Since vein care is half of our name, at Premier Heart and Vein Care we always feel it’s important to educate our patients and potential patients about what’s behind problems with their vascular system. In this month’s first blog, we got into the what’s and how’s of varicose veins.
In this second blog, let’s get into who gets varicose veins, the risk factors that increase your odds, the symptoms, and what you could do to try and prevent them from forming.
Of course, that’s not always possible. So, when you see a purple curly bulging line coursing about the top of your shin or calf, that’s when a call to Dr. Stevens and our team at Premier Heart and Vein Care is in order.
Who gets varicose veins?
The passage of time and pregnancy are the two main causes of varicose veins.
- Aging — As we age, our vein walls lose some of their elasticity. This not only allows them to stretch, but it also means they won’t move the blood as effectively. Our muscles that help push the blood weaken, as well.
- Pregnancy — Some women develop varicose veins in pregnancy. This is because pregnancy increases the volume of blood in the body but decreases the flow of blood from the legs to the pelvis. While this is good for the developing fetus, it’s bad for the appearance of the legs when varicose veins form. Varicose veins in pregnant women usually improve on their own from 3-12 months after delivery.
There are a few risk factors that make it more likely you’ll develop varicose veins:
- Sex — Women are more likely to develop varicose veins due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, premenstruation, or menopause.
- Family history — There is a genetic factor to the development of varicose veins.
- Obesity — The added weight of obesity places more pressure on the veins in the legs and feet.
- Occupations — Jobs that require prolonged standing or sitting inhibit blood flow in the legs and feet, enabling varicose vein development.
What are the symptoms of varicose veins?
Most varicose veins are quite visible on the surface of the legs. They cause the skin to bulge upward with their twisting pattern. They show up as purple or dark blue cords on the legs. Some varicose veins are entirely painless for the person, but others can cause continual aching and pain. For varicose veins that cause pain, there are the symptoms to look for:
- Achy or heavy feeling in the legs
- Increased pain after sitting or standing for a long period
- Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping, and swelling in the legs
- Bleeding varicose veins
- Itching around a vein
- A raised, cordlike appearance that pushes the skin outward
- Hardening of the vein, color changes, skin ulceration near the ankle, which is a sign of a serious form of vascular disease
Is there anything I can do to prevent varicose veins from forming?
There isn’t anything you can do to completely prevent the formation of varicose veins, but if you improve your muscle tone and your circulation, this reduces the possibility. The following measures can help lessen any pain you may have from a varicose vein, and it also helps to prevent future veins from developing:
- Get exercise to improve circulation
- Manage your weight
- Eat a high fiber diet
- Lower your salt intake
- Elevate your legs when sitting or watching TV
- Avoid high heels and overly tight hosiery
- Change positions frequently when sitting or standing
Will compression stockings solve my varicose vein problem?
When Dr. Stevens is helping a patient deal with his or her varicose veins often the first treatment is to begin wearing compression stockings. They are worn all day and they provide outward pressure on the legs, steadily squeezing the legs. This gives the veins the support they are lacking. Compression stockings, along with some of the above measures such as losing weight, may be all you need. But in other cases, Dr. Stevens needs to move on to other treatment options.
Now that you’re an expert in varicose veins, in future blogs we’ll get into what Dr. Stevens can do to help you get rid of these unsightly, possibly painful nuisances on our legs. Until then, if you need to have your varicose veins checked out, Premier Heart and Vein Care is the call to make at (805) 979-4777.