Varicose veins, which are also more commonly referred to as spider veins, are enlarged, swollen, and twisted veins that occur just beneath the skin. They are often blue or purple in color and mainly appear to happen in a person’s leg area, although they can form in other areas of the body as well. Varicose veins affect approximately 1 in every 4 people in the United States.
Why varicose veins occur is different for every person. They are often caused by increased pressure to the veins in a person’s legs. This increased pressure happens when valves within the veins are weak or damaged. The blood is unable to flow towards a person’s heart and instead just sits and accumulates within a vein rather than travels through the vein. This causes the veins to have added pressure, which can lead to them swelling. The weakened or faulty vein walls are something that many medical experts do not know the cause of. It is known that menopause, pregnancy, being over the age of 50, being overweight, and constantly standing for longer periods of time can all be risk factors for causing weakened vein valves. Varicose veins are also sometimes hereditary in that the chance of defective vein valves or walls can be passed down from a family member. Varicose veins themselves are typically found present in overweight people, those who are pregnant, or those who spend quite a bit of time on standing on their feet.
Treatment is usually done to reduce any symptoms and to help prevent complications that can be caused by varicose veins. In extreme cases, the pressure in a varicose vein can build up to the point where it ruptures or causes skin ulcers. Both of which can cause other complications if not treated in a timely matter.
These symptoms can include an ache, burning sensations, or heaviness in the legs. Mild swelling can happen, usually near the ankles or feet, and itchy skin near the area of the varicose veins is common. People with varicose veins may get frequent leg cramps, especially when first standing after sitting for a period of time. Restless leg syndrome is also fairly common in those with varicose veins. Varicose vein symptoms are usually mild, but can be more noticeable or painful as the day wears on, or even after standing for a prolonged period of time.
There are many different ways to treat varicose veins. For starters, doctors will often suggest that a patient try at home options, such as wearing compression socks to help alleviate the pressure to a person’s veins. Also exercise is often a frequently suggested approach that can take place at right at home. Exercise can help by improving circulation within a person’s legs. This helps to pump blood back through a person’s veins to their heart. Doctors will suggest a variety of exercise techniques, such as simply walking or jogging. Cycling or doing leg lifts can also help to improve circulation within a person’s legs to both improve current varicose vein issues as well as prevent future problems with varicose veins. All of these exercise activities can help to keep the pressure within the veins from building up, allowing for relief from the uncomfortable pain caused by varicose vein swelling.
In the chance that exercise does not work for a particular person, there are a number of other at home things people can try with a doctor’s recommendation. These include elevating their feet as much as possible, cutting back on smoking in an attempt to quit altogether, wearing loose or non-constricting clothing, as well as working to avoid standing in one spot for a prolonged amount of time. Doctors will also often recommend that someone with varicose veins work to maintain a healthy body weight.
Other forms of treatment can be used; surgery included. One form of treatment includes foam Sclerotherapy. This form of foam treatment for varicose veins allows small amounts of solution to be made into foam and mixed with amounts of air. Then the foam mixture is injected directly into the veins by way of watching via ultrasound imaging. Foam Sclerotherapy works best with patients who have small or moderate sized varicose veins. Some doctors believe this to be a better alternative than invasive surgery and there are many valid positive sides to choosing such a treatment option. This is a fairly new treatment approach, however, and long term results are still be studied at this time.
Regardless of the treatment or preventative plan someone may choose, it is always recommended that each person check with their doctors to determine the best option personalized directly for them. Working with a doctor allows each person to get a medical recommendation that will work best for them without causing more pain or harm to their condition.