Venous insufficiency, also commonly known as vein disease, is most often associated with physical symptoms such as varicose or spider veins. However, this underlying condition can cause a variety of symptoms that can potentially impact your quality of life.
Typical vein disease symptoms include:
- Swelling in your legs and ankles
- Cramps or achy-ness in the thigh or calf
- Tired or heavy legs – (common for vein disease in legs)
- Restlessness, especially at night
- Itchy, dry, or hardened skin on your legs
- Wounds on your legs or ankles that take a long time to heal or don’t heal at all
- Leg pain that goes away when you walk or elevate your legs
It’s important to note that not everyone experiences the same vein disease symptoms. While some people may only feel pain once in a while, others may suffer through chronic pain that negatively impacts their overall well-being. Continue reading to learn more about your symptoms and find out if underlying venous insufficiency could be the cause.
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Common Vein Disease Symptoms
It can be easy to disregard your symptoms and think they are not a priority, especially if they are not severe at first. Many people put off getting checked for underlying vein disease because they think their symptoms are just caused by aging. Venous insufficiency is a progressive disease that may worsen over time. Symptoms of vein disease in legs may start off as a nagging, annoyance and become debilitating if left untreated.
If you notice any of the below symptoms, you should see a vascular specialist to discuss an effective treatment plan.
Venous edema is chronic swelling often located in the legs, ankles, or feet. Leg swelling can be a sign of vein disease in legs, affecting over 90% of swollen leg cases. Inflammation in the legs is an often ignored or overlooked symptom of underlying venous insufficiency.
Swelling may involve one or both legs. This is caused by blood pooling in the lower extremities’ veins, which cases inflammation to occur. If only one leg is swollen, this may indicate a serious blockage also known as May-Thurner Syndrome.
Cramping in the Thigh or Calf
Another common venous insufficiency symptom like restlessness, leg cramping often occurs at night and may even wake you from your sleep. Leg cramps can range from mild to severe. Standing or sitting for long periods may also induce cramping in the thigh or calf.
Leg cramping can also occur after standing or walking for extensive periods of time. Jobs that require this like construction workers or teachers, may become too painful to endure. Many people with venous insufficiency may avoid activities with their friends or family that require extensive standing if the cramping is not addressed. Walking may even feel like you have to exert more energy to move them.
Visible Varicose or Spider Veins
Varicose veins – leg veins often appear rope-like, bulging, or enlarged and may be either blue, green, or purple. These veins become enlarged when blood is allowed to pool and backup within the veins of the lower extremities. This is caused by your valves not properly regulating blood flow from your legs back up towards your heart.
Varicose veins are often a visible sign of venous insufficiency, also known as vein disease. Varicose veins may also be accompanied by spider veins, which are typically smaller and not raised. Spider veins may appear right below the skin’s surface and is an early indication of vein disease in legs.
Leg Fatigue or Heaviness
For those who have not experienced heavy legs, it may seem like an odd feeling. But people who have experienced this vein disease symptom, they often describe it like their legs feel difficult to move or lift up. It can also feel like there are weights strapped to your legs.
When the blood begins to pool in your legs, this can lead to your legs feeling heavier than normal. Another reason vein disease in legs may feel heavier is the amount of swelling you may experience in your lower body. As leg fatigue or heaviness increases, it can become more difficult to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Restless leg syndrome, otherwise known as RLS, is a condition that may lead to uncomfortable sensations in the legs, especially in the calves. People with RLS sometimes feel the urge to move, especially towards the end of the day or night when you are laying down.
Several studies over the years have indicated that close to 22% of all RLS cases are caused by vein disease in legs. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 98% of patients who were suffering with RLS saw a significant symptom relief after receiving nonsurgical vein treatment.
People are often unaware that underlying venous insufficiency can lead to skin changes. It can be easy to discount your symptoms, especially in the winter or when seasons change. Poor circulation due to damaged vein valves can lead to dry, hardened, or shiny skin. Many people think applying lotion will help; however, fixing the root of the issue is the only way to lower your recurrence rate.
In addition, venous insufficiency can cause skin to become cracked or discolored, which can lead to venous ulcers if left untreated. It’s important to see a doctor if you notice slow or non-healing wounds on your lower extremities.
Burning or Itching Sensation
The feeling of itchiness on or around your veins may be a result of a condition known as venous stasis dermatitis. When blood builds up in damaged vessels, it can eventually leak out into the skin and surrounding tissues. The leaky blood vessels and associated inflammation may lead to not enough oxygen reaching your skin.
Over time, the skin over the veins may become red and itchy. Some people describe the burning sensation as a feeling of hotness on the backs of their calves or thighs. This symptom may get worse and become more prominent in the warm, summer months.
Slow or Non-Healing Wounds
Ulcers are defined as abnormal breaks in the skin or mucous membrane. This long-lasting vein disease symptom is a sore or wound is typically characterized as slow-healing or non-healing. Ulcers are known to take more than five to six weeks to heal. Although leg ulcers can develop anywhere on the leg or foot, they usually develop on the inside of the calf, just above the ankle. 80% of all ulcers of the lower limb are caused by vein disease in legs..
When veins become damaged, it may cause a leakage of fluid through the veins, resulting in swelling of the limbs. This swelling further prevents the flow of blood to the tissue in the leg, causing the formation of an ulcer.
Leg Pain and Elevation
Are you one of those people who have a lot of pillows on your bed so you can prop up your legs? You might believe this is just for comfort, but it could stem from a bigger problem. People who suffer from vein disease often find it helpful to prop their legs up at night. Leg pain from vein disease tends to subside when the legs become elevated.
Find Treatment Near You
If you suffer from painful varicose vein symptoms, our vascular specialists can help you. Locate a USA Vein Clinics center in your area using our interactive online map.
Don’t wait for your symptoms to go away or worsen before getting help. If your symptoms are negatively impacting your life, it’s time to give us a call at 888.768.3467.
You can make an initial appointment at any time by clicking the button below. We can diagnose your vein condition and work together to find the right treatment for you.