Varicose And Spider Veins
Over 40 Million people have varicose veins in the United States. While you might consider varicose or spider veins a cosmetic problem, they’re a sign of venous disease. Varicose veins are a sign of vascular weakness, and you shouldn’t ignore them, especially if you have other symptoms of vascular health problems such as leg swelling, skin discoloration, or venous ulcers. You’re more likely to develop varicose or spider veins if you have a family history of varicose veins, obesity, history of a blood clot, pregnancy, or spending too many hours sitting or standing in the same position.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are the blue or purple swollen veins that bulge against your skin. They can develop anywhere on your body, but you’re most likely to find them on your legs. Varicose veins form when weak valves in your veins allow blood to flow backward and pool. The pooling blood causes your veins to swell and become visible on the surface of your skin. In addition to looking unattractive, varicose veins can also cause skin discoloration, itchiness, aches, and leg fatigue.
What are spider veins?
Spider veins are another sign of vascular weakness and appear reddish and flat. Their thin, spindly appearance resembles a spider’s web, which is how they get their name. Although spider veins may look unattractive, they may be a result of a medical vein problem called chronic venous insufficiency.
When you experience leg pain without an injury, it may be a warning sign of a vein or vascular problem.
What vascular conditions cause leg pain?
If your leg pain worsens during prolonged periods of sitting or standing, but elevating your legs brings relief, you may have one of the following vein conditions:
Varicose or spider veins: Varicose veins are enlarged and twisted veins that develop when blood pools and stretches the wall of the vein. Blood pooling is usually due to chronic venous insufficiency, also known as venous reflux.
Chronic venous insufficiency: The veins in your legs need to fight against gravity to return blood to your heart, so they contain valves that prevent blood from flowing backward. Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when these valves weaken, causing blood to reflux and pool in the legs.
Deep vein thrombosis: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in your body, typically in the leg. DVT is a potentially serious condition because a piece of the clot can detach and travel through the veins to the heart and lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.
Leg swelling: Leg swelling, or edema, can be a sign of a wide range of medical conditions, including lymphedema, cellulitis, or venous disease.
When leg pain is due to a vein problem, you might experience the following symptoms:
● Heaviness in the legs
● Swelling in the lower legs, worse in the morning
● Itching and burning
● Changes in skin color
● Leg cramps
You may also have a venous ulcer, which looks like an open sore or discoloration on the lower leg, drainage that appears “wet” especially around the ankle.
If your leg pain worsens with walking or at night that cause you to have to hang your foot over the side of the bed for relief, you may have an arterial problem:
Atherosclerosis: Is a vascular disease that is caused by a build-up of plaque in the inner lining (intima) of arteries that restricts or blocks blood flow to a specific organ or region of the body.
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD): Results from a progressive thickening of an artery’s lining caused by a buildup of plaque, which narrows or blocks blood flow, reducing circulation of the blood to a specific organ or region of the body.
When leg pain is due to an artery problem, you might experience the following symptoms:
● Leg cramps
● Leg pain with walking and relieved with periods of rest
● Leg pain at night
● Loss of hair on lower extremity
You may also have an arterial ulcer, which looks like an open sore with a “punched out” appearance, pale to black in color with minimal drainage.
You should never ignore leg swelling, also known as peripheral edema, because it can be a sign of a vein problem or other serious condition, like a blood clot, that needs treatment.
What causes leg swelling?
Leg swelling can be due to a problem with your veins and circulatory system, your lymphatic system, or your kidneys. At other times, leg swelling is a sign that you need to rest your feet after sitting or standing for too long.
Health conditions that can cause leg swelling include:
● Venous disease
● Kidney disease
● Congestive heart failure
● Liver disease
● Certain cardiovascular medications
Of all these health issues associated with leg swelling, venous disease is one of the most prevalent. Varicose vein problems arise when the valves in the leg veins are not working properly to keep blood moving. Varicose veins begin to swell and become twisted “rope-like” near the surface of the skin that you can see, but these can also develop under the skin that are not visible to the eye.
What vein conditions can make my legs swell?
Leg swelling can be the first and only symptom of a venous disease. Venaflux diagnoses and treats many problems associated with leg swelling, including:
Varicose and spider veins: Varicose veins are abnormally large, twisted, and discolored veins that often appear to bulge through the skin. Leg pain, swelling, and heaviness are common symptoms of varicose veins. Spider veins are like varicose veins but smaller, closer to the skin’s surface, and usually red or purple in color.
Chronic venous insufficiency: Chronic venous insufficiency, also called venous reflux, is the underlying cause of varicose veins. When the small valves in your leg veins weaken or fail, blood moves backward and pools in the vein. This causes leg pain, heaviness, cramps, restless leg syndrome, and leg swelling.
