What is vein disease? Also referred to as venous insufficiency, vein disease is a common condition that affects more than 30% of the population.(1) While this condition is manageable, it can lead to serious complications if left untreated.
When you have venous insufficiency, your veins are unable to efficiently transport blood from the legs back to the heart. When the valves or walls of the veins become weakened, blood pools in your legs, causing spider veins, varicose veins, and even skin ulcers.
Vein Disease in Legs – Know the Signs
Vein disease is most often associated with physical signs like varicose veins, spider veins, or reticular veins. For some, this can cause painful symptoms leading to a decreased quality of life. Below are the most common symptoms of vein disease 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 insufficiency. Receiving treatment can help alleviate signs and symptoms and prevent your condition from becoming worse.
What Causes Venous Insufficiency?
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, pushing 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 is caused 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
Wondering what are the causes of vein disease? There are various factors that may make you more likely to develop vein disease, such as:
- 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 be what causes 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, 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).
What are Common Risk Factors for Vein Disease?
Anyone can develop this common condition of vein disease in legs. However, certain groups and factors 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 – Hormone changes make women more at risk than men for vein disease in the legs.
- Pregnancy – Increased blood volume during pregnancy can enlarge your veins.
- Obesity – Extra weight can put more pressure on your veins.
- Family history of blood clots or vein disease – Genetics plays a key role in the development of vein disease.
- High blood pressure – This condition can increase your risk of vein valves malfunctioning.
Venous Insufficiency 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 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:
- 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.
- 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 sedimentary 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.
Get Vein Disease Treatment at USA Vein Clinics
Are you experiencing vein problems or do you have questions about your vein health? At USA Vein Clinics, we offer non-surgical, office-based vein disease treatment options. Once you schedule your appointment, you will meet with one of our vascular specialists who will diagnose your condition and provide the best treatment option for it. Our staff will be available throughout the procedure and recovery process to answer all your questions.
If you are ready to find relief from vein disease, use our online scheduler or call 888.768.3467 to schedule an appointment today.