What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins affect an estimated 40% of women and 25% of men. They generally appear as twisted, gnarled, or bulging rope-like cords on the legs. They occur anywhere from the groin to the ankle. Factors leading to varicose veins include: heredity, gender, pregnancy and age. Some factors may escalate the development of vein disease. These include prolonged standing, obesity, hormone levels and physical trauma.
Varicose Veins Symptoms
In addition to the visual appearance, patients may experience one or more of the following leg symptoms:
- Varicose vein pain, aching or cramping in the legs
- Burning or tingling sensations
- Tender areas around the veins
- Phlebitis (Inflammation)
- Blood Clots (e.g. DVT)
- Ankle sores, Venous Stasis or skin ulcers
What causes varicose veins?
Arteries carry blood from your heart to your extremities, delivering oxygen deep into the tissue. Veins then return the ‘de-oxygenated’ blood back to your heart for re-circulation. To return this blood to the heart, your leg veins must work against gravity. Small, one-way valves in the veins open to allow blood to flow upward towards the heart. Properly functioning, they then close to prevent it from flowing backward. Varicose veins occur when the valves in superficial leg veins malfunction. When this occurs, the valve may be unable to close, allowing blood that should be moving towards the heart to flow backward (called venous reflux). Blood collects in your lower veins causing them to enlarge and become varicose.
Varicose veins can occur throughout the venous system, but they occur primarily in the great saphenous vein, small saphenous vein, and other truncal veins of the superficial venous system. The diagram illustrates how a normal vein should flow versus a varicose vein.
Preventing Varicose Veins
Unfortunately, varicose veins are not preventable.
Varicose Vein Treatment
Fortunately, we CAN treat varicose veins! Various treatment options are available depending on a patient’s symptoms. Certain measures may help relieve discomfort from existing varicose veins and prevent others from arising.
Natural Treatments for Varicose Veins:
- Exercise regularly (walking is ideal)
- Avoid sitting for long periods of time
- Avoid standing for long periods of time
- Control weight
- Utilize Compression Socks or Hosiery
Since these measures only address the symptoms and not the underlying cause of the disease, varicose veins may enlarge and worsen over time. Legs and feet may begin to swell. Sensations of pain, heaviness, burning or tenderness may occur. Varicose veins may also indicate a higher risk of more significant circulatory problems.
Varicose veins produce a multitude of symptoms. In extreme cases, they can lead to serious medical conditions. It is hard to believe that, just a few years ago, the only remedy for varicose veins was a painful surgical vein stripping. The process involved hospital time followed by a lengthy recovery period. The good news is that those days are over! Boulder Vein Center is pleased to offer the latest treatment options for Varicose Veins. Learn more about treatment options in your visit to Boulder Vein Center. Please give us a call at