The Circulatory System
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. In order to do this, 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 that 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.
What Is Vein Disease?
Vein disease is one of the most common health conditions affecting over 30 percent of the population.1 Vein disease, also referred to as venous insufficiency, is the primary cause of varicose veins.
Vein disease occurs when the valves or walls in your leg veins malfunction. When these vessels become weakened, they have difficulty pushing the blood back to your heart. As a result, blood begins to pool in your legs which can cause spider veins,
varicose veins, and skin ulcers.
Vein Disease Signs and Symptoms
Vein disease is most often associated with physical signs like varicose veins, spider veins, or reticular veins. For some, vein disease can also cause painful symptoms leading to a
decreased quality of life. The following are symptoms of vein disease:
- 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 vein disease. Receiving treatment for vein disease can help alleviate signs and symptoms and prevent your condition from becoming worse.