When to Worry About Your Varicose Veins
Varicose veins don’t always produce symptoms. But when they do, it may be time to visit a vein specialist.
Many patients with varicose veins view the bulging veins on their legs as a cosmetic issue, not one requiring a doctor’s visit, as the veins don’t present any other symptoms. Yet for others, varicose veins cause significant discomfort. These patients often wonder whether they should seek medical treatment for their varicose veins.
In fact, there are definite signs that your varicose veins have progressed to the point where medical intervention is necessary — and could be the only solution to eliminate the unpleasant symptoms. Here’s how you know when to see a vein specialist.
When to See a Doctor About Your Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are the result of defective valves in the leg veins. These faulty valves weaken vein walls, thanks to the increased pressure of backed-up blood in the vein. Normally, the valves close and push blood back to the heart; when they cannot close, the blood pools and enlarges in the vein. Eventually, the vein wall stretches outward, becoming a varicose vein.
Varicose veins produce distinct symptoms. While not medically serious, they do indicate that you would be helped by doctor-prescribed therapy. Aching and heavy legs, in addition to itching, throbbing, and cramping, are typical characteristics of varicose veins.
Those symptoms may also keep you up at night, contributing to restless leg syndrome (RLS). Although RLS and varicose veins are different conditions, studies have suggested a link between the two. Those studies concluded that, for some RLS patients, varicose vein treatments reduced RLS symptoms. It’s also wise to seek medical intervention any time a varicose vein bleeds.
Many people reduce varicose vein symptoms by elevating their feet, wearing compression stockings, losing weight, or exercising. When those at-home remedies fail to alleviate discomfort, it’s time to see a doctor and explore your treatment options.
When Varicose Veins Turn Serious
Your varicose vein necessitates immediate medical attention if a skin ulcer that doesn’t heal erupts around the vein. Beyond that, several studies have suggested that varicose veins may put you at higher risk of a serious medical disorder such as a blood clot in the leg. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a clot forms in a deep leg vein and causes these symptoms:
- Sudden increase in pain and swelling.
- Changes in skin color, usually turning skin darker or brownish.
- Skin feels warm or hot to the touch.
Having varicose veins doesn’t mean you’ll develop a blood clot. Research so far has pointed to a link, but has yet to prove varicose veins actually cause DVT. Nevertheless, DVT is a serious vascular disorder that poses a risk when a breakaway clot lodges in the lungs and causes a potentially life-threatening pulmonary embolism (PE). Signs of PE include chest pain and shortness of breath. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Varicose veins also heighten the risk of a less harmful condition known as superficial thrombophlebitis, or a clot in the superficial veins that feed into the deep leg legs. Tenderness, redness, and a firm bump on the skin are marks of superficial thrombophlebitis, which is not serious and doesn’t require medical treatment. At-home care, including warm compresses applied to the area and elevating your feet, can reduce superficial thrombophlebitis. However, those same symptoms could indicate an infection, which should be treated by a doctor.
We Treat Varicose Veins
When your varicose veins become painful and prevent you from enjoying your everyday activities, the vein specialists at the Center for Vein Restoration can propose many conservative therapies and treatments to reduce your symptoms or completely erase your varicose veins. Before we recommend any treatment plan, we’ll perform a thorough physical exam and an ultrasound test to determine the best course of treatment to restore your vein health. We’ll make sure you are comfortable with whichever treatment plan you choose. Make an appointment today.