Do you have unsightly veins on your legs? Are you experiencing unexplained leg pain? You could be one of the 25 million people in the United States suffering from a variety of varicose vein symptoms.
Venous insufficiency and venous reflux may be associated with common symptoms of varicose veins, which include tender, enlarged veins, swollen legs, skin discoloration, restless legs, muscle cramps, aching legs, and in extreme cases, skin ulcerations and blood clots.
Venous reflux allows venous blood to pool in the lower legs as the normal upward flow of blood is disturbed. This additional volume of venous blood can easily lead to leg swelling with dependency. The swelling is often improved by leg elevation and use of medical grade support hose, though these are temporary and do not cure the underlying problem of venous reflux.
Lower calf and ankle skin discoloration is also seen with advanced venous insufficiency. With the added pressure in the lower leg veins, small blood cells can leak out of the vessel wall and become deposited in the tissues. As these blood cells break down and are absorbed, the pigment remains in the tissues, leading to the usually permanent skin discoloration.
Blood clots may form in the varicose veins due to the disordered and turbulent flow in these larger than normal, twisted veins. Stagnant flow can precipitate the formation of blood clots which often remain superficial, but can extend into the deep veins leading to more dangerous DVTs (deep vein thromboses).
While women are most commonly affected, men comprise about 20% of varicose vein patients. You may have a higher varicose vein risk if you suffer from one or more of the common symptoms.
Typical Varicose Vein Symptoms
- Aching legs, usually worse as the day progresses
- Throbbing along the enlarged veins where pressure increases
- Itching at the site of skin discoloration (dermatitis)
- Restless legs (which often respond very well to varicose vein treatments)
- General discomfort
- Swollen legs, especially in the lower legs when blood does not exit the leg normally
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