For many people with varicose veins, the worst thing about these twisted, bulging viscosities is their appearance — until, that is, they start causing irritating symptoms like swelling, aching leg pain and heaviness, spontaneous leg muscle cramping, and itchy skin.
At Woodlands Vein Center & Preventative Medicine Clinic in Shenandoah, Texas, our skilled vascular experts provide complete care — including nonsurgical vein removal solutions — for people with problematic varicose veins.
Here, board-certified nurse practitioner and seasoned varicose vein specialist Eliza Codd, ARNP, FNP-BC, AG-ACNP-BC, CLS, discusses the connection between poor circulation and damaged leg veins, and explains how the right treatment can help.
Varicose vein formation basics
If you have enlarged, bulging leg veins that look like dark blue twisted cords just beneath the surface of the skin, you’re not alone: More than one in three adults (35%) in the United States has varicose veins, and many more can expect to develop them at some point in life.
While anyone can get varicose veins, certain risk factors make them more likely. At the most basic level, they appear when their one-way valves become dysfunctional. These internal valves work to keep blood flowing normally from your lower extremities back to your heart.
When something damages or weakens them, however, blood no longer flows through them as efficiently as it should. Instead, it pools behind them and exerts pressure on the surrounding vessel wall, causing it to swell, bulge, and contort — or become varicose.
Risk factors that increase your chances of varicose vein formation include:
- Older age
- Taller height
- Family history
- Female gender
- Being overweight
- Multiple pregnancies
- Tobacco use (smoking)
- Lack of physical activity
- Frequent sitting or standing
The more varicose vein risk factors you have, the more likely you are to develop them. While mild varicose veins are often just a cosmetic concern, moderate to severe leg veins often give rise to leg pain, heaviness, itching, swelling, and other bothersome symptoms.
The effects of poor circulation
Most varicose veins are associated with a condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), otherwise known as poor circulation. CVI often plays a role in varicose vein development, and the sluggish blood flow that comes with varicose veins can make CVI worse.
When CVI is mild, varicose veins tend to be mild, too. But when poor circulation progresses unchecked, varicose veins are likely to worsen and become problematic. You may notice:
- Chronic achiness or heaviness in your legs
- Intermittent leg pain when you exercise
- Leg discomfort during prolonged inactivity
- Random leg muscle cramping and swelling
- Intense skin itchiness in the affected area
- Overly dry or flaky skin that begins to scale
- Visibly raised or inflamed sub-surface veins
As you can see, varicose veins aren’t simply a cosmetic concern, especially if they continue to develop and advance. And when varicose veins make your legs feel uncomfortably heavy or achy, it’s time to consider your treatment options.
Effective treatment solutions
Remember, the longer you have varicose veins, the more likely they are to give rise to irritating symptoms. Luckily, vein treatment puts an end to these chronic symptoms so you can become more active during the day, get more sleep at night, and improve the overall quality of your life.
To get rid of problematic veins and improve your circulation, we may recommend a minimally invasive varicose vein ablation treatment like:
- Sclerotherapy chemical ablation to remove small to mid-sized veins
- VENCLOSE® radiofrequency (RF) ablation to eliminate painful or cramped veins
- ClariVein® mechanochemical vein ablation to get rid of large or stubborn veins
While these quick in-office procedures can significantly ease (and often help eliminate) your varicose vein symptoms, lifestyle changes are just as important when it comes to minimizing or reversing the effects of poor circulation.
To assist lower extremity circulation and halt CVI progression, we may recommend increased physical activity, weight loss, smoking cessation, and wearing compression garments.
Tired of living with heavy, achy legs? We can help. To learn more about your treatment options, call our office in Shenandoah, Texas, today, or click online to schedule a visit at Woodlands Vein Center & Preventative Medicine Clinic any time.