About 30 million people have varicose veins, and some do experience pain, especially when they walk, according to the American Heart Association. It is a condition that often goes undiagnosed because people tend to credit the discomfort to muscle strain. The pain that comes with varicose veins, however, feels like a deep ache or a heaviness. Vein pain is a sign that you might require treatment.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are superficial veins that become engorged with blood. They can twist and swell as a result, and they usually are in the legs, because of the pressure when you stand and walk.
Embedded in the walls of the veins are valves that open and close to allow blood flow. When the walls contract, the valves open, and the blood moves upward. When they relax, the valves close to keep the blood from going backward.
Over time, a valve can get weak or not close properly. This malfunction allows blood to pool, and that causes the vein to swell.
What are the symptoms of varicose veins?
Some people complain of an ache or heaviness in their legs, especially if they have been walking or standing. You may also experience muscle cramping or throbbing in the lower limbs.
Most varicose veins are buried in the tissue and not visible. Some do appear on the surface, though. Along with vein pain, you may see:
- Thick rope-like veins that are purple or red.
- Veins that bulge .
- Bumps on the leg around swollen veins.
- Skin discoloration.
You should see a doctor for treatment if measures such as elevating your legs don’t ease the pain or if the leg gets hot and red in an area around the vein.
Why untreated varicose veins put you at risk
Varicose veins can lead to complications in the legs. Some people develop ulcers from the veins around the ankles, which happens because the pooling blood breaks down the thin skin there.
Leaving the veins untreated can also put you at risk for blood clots in the deep veins of the legs. Blood clots can block the circulation in the vein, causing tissue death. A piece can break off and affect circulation in other parts of the body, too, such as the heart, causing a heart attack, the brain, causing a stroke, or the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism.
You could also see bleeding from veins near the surface. All bleeding is a potential problem and needs evaluation by a health care professional.
Why should you consider varicose vein treatment?
Once upon a time, varicose vein treatments were a big deal. They required a surgeon to insert a flexible rod in the leg by the groin and strip the damaged vein out.
Today’s varicose vein treatments are a little less dramatic. Doctors can treat these veins with a catheter that uses radio waves to heat the vein and cause it to collapse. Once the vein is gone, your body reroutes the blood flow, improving your circulation.
There are noninvasive treatment options too that use lasers through the skin to block off the vein, forcing blood to reroute. Here’s what patients have to say about our varicose vein treatment options.
Can you walk after varicose vein surgery?
Ideally, you will rest and baby your legs for the first few days after surgery, but walking is a must. You will need to get up and walk at least 10 minutes every day to help with healing.
Varicose legs tend to be genetic, so for some, they will be a fact of life. If you find yourself walking and veins start to ache, it’s time to meet our physicians in New York.