5 Red Flags That 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:
High Blood Pressure
History of trauma or injury to the lower leg, ankle, or foot that damaged the circulatory system
An occupation that requires sitting or standing for prolonged periods
5 Red Flags You Might Have Vein Disease
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
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.
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:
Darkening of the skin
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:
Maintain a healthy weight
Maintain a healthy diet
Elevate your legs after long periods of sitting or standing
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 1-800-Fix-Legs ( 1-855-495-2940) 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.