Your body carries blood from your heart out to the rest of your body through your arteries. Veins then carry blood back to the heart, and vein valves stop the blood from flowing backward. This is a healthy transfer of blood in your body. However, when veins have trouble sending blood from your limbs to the heart, it’s known as venous insufficiency. More specifically, the blood supply doesn’t flow back properly to the heart, causing blood to pool in the veins in your legs.
There are various symptoms, causes, and diagnostic tools available to the Vein Experts at Spectrum Dermatology that will help treat your vein condition including varicose, spider, and reticular veins. By examining the signs and asking about symptoms of the disorder; such as the presence of varicose veins, swelling in the legs, skin changes, or skin ulcers; the diagnosis for the underlying causes of vein disease is possible and a treatment plan is developed for your particular situation.
Symptoms of venous insufficiency include:
Leg swelling that does not extend to their feet
Numbness in areas where there are pronounced veins.
The Legs Throb
The throbbing of the legs is due to the increased pressure of the blood against the vein wall which can occur over the entire leg. However, it is most frequently experienced over areas of spider veins or large varicose veins. Worsening after periods of standing, patients report an increase in throbbing toward the end of the day. In fact, some patients report that they experience throbbing in their calves or even feet after exercising.
Itchiness or an irritated rash on or near your veins. This may lead to severely dry skin and can be a form of eczema.
A Need to Elevate The Legs
Sometimes symptoms of venous insufficiency can be subtle in that patients express the need to put their legs up at the end of the day in order to feel relief. Additionally, patients feel their veins are under pressure when standing which goes away when their legs are elevated. Although this can be normal, it often indicates a subtle sign of venous insufficiency.
Increased Symptoms at the Time of Menstruation
Varicose veins may be more noticeable around the time of a woman’s menstruation and may worsen after pregnancy due to increased hormone levels.
Varicose veins can often be quite painful to touch, especially after a day of activity, standing or performing errands. Many patients are surprised that even spider veins can be painful, however, this is normal as spider veins transmit high pressures from larger veins. Many patients find relief from compression stockings.
When assessing varicose veins, or spider veins, it is important to know the primary cause of the issue. Is there venous insufficiency? If so, which veins are not working well?
A venous ultrasound is a primary tool that vein specialists use to evaluate the veins of the leg. An ultrasound functions by measuring the sound waves in the tissue and generating pictures of the impacted area. From these images, our specialists can see which veins are working as expected, and which ones are leaking blood back into the legs, causing an increase in pressure. Most commonly, the vein that is malfunctioning will be the saphenous vein, which runs under the skin from the groin to ankle. The ultrasound will evaluate the saphenous vein, as well as the other main veins in the leg for insufficiency. Furthermore, this study can also tell us if there are clots in the veins, which can be dangerous to many patients.
If you have a vein condition such as varicose veins, or really any signs of venous insufficiency, you may want to consider an ultrasound as part of your evaluation which should take 30-45 minutes.
The following factors may put one at a higher risk of developing varicose veins or spider veins. While the causes of venous disease are not clearly identified yet, considering risk factors we have to differentiate between varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency.
Examine your family history as sometimes genetics play a role and you might find your mother, grandmother, siblings, etc have also had varicose veins. If so, there is a possibility that you also may experience varicose veins. Of course, only some cases of varicose veins are genetic, but just the predisposition to “inherit” varicose veins does run within families.
Women are more likely to develop varicose veins (or spider veins), while really only twenty-five percent of cases occur in men. There is a study or other research has indicated increased levels of hormones in women may cause the walls of the veins to relax, resulting in failure.
An enlarged uterus can cause additional pressure on veins. When elevated hormone levels are combined with additional pressure, many women get varicose veins for the first time while pregnant or just after. These veins usually get worse with additional pregnancies, and may improve after giving birth to a child.
As we get older, the elasticity in our vein walls decreases, increasing the possibility that valves will fail and varicose veins will develop.
Increased weight (or simply too much weight) does increase the risk of patients for developing varicose veins and venous insufficiency. This might be due to the fact that weight does increase the pressure on the venous system as a whole, or because of the disruption of the construction of the valves inside the tissues. Often going on a diet or otherwise dropping a few pounds helps alleviate symptoms of venous conditions in overweight patients.
People whose occupations require them to stand or sit for long periods of time (e.g. waitresses, hairdressers) are statistically more likely to develop varicose veins than those who do not have this type of job.
An injury or trauma may cause veins and valves to fail, thereby resulting in patients experiencing symptoms of venous insufficiency. Trauma could mean anything including a knee or hip surgery, a broken leg as a teenager, or even a forceful injury which never caused fractured bones.
At Spectrum Vein Center, our experienced vascular ultrasound technologists help immensely in our ability to diagnose the underlying problems causing our patients’ varicose, spider, or reticular veins. Once we see which veins aren’t working correctly, we are able to formulate a customized vein treatment strategy. Spectrum Dermatology provides expertise, knowledge, and passion to vein disease. Our experience and reputation make Spectrum Dermatology one of the most sought-after dermatologists in the Scottsdale and Phoenix area. For more information or to set up an appointment, please contact Spectrum Vein Center at (480) 948-8400.