Knowing the signs for varicose veins

Carol Casebolt

Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins. Any vein may become varicose, but the veins most commonly affected are those in your legs and feet.


For many people, varicose veins and spider veins, a common, mild variation of varicose veins are simply a cosmetic concern. For other people, varicose veins can cause aching pain and discomfort. Sometimes varicose veins lead to more-serious problems.


"Varicose veins may be associated with blood clots and venous stasis wounds," said Pikeville Medical Center Vascular Surgeon Nancy Clark, M.D.


When painful signs and symptoms occur, they may include:


•An achy or heavy feeling in your legs


•Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs


•Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time


•Itching around one or more of your veins


•Bleeding from varicose veins


•A painful cord in the vein with red discoloration of the skin


•Color changes, hardening of the vein, inflammation of the skin or skin ulcers near your ankle, which can mean you have a serious form of vascular disease that requires medical attention.


Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but they are smaller. Spider veins are found closer to the skin's surface and are often red or blue.


They occur on the legs, but can also be found on the face. Spider veins vary in size and often look like a spider's web.


"Consultation with a vascular specialist may be helpful for treatment of aching leg pain associated with venous disease, treatment of venous stasis wounds, and to discuss removal of bulging and painful varicose veins," said Dr. Clark.


Self-care such as exercise, elevating your legs or wearing compression stockings can help you ease the pain of varicose veins and may prevent them from getting worse. But if you are concerned about how your veins look and feel and self-care measures have not stopped your condition from getting worse, see your doctor.


Dr. Clark said, "Varicose veins can be hereditary, and commonly seen in females, especially during and after pregnancy. Varicosities are also seen in patients with prior history of DVT, and in patients with history of prolonged standing, such as in a work environment."


Arteries carry blood from your heart to the rest of your tissues. Veins return blood from the rest of your body to your heart, so the blood can be recirculated. To return blood to your heart, the veins in your legs must work against gravity.


Muscle contractions in your lower legs act as pumps, and elastic vein walls help blood return to your heart. Tiny valves in your veins open as blood flows toward your heart then close to stop blood from flowing backward.


Age, sex, family history and obesity are factors that increase the risk of developing varicose veins.


For additional information about varicose veins or to schedule an appointment with Pikeville Medical Center Vascular Surgeons Dr. Nancy Clark or Dr. Al Addasi call 606-218-2202.