What are Varicose veins?

Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen veins visible above the surface of the skin. They often appear bulging and twisted, dark purple or blue in color, and are most commonly found on legs or feet, where blood vessels work hard to pump blood back towards your heart, although they can occur anywhere in your body. Healthy veins in legs contain one-way valves, directing blood flow upward towards your heart. When valves become diseased and don’t close properly or fail to function, blood flows in the opposite direction causing veins to swell (up to four times their normal size). The increased pressure can be painful and cause a burning sensation. Some varicose veins cause no pain, although it is less common, but may be a visible warning sign of other circulatory conditions. They can range in size and severity sometimes taking years for visible signs to appear, but they generally don’t recover on their own. Often they can be seen in people with occupations that require extended periods of time sitting, or standing, but also can occur during pregnancy. Hemorrhoids are also a form of varicose veins. Varicose veins can occur in either sex, but they are more prevalent in women.

Signs and symptoms of Varicose veins

Varicose veins are diagnosed with a physical exam and ultrasound to check blood flow, along with reviewing symptoms you’re experiencing. Although some varicose veins may not cause pain, highly visible signs include protruding and twisting veins that appear dark purple or blue on the skin’s surface. When varicose veins do turn painful, signs and symptoms include: a heavy, tired feeling in your legs, painful inflammation, swelling around your ankles, discoloration, itchy veins, a burning feeling and in severe cases you may develop ulcers or blood clots. Standing or sitting for a prolonged period of time can increase pain.

Risk factors and complications for Varicose Veins

The risk of developing varicose veins increases with the following factors: family history, gender (females are more inclined to develop varicose veins), hormonal changes during pregnancy, age (50 and above), obesity and occupation (jobs that involve prolonged periods of time, standing or sitting). And although uncommon, complications of varicose veins can develop: highly painful ulcers may emerge on skin near varicose veins, notably near the ankles, Thrombophlebitis (an inflammatory process) causes blood clots to form and block your veins, and bleeding (although slight) may occur with veins that rupture close to the skin.