Vein Disease: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments
If you are wondering, What is vein disease?, then you’ve come to the right place. At USA Vein Clinics, we specialize in the treatment of this common health condition. Vein disease, also known as venous insufficiency, impacts nearly 30 percent of the population.
Although not generally considered a serious health issue, this condition can nonetheless cause painful and uncomfortable vein disease symptoms. It can also result in varicose veins, spider veins, reticular veins, and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). Venous disease can ultimately lead to dangerous health conditions such as the formation of blood clots and leg ulcers.
Unfortunately, vein disease doesn’t go away on its own. If you are experiencing signs of vein disease, we recommend visiting a vein specialist. Our experts can meet with you to discuss your symptoms, risk factors, prognosis, and vein disease treatment options.
Vein Disease in Legs – Know the Signs
Vein disease is most often associated with visible signs like varicose or spider veins. For some, this chronic condition can cause painful and uncomfortable symptoms that result in a decreased quality of life. Below are the most common vein disease symptoms in legs:
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Tired, aching legs
- Burning in the calf or thigh
- Leg pain that feels better when you walk or raise your legs
- Itchy, dry skin
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- Difficulty standing for long periods
- Non-healing wounds on your legs
If you have leg discomfort that matches any of the above symptoms, you may have venous disease. Receiving vein disease treatment can help alleviate your symptoms and prevent your condition from becoming worse.
What Causes Vein Disease?
The circulatory system consists of veins and arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that bring oxygenated blood full of nutrients from the heart to the rest of the body.
Veins are vessels that transport blood without oxygen and nutrients back to the heart. In healthy leg veins, one-way valves allow blood to move only in one direction: towards the heart. When you walk, your leg muscles squeeze the deep veins of your legs and feet. This pushes the non-oxygenated blood back to the heart.
In your veins, there are one-way valves that are placed about one inch apart. These valves keep blood flowing in the right direction. When your leg muscles relax, the valves inside your veins close preventing the backward flow of blood back down the legs.
There are three types of veins in your legs: superficial veins, which lie close to the skin, deep veins, which lie in or beneath the muscles, and perforating veins, which connect the superficial to the deep veins. Deep veins bring the blood back to the major vein in your abdomen called the vena cava, which brings the blood straight to the heart.
Vein disease occurs when a valve in your vein does not circulate blood to your heart. This causes blood to flow backward and pool in your legs, leading to uncomfortable or painful symptoms. Damaged or weakened valves can make the surrounding valves work harder, contributing to more complications.
Additional Causes of Vein Disease
Along with malfunctioning vein valves, some additional factors that may increase your risk of developing this condition include:
- Standing or sitting for long periods of time can be one of the causes of vein disease. Staying in the same position does not promote healthy blood flow, leading to vein disease in legs.
- Smoking or history of smoking – Smoking weakens your veins, reducing blood flow.
- Lack of exercise can also cause venous insufficiency. Living a sedentary lifestyle can lead to muscles not being able to pump blood successfully.
- Family history – If either one or both of your parents have had vein disease in their legs, your risk increases exponentially.
How Serious Is Venous Insufficiency?
While venous insufficiency itself is not life-threatening, it can cause pain, cramping, or swelling that affects your quality of life. If left untreated, vein disease can lead to more serious conditions, including venous ulcers or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Venous ulcers are open, non-healing wounds that indicate advanced vein disease. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) refers to the formation of a blood clot in a vein located deep in your body. DVT is life-threatening and requires immediate emergency care.
What are Common Risk Factors for Vein Disease?
Unfortunately, the reality is that anyone can develop vein disease in legs. However, some demographics are associated with greater risk, including:
- People over the age of 50 – Age puts more strain on your veins causing them to weaken over time.
- Women – Hormonal changes make women more at risk than men for vein disease in legs.
- Pregnant women – Increased blood volume and an influx of hormones during pregnancy can impact vein health.
- Obese individuals – Excess weight places more pressure on your veins, sometimes causing them to malfunction.
- Anyone with high blood pressure – This condition can increase your risk of vein valves malfunctioning.
Venous Disease Treatment Options Available
Minimally-invasive venous insufficiency treatment options include:
- Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT) — EVLT uses ultrasound to guide the placement of a very thin laser fiber into the damaged vein. The laser is then heated, which closes the vein. The surrounding veins then take over the blood flow.
- Sclerotherapy injections – Very small veins are often treated with sclerotherapy. After using ultrasound to insert a tiny needle into the vein, your doctor injects a sterile solution which causes it to swell and close. The surrounding veins take over blood flow. With sclerotherapy, you may be instructed to wear compression stockings for a few days after treatment.
- Varithena – With this venous insufficiency treatment, your doctor uses ultrasound to guide a needle into the affected vein (usually the great saphenous vein or a surrounding vein) and then injects Varithena foam into it. The foam collapses the vein, and your surrounding veins pick up the blood flow.
- ClariVein– This treatment involves the use of a rotating catheter and a medical solution to treat any blocked varicose veins. This treatment is different from other methods because it allows for less pain during the procedure and a shorter recovery time.
- Ultrasound-Guided Sclerotherapy – This venous insufficiency treatment is used on veins that are close to the surface of the skin. Your doctor uses ultrasound to guide the injection of a medication that collapses the vein.
What Lifestyle Changes Can Help Manage Vein Disease?
There are a number of ways you can encourage better blood flow in your veins. Below are a few recommendations on how to reduce the symptoms and causes of vein disease in legs:
- Wear compression stockings – These special socks put constant pressure on your lower legs to encourage blood flow. They are available in different lengths, styles and compression levels. Ask your doctor about proper sizing and the best compression level for you.
- Stay active – Make movement a part of your life to promote good blood flow. Avoid sitting or standing in one place for long periods of time. Being sedentary is a leading cause of vein disease. When you’re sitting, stretch and move your legs and feet often. If you must be on your feet for extended periods, take occasional breaks and put your feet up, if possible. This helps ease the pressure on your leg veins.
- Exercise regularly – Working out helps improve your blood flow as well as your overall health. Talk with your doctor to come up with a workout plan that is most beneficial for your condition and lifestyle.
Vein Disease Treatment at USA Vein Clinics
If you are concerned about your vein health, we can help. At USA Vein Clinics, our vein specialists offer minimally-invasive, non-surgical vein disease treatment. All of our treatments are office-based and take only 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how many veins are involved. Afterward, you can leave immediately and return to most normal activities.
Although we offer a range of treatments, we work one-on-one to determine which option is right for you. Vein disease treatment is covered by most major insurance plans. To get started on your journey toward better vein health, schedule an appointment online or call 888.768.3467 today. You can choose to book a telemedicine consultation or visit one of 90 clinic locations nationwide.