotherapy) or surgery (phlebectomy) to remove the affected vein. We are going to review this condition, its` symptoms and treatment methods in more detail below.
Gnarled, enlarged veins are known as varicose veins. The most commonly affected veins are those in your legs and feet but any vein may become varicose. The reason is because standing and walking increases the pressure in the veins of your lower body.
Varicose veins and spider veins (common, mild variation of varicose veins) are simply a cosmetic concern for many people. For others, it’s a condition that can cause aching pain and discomfort. Varicose veins sometimes lead to more-serious problems.
It may signal a higher risk of other circulatory problems. Treatment may involve self-care measures or procedures by your doctor to close or remove veins.
Spider veins are similar to varicose veins but smaller. They’re are found closer to the skin’s surface and are often red or blue.
They often occur on the legs but can also be found on the face. They vary in size and often look like a spider’s web.
What causes Varicose Veins?
It occurs when your vein isn’t functioning properly. Veins have one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing backwards and when they fail to do so, blood begins to collect in the vein.
Some potential causes for varicose veins are:
- Chronic heart valve conditions (usually congenital)
- Standing for long periods of time
- Pressure on the midsection of the body (especially the abdomen)
- Obesity (adds weight to the body and increases the pressure on the legs)
VARICOSE VEINS SYMPTOMS
You may not experience any pain. The signs you may experience with varicose veins include:
- Dark purple or blue veins
- Twisted and bulging; looking veins (often like cords on your legs)
When painful signs and symptoms are experienced, you may experience:
- Achy or heavy feeling in your legs
- Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs
- Pain worsens after sitting or standing for a long time
- Itching around 1 or more of your veins
- Bleeding from varicose veins
- A painful cord in the vein with red discoloration of the skin
- Color changes (which can mean you have a serious form of vascular disease)
- Hardening of the vein (which can mean you have a serious form of vascular disease)
- Inflammation of the skin or skin ulcers near your ankle (which can mean you have a serious form of vascular disease)
VARICOSE VEINS TREATMENT OPTIONS
Treatment for varicose veins usually doesn’t mean a hospital stay or a long, uncomfortable recovery. Varicose veins can generally be treated using ess invasive procedures.
- Self-care: Exercising, losing weight, avoiding tight clothes, elevating your legs and avoiding long periods of standing or sitting time can ease the pain and prevent varicose veins from becoming worse.
- Compression stockings: Wearing compression stockings all day is often the first approach to try before moving to other treatments. They help veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently by squeezing your legs steadily. Compression varies depending on the type and brand.
Additional treatments for more-severe varicose veins
If self-care or compression stockings do not improve your condition or if your condition is more severe, these treatments may be recommended:
- Sclerotherapy: Small and medium-sized varicose veins are injected with a solution that scars and closes those veins. Treated varicose veins should fade in a few weeks. Even though the same vein may need to be injected more than once, this therapy is effective if done correctly. This procedure doesn’t require anesthesia and can be performed in your doctor’s office.
- Foam sclerotherapy of large veins: This is a newer technique. Large veins can be injected with a foam solution to close a vein and seal it.
- Laser surgeries: New technology in laser treatments are used to close off smaller varicose veins and spider veins. It works by sending strong bursts of light onto the vein that makes the vein slowly fade and disappear. Incisions or needles are not needed.
- Catheter-assisted procedures using radiofrequency or laser energy: This procedure is the preferred treatment for larger varicose veins. A thin tube (catheter) into an enlarged vein and the tip of the catheter is heated up using either radiofrequency or laser energy. The heat destroys the vein by causing it to collapse and seal shut as the catheter is pulled out.
- High ligation and vein stripping: Tying off a vein before it joins a deep vein and the vein is removed through small incisions. For most people, this is an outpatient procedure. Removing the vein won’t adversely affect circulation in your leg as veins deeper in the leg handles larger volumes of blood.
- Ambulatory phlebectomy: Smaller varicose veins are removed through a series of tiny skin punctures. The parts of your leg that are being pricked will be numbed in this outpatient procedure. Scarring is generally minimal.
- Endoscopic vein surgery: This surgery is reserved for advanced cases involving leg ulcers if other techniques fail. A thin video camera inserted in your leg to visualize and close varicose veins and remove the veins through small incisions. This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis.
Varicose veins that develop during pregnancy normally improve without medical attention within 3 to 12 months after giving birth.
DIAGNOSING VARICOSE VEINS
- History taking and physical exam: Your legs will be examined for visible veins while you’re sitting or standing. Your doctor may ask you about any pain or symptoms you’re having.
- Ultrasound veins: May be performed to check your blood flow. This is a non-invasive test that allows your doctor is able to see how the blood is flowing in your veins.
- Angiogram: May be used to further assess your veins. This procedure is less commonly used. Your doctor injects a special dye into your legs and X-rays are taken of the area to give your doctor a better view of how your blood is flowing. Tests like an ultrasound or angiogram help to ensure that another disorder like a blood clot or a blockage is not the cause of the pain and swelling in your legs.