In addition to knowing about common vein disorders, you should take the time to understand rare vein disorders so you can seek treatment when necessary.
When you hear the words “vein disease,” a few things likely come to mind immediately, such as chronic venous insufficiency or blood clots. But several less common venous disorders can also damage your veins, cause poor circulation, and prevent deoxygenated blood from returning to your heart. Here are some you should be aware of:
Vasculitis causes the inside of blood vessels to narrow, causing vein blockage, tissue damage, blood clots, organ malfunction, or even aneurysms. Common symptoms include joint pain, fever, weight loss, muscle pain, headaches, high blood pressure, diarrhea, lesions, and abdominal pain. Kidney failure, blindness, dyspnea, and nosebleeds are also possible.
The underlying cause of vasculitis is unknown. However, it’s thought that vasculitis may occur when the body’s immune system is disturbed, such as after taking certain medications or contracting a fungal, viral, or parasitic infection.
Phlebitis, or vein inflammation, can affect both superficial and deep veins. Risk factors for phlebitis include obesity, smoking, pregnancy, prolonged periods of inactivity, cancer, varicose veins, and blood disorders. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, take birth control pills, undergo hormone replacement therapy, or have injured your arms or legs, you may be at a higher risk of phlebitis.
Since superficial phlebitis only affects veins close to your skin’s surface, it’s usually nothing to worry about and will resolve itself quickly with proper care. Consider walking more, elevating your arm or leg, and applying warm compresses to the affected area. To manage any discomfort in the meantime, speak to your doctor about wearing compression stockings or taking anti-inflammatory medications.
Deep vein thrombophlebitis (DVT) is a blood clot that occurs within large blood vessels (often in the legs) located deep below the surface of your skin. This serious medical condition can cause swelling or pain throughout the entire affected limb. Deep vein thrombosis, a type of thrombophlebitis, can lead to a life-threatening pulmonary embolism if a clot breaks free and travels through your bloodstream to your lungs. There are several treatment options depending on the patient's particular situation. Often blood thinners are recommended.
Buerger’s disease is associated with tobacco use and often affects small and medium veins and arteries by blocking or narrowing them. Consequently, you may experience pain in your arms, hands, legs, and feet as the blood supply to your fingers, hands, toes, and feet is reduced or cut off. In severe cases, your tissue may die (also known as gangrene), and you’ll need an amputation.
If you have Raynaud’s phenomenon, you will experience spasms in the arteries in your fingers (and sometimes toes). Your skin may also appear white or bluish and feel numb or cold. Often caused by exposure to stress or cold temperatures, this condition results in a temporary lack of blood supply to your fingers or toes. In severe cases, Raynaud’s phenomenon can lead to gangrene, amputation, and sepsis.
A common misconception is that varicose veins only affect older women. Still, the truth is that they can affect anyone — even young adults! Common risk factors include obesity, pregnancy, and spending long periods of time standing.
Caused by damaged vein valves, these bulging, swollen, and often purple veins can be seen below the surface of your skin and are usually accompanied by aching or swollen legs at the end of the day. Spider veins, a mild variation of varicose veins, occur when capillaries swell. Spider veins may appear as small purple or red bursts on your legs.
Venous disorder symptoms vary, but if you’ve experienced ulcers, numbness, burning, itching, swelling, inflammation, or discoloration on your leg or along a vein, it’s time to visit a doctor. Your doctor will perform blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, or ultrasounds to determine if you have a vein disorder. If so, the doctor may recommend conservative treatment such as lifestyle changes or compression stockings. For varicose veins, minimally invasive procedures such as sclerotherapy or ambulatory phlebectomy may be recommended. DVT treatment may require angioplasty,clot-dissolving medications, or vena cava filter placement.
Dr. Normand Miller, MD, FACS, RPVI, RVT, a board-certified vascular surgeon specializing in vascular disease and venous insufficiency, offers surgical procedures and non-surgical treatment methods for vein disorders at Center for Vein Restoration’s New Hampshire locations in Salem and Nashua. Schedule a consultation today.
224 Main St., Suite 1-D
Salem, NH 03079
400 Amherst St., Suite 402
Nashua, NH 03063