5 Red Flags That You Might Have Vein Disease

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
5 red flags you might have vein disease

Do you know if you might have vein disease? As our life and health needs change, it’s essential to discuss the possibility of vein disease with your venous specialist. Be sure to ask about any skin changes on your lower legs or extremities, especially if you’re noticing the appearance of spider veins or varicose veins, having new painful symptoms in the lower legs and feet. You might be experiencing signs of vein disease.

Even though millions of people are affected by vein disease, it’s often overlooked or misunderstood as a cosmetic problem, leaving patients like you unaware of the risk factors. Your primary care doctor may not have the expertise to discuss vein health and the symptoms of vein disease with you until the symptoms become severe. Here’s how to stay informed about

your vein health and know when to speak up about a referral to Center for Vein Restoration.

What is Vein Disease?

Vein disease, also known as venous disease, can be an overlooked medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Vein disease occurs when the veins in your body stop functioning correctly, which causes a variety of uncomfortable and potentially severe symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored. Vein disease is most evident in the lower extremities, calf, ankle, and foot.

Causes of vein disease, also known as chronic venous insufficiency, include:

There is no cure for vein disease, but there are lifestyle changes and treatment options available to mitigate the symptoms and improve circulation.

5 Red Flags You Might Have Vein Disease

1. Varicose Veins:

    The most common and visible sign of vein disease is the development of varicose veins. Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted, and often painful veins that typically appear in the legs, are usually blue or purple, and can be visible through the skin.

    Varicose veins shouldn’t be dismissed as a cosmetic concern since they can also be a sign of underlying venous insufficiency, where the small valves in the veins do not work correctly, allowing blood to flow backward and pool in the veins, causing swelling, bulging, and twisting. Varicose veins can also be painful, creating a burning or aching sensation around the vein and surrounding tissue.

    Symptoms of varicose veins include:

    • Visible appearance of varicose veins

    • Pain and heaviness in the leg

    • Throbbing in the legs

    • Discomfort that gets worse after standing or sitting for long periods

    You can treat the uncomfortable symptoms of varicose veins with lifestyle changes such as a healthy, low-salt diet, wearing compression stockings, regular exercise, and elevating your legs. Patients who don’t see a successful reduction of symptoms from conservative lifestyle changes and self-care can benefit from minimally invasive procedures to restore healthy blood flow.

    2. Skin Changes

      Another significant red flag for vein disease is the presence of skin changes and ulcers on the legs. Like varicose veins, skin changes are sometimes the more easily recognized symptoms of vein disease. It’s easy to dismiss aching legs as symptoms of age or fatigue, but skin changes to the lower extremities should be taken very seriously. Without treatment, skin changes from vein disease can be painful and potentially lead to healing challenges or chronic wounds.

      When blood pools in the lower extremities due to venous insufficiency, it can lead to skin changes known as venous stasis dermatitis.

      Symptoms of venous stasis dermatitis include:

      • Redness

      • Darkening of the skin

      • Inflammation

      • Venous ulcers or open sores

      Venous stasis dermatitis is caused when pooling blood from weak blood vessels leaks into the skin, causing inflammation and preventing oxygen from reaching the skin. If the condition worsens, patients can develop weeping sores that crust over and form scars, as well as pigmented and hardened areas of thickened, fibrotic skin.

      Tell your vein care specialist if you’re experiencing new skin problems or have noticed skin changes recently, as the cracked skin caused by venous stasis dermatitis can leave you vulnerable to severe bacterial infections that can impact your health.

      The best treatment for venous stasis dermatitis is to treat the underlying cause of the varicose vein–vein disease. While some patients see relief from uncomfortable skin symptoms with conservative at-home treatments like compression or elevation, it’s important to take skin changes seriously, especially if a wound has developed, and treat the root cause.