Deep vein thrombosis: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in your leg. Leg swelling and leg pain are the primary symptoms of DVT, a potentially serious condition that can lead to a pulmonary embolism.
How is leg swelling diagnosed?
The Venaflux team has extensive experience diagnosing and treating vein problems that cause leg swelling. They begin by carefully reviewing your symptoms and medical history and performing a physical exam. The team may also begin conservative therapy to reduce swelling and/or perform vascular ultrasound(s) to confirm a vein or vascular diagnosis.
How is leg swelling treated?
The Venaflux team creates an individualized treatment plan for the specific cause of your leg swelling. Possible treatment options for leg swelling include:
● Compression socks and devices
● Leg elevation
● Leg exercises
● Venoactive medications
● Blood thinning medications
● Dietary changes like eating less sodium
● Ambulatory phlebectomy
● Endovenous ablation
Don’t wait to seek treatment for leg swelling.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a frustrating condition that makes you feel like you need to move your legs, often to relieve an uncomfortable sensation. RLS typically strikes when you sit or lie down, like when you’re trying to fall asleep. RLS can also mimic venous insufficiency, which is often an overlooked cause.
The primary RLS symptom is an urge to move your legs. Other common characteristics of RLS include:
● Uncomfortable sensations that begin at rest
● Relief of sensations with leg movement
● Worsening symptoms in the evening
● Nighttime leg twitching
RLS causes leg sensations that can be difficult to describe but may feel like crawling, creeping, aching, throbbing, pulling, or an electric shock.
Research suggests RLS may be due to an imbalance of dopamine, the brain chemical that controls muscle movement. However, RLS often occurs without a clear cause. Certain factors can increase your risk for RLS, such as chronic venous insufficiency, iron deficiency, kidney failure, and peripheral neuropathy. Being pregnant or having a family history of RLS can also increase your risk.
If your primary care physician can’t identify the cause of your RLS, they may refer you to Venaflux to determine if chronic venous insufficiency is the problem.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Venous ulcers are a potentially dangerous side effect of venous disease.
What are venous ulcers?
Ulcers are open sores on your skin. They can develop anywhere on your body but are most often found on the feet, ankles, and legs. A normal wound, such as a cut or scrape, typically begins to heal almost immediately. Ulcers might not heal without specialized treatment. Leg discoloration or hyperpigmentation is an early sign of a vein problem that could lead to venous ulcers. If the skin on your ankles becomes darker or reddish, you should talk to a vascular health specialist.
What causes venous ulcers?
Venous ulcers form when a vascular health problem reduces circulation in part of your body. Chronic venous insufficiency reduces the efficiency of your blood flow as it returns to your heart and lungs. The blood pressure in your legs should decrease when you walk, but chronic venous insufficiency interferes with this process. As a result, the high pressure in your legs causes ulcers to form.
When should I talk to a specialist about venous ulcers?
If possible, you should talk to a vein specialist before venous ulcers form. Other signs of venous disease include:
● Aching, heavy, or tired legs
● Swelling in your feet, ankles, and legs
● Varicose veins or spider veins
● Leg discoloration and hyperpigmentation
However, if a venous ulcer is the first sign of a health problem, make an appointment at Venaflux immediately. Ulcers are open wounds that either heal slowly or not at all. Professional treatment is critical to prevent other serious health problems from developing.
How are venous ulcers treated?
At Venaflux, we will conduct a comprehensive medical history and perform a thorough physical exam to evaluate your venous ulceration. A complete venous ultrasound is ordered to help determine the cause of your venous ulcer. These ulcers are usually treated with a combination of wound care and vein care.
Wound care: The key to healing your venous ulcer is to remove any dead tissue that might be impeding wound healing. The team at Venaflux will evaluate your venous ulcer and determine the best wound care options for you and if there is a need for referral to a wound care clinic for ongoing wound care.
Vein care: Your provider at Venaflux also treats the underlying condition that led to your venous ulcers. This could include medication, compression stockings, or vein treatments: endovenous ablation, phlebectomy, or sclerotherapy. Your provider might also recommend changing your diet, getting daily exercise, or losing weight.
Lymphedema is a condition that occurs when the lymphatic system is impaired and there is a build-up of lymph fluid that causes swelling and discomfort
Early and careful management of lymphedema is needed to help reduce symptoms and keep it from getting worse
Lymphatic pumps are clinically proven to stimulate the lymphatic system and is a home treatment for clinically effective lifelong management.
We help create a care plan that addresses your specific condition and we are here to answer all of your questions & acknowledge your concerns.