Varicose Veins – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Pictures

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins become apparent when the veins near the skin surface become enlarged and twisted. This often appears on the feet and legs due to the pressure on the veins of these parts of the body which is brought about by walking and standing upright. These twisted veins on the feet and legs are not only unsightly, but they also feel painful to some of those afflicted.

The treatment for varicose veins helps in preventing the condition from getting worse. It may not be life-threatening but it could potentially lead to more serious health problems. Twisted and enlarged veins can be treated at home with some self-care measures. Affected individuals may likewise opt to undergo procedures recommended by their doctor.

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What causes varicose veins ?

Healthcare professionals are puzzled over the exact cause of varicose veins. However, most of them believe that problematic valves have something to do with it. The veins have tiny valves which open to keep continuous blood flow from the legs to the heart, and then close tightly to prevent blood from flowing the wrong way. Once these valves get damaged and do not function properly, blood will gather in the veins in the legs or feet and become weak and twisted.

These valves stop working for variety of reasons, including:

  • Defective valves
  • Weak vein walls
  • Blood clots
  • Defective vein due to pregnancy or obesity
  • Aging
  • Medical conditions that may strain the valve for long periods of time like constipation and chronic cough

Occurrence of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are relatively common, affecting around 80 million people in the U.S. alone. It has been found to affect more women who are in their 40s to 70s because women of this age frequently undergo hormonal changes due to menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. Oral contraceptives have been found to increase the likelihood of developing this condition.

The condition has been found to affect men as well, especially those who are in their 70s.  Still, a small number suffer from it as early as 30 to 40 years of age. Studies also showed that the condition run in families, so the chances for those who have family members with varicose veins are high. The condition is also common among obese people as the extra weight strains the veins on the lower part of the body. Varicose vein is also common among people whose work requires sitting or standing for extended periods of time.

Appearance of varicose veins

Sufferers generally won’t feel any pain but realize the presence of bulging and gnarled cord-like veins on their legs, appearing in blue or dark purple hues. However, the twisted and bulging veins can be painful for some people. They feel that their legs are heavy. Muscle cramps, swelling and throbbing sensation are felt on the lower legs. They may feel intense pain after standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time. Itchiness may also be felt on the veins. Those who have serious vascular disorder will develop skin ulcers in the ankle. Varicose veins shouldn’t be confused with spider veins, which are smaller in blue or red color and appear like the web of a spider.

It would be best for sufferers who are concerned about their twisted and enlarged veins to visit the doctor for proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. This is especially important after trying all the self-care measures but the condition continues to worsen.

Varicose veins rarely result in complications, although this is possible. Among these are ulcers appearing near the twisted veins which are extremely painful. Blood clot on the legs is another complication that requires immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis of Varicose Veins

The doctor will first conduct a physical examination by looking at the patient’s feet and legs for any swelling while standing upright. This may also include describing any pain felt on the legs. The doctor may also request for an ultrasound to rule out malfunctioning valves or signs of blood clot. Additional tests may be required if the doctor suspects deep vein anomaly.

Treatment for Varicose Veins

The condition may be treated with home care remedies. This simple home care treatment approach helps alleviate the symptoms and prevent the condition from aggravating. This may involve:

  • Getting regular exercise
  • Wearing compression stockings – This can improve blood circulation
  • Avoiding standing or sitting for long stretches
  • Elevating the legs – Lift up your legs at or above the level of your heart, this is an effective home remedy
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Shying away from wearing high heels

Patients may also opt to go through different procedures to get rid of the unsightly twisted and enlarged veins, such as laser treatment, sclerotherapy, radiofrequency, vein stripping, ambulatory phlebectomy and surgery.

It should be noted that varicose veins cannot be completely avoided, and home care treatment works best in managing the condition and preventing it from worsening. It is highly recommended to consult the doctor when choosing among the various procedures of eliminating varicose veins.

Varicose Veins Pictures


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