Varicose Veins
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Varicose veins are defined as enlarged, twisted, painful superficial veins resulting from poorly functioning valves.

Causes of Varicose Veins

In normal veins, valves in the vein keep blood moving forward toward the heart. With varicose veins, the valves do not function properly allowing blood to remain in the vein. Pooling of blood in a vein causes it to enlarge. This process usually occurs in the veins of the legs, although it many occur elsewhere.

Varicose veins are common, affecting mostly women. Causes include congenitally defective valves, thrombophlebitis and pregnancy. Prolonged standing and increased pressure within the abdomen may increase susceptibility to the development of varicose veins or aggravate the condition.

Primary varicose veins occur because of congenitally defective valves, or without a known cause. Secondary varicose veins occur because of another condition such as occurs when a pregnant women develops varicose veins.

Symptoms of Varicose Veins

Patient may feel pain in the legs. They may feel fullness, heaviness and aching. There may be visible, enlarged veins. There may also be mild swelling of ankles. Skin at the ankle get discoloured, brown in colour.

Skin ulcers may occur near the ankle. The diagnosis is based primarily on the characteristic appearance of the legs when the patient is standing or is seated with the legs dangling. Rarely, an angiography of the legs may be performed to rule out other disorders.

At time a physician may order a duplex ultrasound exam of extremity to see blood flow and characterize the vessels and to rule out other disorders of the legs.

Treatment of Varicose Veins

Treatment is usually conservative. The patient will be asked to avoid excess standing, elevate the leg when resting or sleeping, and to wear elastic support hose. Treatment may be requested to improve the appearance.

Surgery such as vein stripping and ligation, that is removal of the varicose vein, or sclerotherapy of veins, that is injecting with a solution that causes scarring, which closes the vein, may be recommended. Vein stripping is a very extensive procedure and it is usually reserved for patients who are experiencing a lot of pain or who have skin ulcers.

Varicose veins tend to worsen overtime. Discomfort and progression may be lessened with self-care. Complications include are Phlebitis, that is chronic inflammation of the vein, formation of leg ulcers, Rupture of a varicose veins, etc. If varicose veins are painful, then immediate consultation should be made with doctor.

Sudden increase in pain or swelling, fever, redness of the leg are also the main complications. Varicose veins can be prevented by avoiding prolonged standing if personal of family history indicates that there is a risk of developing varicose veins.

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