      If you’re experiencing an unexplained and sudden onset of redness, pain, swelling, or warmth in your leg radiating from below the knee, accompanied by difficulty breathing or chest pains, seek immediate medical attention as you may be experiencing symptoms of a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

      3. Chronic and Painful Swelling

      Chronic leg pain and swelling can be another red flag for vein disease, especially in the lower extremities. When the valves in your veins malfunction, they’re not effectively pumping blood back to the heart. The resultant blood and fluid pooling in the veins causes swelling and pain. This fluid buildup in the body is called edema and is a common symptom of chronic venous insufficiency or vein disease.

      Any new onset of unexplained swelling should be taken seriously, as it could also be a symptom of a medical emergency such as a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

      Symptoms of edema or painful swelling caused by vein disease are:

      • Swelling and tightness of the skin

      • Heavy feeling in the legs, feet, and ankles

      • Clothing feels uncomfortably tight

      • Pressing the affected area leaves a dent or pit, creating “pitting edema.”

      If you’re suddenly experiencing the above symptoms in conjunction with chest pain or trouble breathing, seek medical attention.

      Swelling in the legs can also be caused by a diet high in salt, pregnancy, trauma, injury to the leg, or uncharacteristically sitting for an extended period of time as you would traveling.

      You can relieve the swelling and discomfort caused by vein disease with lifestyle modifications such as lowering salt intake, wearing compression stockings, and increasing your activity levels.

      4. Leg Pain and Cramping

      If you frequently experience leg cramps and restless legs, it may be a sign of vein disease. These symptoms can be exceptionally uncomfortable and disruptive to your daily life, affecting your sleep and overall well-being.

      While leg pain can also be caused by overexertion or muscle cramps, take your leg pain seriously if you’re also experiencing skin changes or swelling. Leg cramps related to vein disease can be painful and often increase at night, caused by the accumulation of blood and fluid in the lower extremities, leading to blood pooling and cramps due to lack of proper blood flow to the muscles.

      Symptoms of leg pain caused by vein disease include:

      • Heavy, aching feeling in the legs

      • Burning or cramping feeling

      • Pain that increases when standing or walking

      Patients with vein disease are also at increased risk of developing restless leg syndrome or RLS. Symptoms of restless leg syndrome include the above but also an itching sensation accompanied by a crawling feeling and the irresistible urge to move the leg.

      Lifestyle changes and medications can help alleviate restless leg syndrome symptoms. Treating leg cramps and restless legs associated with vein disease often involves managing the underlying vein disease or chronic venous insufficiency.

      5. Family History and Lifestyle

      Family history can play a role in developing vein disease, especially varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis, especially if you have a family history of co-occurring diagnostics like high blood pressure or diabetes.

      Genetics is only one part of the puzzle regarding when and if you develop vein disease. Lifestyle choices like excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can increase the risk of exacerbating or developing vein disease.

      A family history of these issues doesn’t immediately mean you’ll develop vein disease, but taking a proactive approach to your vein health can only help.

      Ways to be proactive in preserving your vein health include:

      • Stay active

      • Maintain a healthy weight

      • Maintain a healthy diet

      • Elevate your legs after long periods of sitting or standing

      • Use compression stockings

      Even if you’re already dealing with uncomfortable and painful symptoms of vein disease or chronic venous insufficiency, you can still incorporate these changes into your daily life to see an ease of symptoms.

      Treating Vein Disease With the Clinical Leaders in Vein Care

      Staying healthy and educated about your health isn’t just about getting the flu shot on time; it means understanding your vein health and the red flags that might indicate vein disease. If you’re struggling with the uncomfortable and painful symptoms of vein disease, CVR’s board-certified experts and friendly staff are here to provide safe, comfortable, in-office solutions to treating the symptoms of vein disease.

      If you have any questions about your insurance coverage or need help scheduling an appointment, contact us at 240-965-3915 or schedule an appointment here. CVR gladly accepts various insurance providers, including Aetna, Amerigroup, Anthem, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, MultiPlan, Medicaid, Medicare, and many others.

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