When Varicose Veins Hurt
The telltale symptom of legs affected by varicose veins are bulging discolorations, typically ranging from dark blue to dark purple. This is caused by poor circulation, when the blood that makes its way down to the legs doesn’t have enough pressure to make it all the way back up to the lungs and the heart for reoxidation. The leg veins twist under the increased load from the pooling of blood, leading to unsightly bulging vein problems.
The initial cue tends to be this visual distortion. However, especially if left untreated, varicose veins can lead to much more uncomfortable symptoms. In order to understand more about these possible complications, we turn to vein specialist Dr. John Chuback of Chuback Medical Group in Paramus, New Jersey.
Understanding varicose vein discomfort with an expert from Paramus, NJ
The onset of more serious symptoms can be quite gradual, explains Dr. Chuback. Because the blood in the veins of the legs isn’t flowing like it should in order to refresh its supply of oxygen, one of the most common effects is simple fatigue. Over time, this tendency to quickly become tired can lead to a more general feeling of heaviness in the legs, and from there proceed to achiness, tenderness, and an all-over dull pain.
This heavy, tired ache may not always be at a constant level of severity. The trend is for it to increase as the day goes on, as we spend more time in a fixed position – be it sitting or standing – and the veins in the legs get increasingly less time to rest.
It’s also possible for this discomfort to manifest as cramps or itchiness. Swelling is common as well; this is known as lymphedema.
More serious complications
The pain in the legs associated with varicose veins, while certainly uncomfortable, is not usually a health threat in itself. However, there are several more serious complications related to untreated venous problems that require immediate medical attention.
The pooling of blood within the ankles can cause the surrounding skin to become irritated by an itchy rash, which can develop into a painful ulcer. This is caused by buildup of fluid in ankle tissue from the increased blood flow borne by the surrounding veins. This condition generally results from insufficient circulation over a long period of time. It can be indicative of a serious form of vascular disease and requires immediate medical attention.
Another symptom that you should watch for is swelling. While some minor swelling is common in conjunction with varicose veins, it tends to be gradual, slowly growing over time with increased blood pressure. Should pronounced swelling occur suddenly, it may be a direct result of a blood clot in a vein deep within the leg. This should be examined at by a professional immediately, as it could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
What you can do about painful varicose veins
If you’re not exhibiting any of the more uncommon serious symptoms, the good news is that there are many non-invasive treatment options that can alleviate your leg pain. Dr. Chuback’s first recommendation to those suffering from heaviness and fatigue is to make a few simple lifestyle adjustments; these can be as elementary as elevating the legs, moderate exercise, and eating a balanced diet. All of these actions decrease the workload on your distressed veins.
Another conservative treatment option is compression stockings. High-strength versions of these are available through a prescription, and they use constant external pressure to help blood travel properly throughout the body.
However, it’s possible that these initial steps only provide a temporary relief from the pain of varicose veins. To get rid of varicose veins entirely, professional vein treatment may be required. The range of minimally invasive procedures available to you should be discussed with your doctor; these may include injection or laser sclerotherapy, ambulatory phlebectomy, or Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT Treatment).