Varicose veins are twisted and swollen veins that can be seen beneath the skin. They tend to be bluish in color and frequently occur on the legs and on the feet and ankles, although they can appear on other parts of the body. For some patients, varicose veins can become merely a cosmetic issue but does not cause any discomfort. However, in other situations, varicose veins can actually be quite painful. They can also be a sign of an underlying circulatory issue, and a significant factor when it comes to foot and ankle health.
What Causes Them?
Our veins provide the important and necessary function of getting blood to the heart and maintaining proper circulation. Inside of the veins are valves, tissue structures that are responsible for keeping blood flowing in one direction. When these valves become weak, damaged, or stretched over time, blood can pool back down in the veins and cause them to swell and become enlarged.
Varicose veins often occur in the areas of the foot and ankle and lower leg, because here, veins have work against the forces of gravity in order to return blood to the heart. Weight bearing factors can also weaken the valves due to increased pressure in these regions.
There are several different factors that can possibly influence your chances of getting varicose veins. For instance, if trauma occurs to the veins from an injury or if you have a history of blood clots, the risk for varicose veins can be greater. Other factors can include:
- Age – as we get older, more wear and tear affects the vein valves, causing them to become weaker and less elastic.
- Lack of Movement- Standing for a long periods can impact blood flow. Veins have to work increasingly harder to pump blood back to your heart. This can lead to the blood pooling, and thus can result in varicose veins.
- Gender- Both men and women are susceptible to developing the condition, but women are more likely to get varicose veins due to hormonal changes like menopause and pregnancy.
- Pregnancy- Varicose veins are one of the common risks for pregnant women. This is not only due to hormonal changes, but also because the increase in blood volume and pressure on the veins from the fetus.
- Obesity – Extra weight on the body can put extra pressure on the veins as well.
Varicose Vein Symptoms
While varicose veins may cause nothing more than a visible appearance beneath the skin, they have the capacity to be quite painful and result in concerning health issues. When varicose veins symptoms do occur they can include the following:
- Swelling of feet, ankles, or legs
- Legs that feel heavy or ache
- Dry or irritated skin
- Skin changes in the legs and ankles
- Itching around the veins
- Leg pain following standing or sitting for long periods
In more severe cases, blood clots or ulcers around the ankle may also develop. These symptoms should be addressed with medical attention, as they may be detrimental to your health, or the be a sign of a dangerous condition.
Varicose veins are treated in different ways. Determining the best form of treatment will rely on the degree of the condition and the goals discussed between a podiatrist and a patient.
Quite commonly, varicose veins are treated by conservative methods and lifestyle changes. These options can involve wearing compression stockings to help alleviate pain and prevent the condition from worsening. Other steps may include:
- Regular exercise
- Elevating the legs
- Avoiding standing or sitting for an extended amount of time
- Losing weight if that’s a factor
If varicose vein symptoms are not relieved by these methods, or if the condition is more severe, other treatment options may be recommended. Additional methods may also be sought by patients who are unhappy with the cosmetic look of the veins.These techniques can include sclerotherapy, minimally invasive procedures, laser treatments, and possibly surgery.
Superior Care For Varicose Veins
When it comes to common foot and ankle problems, varicose veins certain fit the bill. Pain isn’t also an issue, but if you are suffering from it or have concerns related other symptoms, seek out the attention of a podiatrist or health care professional. At Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center, our caring staff board certified foot doctors are dedicated to helping each and every one of their patients. This encompasses providing patients education and implementing possible preventive treatments to ensure that even minor issues don’t impact the happiness and healthiness of their feet. If you have cosmetic or medical questions about varicose veins, or if you are experiencing another type of foot problem, please contact our Long Beach office today.