Almost everybody knows someone who has suffered from varicose veins. Some patients unknowingly experience the symptoms of varicose veins before these large blue or purple blood vessels become visible. Understanding more about varicose vessels and their symptoms is helpful to patients who are considering treatment options for these unsightly and annoying veins.
All About Varicose Veins
Many patients consider these bulging vessels, which most often appear on the legs, a cosmetic issue. The Vascular Disease Foundation notes that their presence can significantly impact a person’s lifestyle.
In North America, individuals log more time absent from work thanks to vein disorders than they do lost time linked to artery disease. By the time they reach 50, almost 40 percent of females and 20 percent of males have developed significant issues with veins in the legs. Experts estimate that as many as 25 million individuals in the United States suffer from varicose veins.
According to the Baylor College of Medicine, abnormal one-way valves in veins are the cause of varicose vessels. If these valves become damaged or even weakened, blood traveling upward from the extremities toward the heart must fight against gravity. When an individual sits or stands for long periods, this blood pools behind the associated valve and exerts pressure that can stretch a vein until it becomes varicose.
Typical varicose vein risk factors include:
- Prolonged inactivity
- Being female
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Not all patients with varicose veins experience pain, the Mayo Clinic reports. Absent discomfort, patients might experience veins that look blue or dark purple or vessels that appear bulging and ropelike, much like cords on the legs.
A number of painful symptoms have been associated with this disorder. The most common include:
- A sensation of aching or heaviness in the legs
- Throbbing, muscle cramping, burning, and swelling in the lower portion of the legs
- Pain that gets worse after standing or sitting for extended periods
- Itching that occurs around a vein or veins
- Bleeding from a varicose vein
- An ulcer on a leg
- A painful cord that appears in a vein along with a red skin discoloration
A number of signs point to serious vascular disease and the need for medical intervention. They include skin ulcers or inflammation of skin near an ankle, changes in color, and vein hardening.
Fortunately, many treatment options exist for patients suffering from varicose veins. Some are lifestyle changes such as achieving and maintaining a healthy weight or avoiding long periods of sitting or standing without moving. Healthcare professionals offer several therapies that are minimally invasive in addition to surgical options. One of the most effective is the VNUS Closure® procedure.
It’s important for patients to realize, however, that no treatment to remove abnormal veins can prevent the development of new varicose vessels.