Varicose veins are tortuous, enlarged and deformed veins primarily affecting the lower leg. The varicose veins may also appear as swollen and elevated in a bluish purple or red colour. Some people may even experience the painful varicose condition. In an advanced case, there may be skin discolouration and/or non-healing ulcer.
Any vein may become varicose but the vein in the legs and feet are the most common ones. This is because standing and walking upright increases the pressure in the veins of the lower portion of the body. Pain and other associated discomfort is also a common phenomenon. Sometimes, the varicose veins may also lead to serious problems resulting in a higher risk related to the blood circulatory problem.
Causes of varicose veins:
Varicose veins may occur when the veins are not functioning properly. The veins usually have a one-way valve to prevent the blood from flowing backwards. When these valves fail to function, then the blood begins collecting in the veins rather than moving toward the heart and this results in the enlargement of the veins. When muscles surrounding deep veins contract, emptying deeper veins, pressure builds up in the perforating veins (connection between superficial and deeper channels) causing even more blood to flow to the superficial veins causing varicosities.
The varicose veins more often affect the legs because the vein of the legs is farthest from the heart and the dependant location with gravity makes it difficult for the blood to flow upward.
Following are the other potential causes of varicose veins that can include-
- Age– With age, the veins start losing elasticity and the valves present in the veins start becoming rigid and inefficient. The blood normally flows towards the heart but in such case, it starts flowing backwards. Hence the blood gets accumulated in the veins and becomes enlarged and tortuous resulting in varicose veins. The varicose veins usually appear bluish due to the presence of the deoxygenated blood.
- Pregnancy– Some pregnant woman may also tend to develop some varicose veins because during pregnancy the blood volume increases in the body. But the blood flow is decreased from the legs up to the pelvis. The varicose veins may even worsen during the late pregnancy period because during this phase the uterus exerts a great pressure on the veins of the legs. Changes in the hormonal level may also worsen the condition.
- There are also other factors that may result in giving rise to varicose veins like Menopause, Obesity, Family history, high cholesterol or any condition leading to thickening of blood vessels.
Varicose veins may exhibit certain symptoms like-
- Veins become dark purple or blue in colour.
- The veins may also appear twisted and bulged out like cords in the leg.
- Varicose veins may also be painful with a heavy foot and tired leg feeling.
- Often patients may also experience burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in the lower part of the legs.
- The worst part of the condition is the pain associated with sitting or standing for a long time.
- Itching around one or more veins.
- Bleeding from the veins.
- Change of the vein colour, hardening of the vein, and inflammation of the skin or formation of a skin ulcer near the ankle.
- Ulceration near varicose veins, particularly near the ankles.
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