Varicose veins are a condition that affects the legs. Varicose veins form when valves within blood vessels weaken or fail to work properly, allowing blood to pool up and collect in one area of the vein wall. The build-up of pressure causes swelling that you may feel like a heavy ache or throbbing pain.
Varicose veins usually develop gradually with age as circulation becomes weaker over time, but they can also happen after an injury.
How Can You Tell if You Have Varicose Veins?
Most people affected by varicose veins experience little or no pain, and they may fail to take action in the early stages. However, check out for the following signs to tell if you have varicose veins:
- Twisted, lumpy, and swollen veins
- Veins appear dark purple or blue
- Aching legs
- Swollen ankles
- At night or after exercising, the legs feel heavy
- Leg cramps when suddenly standing up
- Shiny skin discoloration, usually brownish, near the varicose veins
- Excessive bleeding after a minor injury
What Are the Causes of Varicose Veins?
Arteries transport blood from your heart to other body tissues, while veins carry the blood from body tissues into your heart. Veins have valves that close to prevent backflow of the blood. Leg veins are farthest from the heart, and to carry blood back to the heart, they have to work against gravity.
When the veins fail to function properly, instead of the blood flowing back into the heart, it collects in the veins. When the muscles of your leg contract, they push the blood in the veins back into the heart. If the valves are weakened or damaged, blood flows back and collects into pools, causing the veins to twist or stretch.
Besides the damaged valves, there are other risk factors that predispose you to varicose veins:
Risk Factors Associated with Varicose Veins
The following are factors that increase your risk of developing varicose veins:
Varicose veins are more likely to affect women than men. Research has shown that female hormones tend to relax the walls of the veins, which makes the valves more prone to leaking. It is more common in older adults, affecting more than 23% of US citizens, with 22 million (85%) women being affected. Hormonal changes are caused by premenstrual syndrome or menopause. Family planning methods like pills can also increase the risk of developing varicose veins.
DNA plays a huge role in determining whether you are likely to have varicose veins or not. If any of your family members have had varicose veins condition, the chances are high that you will suffer from them too.
It is a chronic condition that affects about one-third of people aged between 45-55 years and about two-thirds of people over sixty-five. As you age, the valves in your veins become weak and damaged, causing them to allow backflow of the blood. In addition, age affects the elasticity of your veins.
Your legs support all your body weight. When you are overweight, you exert extra pressure on your veins which causes them to strain while pumping blood back to the heart. Increased pressure on the valves makes them more prone to leakage. As a result, people who are overweight are more likely to get varicose veins.
During pregnancy, blood circulation increases to support the baby’s development, which puts extra pressure on your veins. In addition, due to the pregnancy, the body produces more hormones that cause the walls of the blood vessels to relax.
As the fetus continues to grow, the womb expands, putting more pressure on your pelvic area, causing the veins to expand and stretch. However, although pregnancy predisposes you to varicose veins, the veins grow back to normal after the child is born.
Complications from Varicose Veins
Varicose veins might cause complications, although they are infrequent, which include:
Varicose veins can cause increased pressure on the skin around the ankles. This can lead to skin thickening and discoloration and, in some cases, progress to ulcers or nonhealing wounds around the ankles.
When blood flows back into varicose veins with pooling and increased pressure, the veins become swollen and twisted. This can cause bleeding, which will require medical attention.
Home Remedies You Can use to Prevent and Treat Varicose Veins
Surgical treatment of varicose veins can be costly. Luckily, there are easy ways you can adopt to prevent and cure varicose veins. They are:
Regular exercises help improve blood circulation all over the body, including the legs. Healthy muscles in the legs push the blood back to the heart with ease. You can do simple exercises like walking, swimming, and cycling to reduce your blood pressure which contributes to varicose veins.
Keeping the Legs Elevated
When sitting down, always keep your legs elevated. Elevating the legs help reduce pressure in the veins, reduces gravity, and improves blood circulation. If your work involves sitting for long, aim at keeping your legs elevated.
Compression stockings help apply pressure to the legs, which aids veins and muscles to push blood to the heart. They have pressure amounts between 18 and 21 mmHg and are available in most pharmacies and online stores.
This is a medical treatment that involves injecting a substance directly into the vein using a fine needle. The liquid irritates the vein’s lining, making it heal shut. After some time, the vein becomes a scar tissue that eventually fades away.
Varicose veins are a common condition that mainly affects older people. However, it is more common in women and is caused by age, body weight, and genetics. The best part is that varicose veins are preventable, and there are non-surgical treatment methods like sclerotherapy. If you or your loved one is affected by varicose veins, they can get help from Beach Wellness. We are a team of health professionals specializing in the non-surgical treatment of varicose veins and peripheral arterial disease. Feel free to contact us today!
ABOUT DR. ALI GOLSHAN
Ali Golshan, MD, is a double board-certified leading vascular expert who specializes in in-office, minimally-invasive interventional radiology treatments at Beach Wellness MD. Dr. Golshan devotes personalized attention to each patient to develop an individualized treatment plan.
Dr. Golshan graduated summa cum laude as valedictorian from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) with a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology. He then earned a Master of Business Administration from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a Doctorate of Medicine from the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Dr. Golshan completed a residency in radiology at UCLA and a fellowship in interventional radiology at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.