Veins have valves that normally block or open the flow of blood in the vessels. As blood flow in the veins is directed from the tissues to the heart, the valves' job is to prevent venous blood from returning to the veins of the lower extremities.
When the elasticity of the vessel wall decreases and the vein expands, the valves do not regulate blood flow and varicose veins develop, which is characterized by the stagnation of venous blood in the veins. That is, blood cannot be transported normally from the legs to the heart - it is constantly delayed.
With varicose veins, the superficial veins on the legs turn dark blue or purple, look irregular, bulge, and misshapen. Not always with varicose veins protruding to the surface, as they may be located deep in the tissues of the lower extremities. Because of this, leg pain is often confusing to people because there is no apparent cause for the pain.
Varicose veins need to be treated as they can lead to thrombophlebitis - inflammation of the venous wall. With thrombophlebitis, blood clots form, if they enter the pulmonary circulation, a person can die from a pulmonary embolism, in which a blood clot clogs vital vessels.
Causes of varicose veins
Varicose veins in the legs occur due to decreased elasticity of the venous wall and valve insufficiency. The following contribute to the development of varicose veins:
- sedentary lifestyle and long-term work. It often develops in office workers, weight lifters, dentists and surgeons;
- hereditary predisposition;
- female: women suffer from varicose veins more often than men, as the "female" hormones estrogens negatively affect the venous wall. Also, during pregnancy, the pressure in the veins of the pelvis and lower extremities increases, so the risk of developing varicose veins of the lower extremities becomes greater.
- congenital weakness of the vascular system;
- Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome, in which pathological messages are formed between arteries and veins, contributing to the reverse outflow of venous blood.
varicose veins symptoms
Varicose veins can be symptomatic and almost hidden. In the first case, the symptoms of varicose veins are as follows:
- discomfort and pain in the lower extremities;
- swelling in the ankles;
- burning or throbbing sensation in the legs;
- seizures that occur mostly at night or at night;
- itching at the site of the dilated vein;
- rapid leg fatigue;
- skin color changed.
These symptoms become more pronounced at night, at the end of the working day, during the hot season, and after a person has been standing for a long time. With hidden varicose veins, there are no outward signs of varicose veins, but there is pain in the legs.
As a rule, pain in the lower extremities is severe and located deep in the legs. Often, the pain can signal phlebitis (inflammation of the veins) and the formation of blood clots. The development of thrombophlebitis is accompanied by an increase in body temperature.
A dilated vein may burst, and then a bruise occurs where the affected vessel passes. Skin ulcers can occur even after minor skin damage. Varicose vein ulcers are usually small, superficial, and painful.
The danger of phlebitis, thrombosis and ulcers in varicose veins of the legs is that they lead to the development of small, thin-walled blisters on the ankles. These blisters are easily damaged and bleed. During sleep, blisters can burst, which can lead to minor bleeding.
Varicose veins of the lower extremities lead to other cutaneous and vascular pathologies:
- lymphadenopathy. An enlarged vein can damage the vessels in the lymphatic system, which transport and eliminate toxins and metabolic products. In addition, damage to the lymph vessels can lead to lymphedema, in which swelling of the lower extremities occurs;
- dermatitis, which is accompanied by itching and rash in the area of varicose veins. Most often, the rash is located on the lower leg and ankle joint. Dermatitis can lead to minor bleeding, skin irritation and infection.
How to treat varicose veins?
If the symptoms of varicose veins are mild, it is enough to take preventive measures that a phlebologist will prescribe (treat diseases of the veins). But when varicose veins cause discomfort such as pain, cosmetic defect, leg fatigue, swelling or changes in skin color, therapy is required, which consists of the following methods:
- compression socks, which moderately compress the legs and veins of the lower extremities so that blood does not become stagnant in them. Compression stockings can help relieve pain and swelling. Socks must be worn for at least 6 months for symptoms to disappear. In addition, the use of socks should be combined with regular physical activity, in which the legs are more involved: running, gym equipment, cycling;
- radio frequency removal. This is a minimally invasive method: a disposable catheter is inserted into the vein, which heats up and causes the vein to collapse. As a result, the vein closes and venous blood flows to the heart through healthy veins;
- sclerosing therapy. The doctor injects a drug that turns the part of the vein into connective tissue, which causes the lumen of the vein to close and blood to be transported through neighboring healthy vessels;
- surgical methodsinvolving ligation or complete removal of the affected vein.
How to treat varicose veins in the legs in women?
The treatment of varicose veins does not depend on sex: in women it is the same as in men. However, there are features of therapy in pregnant women. Varicose veins in pregnant women increase the risk of obstetric and vascular complications, can lead to an unstable pregnancy and increase the incidence of toxicosis in pregnant women. Therefore, special attention is paid to the treatment of varicose veins in pregnant women.
Surgical treatment is used in extreme cases, when varicose veins are accompanied by venous insufficiency and complications, such as the formation of trophic ulcers or thrombotic pathologies. Microinvasive methods such as sclerotherapy and radiofrequency ablation are contraindicated during pregnancy. In addition, women during pregnancy are rarely prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory and hormonal agents.
The main method of treating varicose veins in women is conservative therapy in the form of compression (compression stockings) in combination with drugs that improve the nutrition of the walls of blood vessels (phlebotropic agents). If compression therapy is ineffective, doctors prescribe drugs that do not penetrate the placenta and do not affect the fetus.
Varicose Veins Complications
Untreated varicose veins can be complicated by trophic ulcers, acute thrombophlebitis, and bleeding from the affected veins.
Trophic ulcers are most often formed on the inner surface of the leg and above the ankle. The first signs of ulcer development are dermatitis: the skin becomes inflamed and itchy. Then, single and multiple small painful sores form, from which pus or inflammatory fluid is secreted in small amounts.
In acute thrombophlebitis, seals appear in the superficial veins, accompanied by pain and redness along the vein. A patient with acute thrombophlebitis has difficulty walking due to discomfort and pain in the legs. A thrombosed vein can rupture. Then there is profuse bleeding, which leads to massive blood loss.
varicose veins prevention
To prevent varicose veins in men and women, you need to follow the recommendations. The most effective tips and methods:
- always prefer physical activity to immobility, for example, instead of the elevator, go up the stairs alone, if you need to walk 1-2 stops, do not get on the transport and walk;
- watch your weight - excess body weight is a triggering factor for varicose veins;
- a mobile lifestyle is the key to preventing varicose veins. However, physical activity must be reasonable. It is not recommended to practice weight lifting, because lifting weights puts a lot of pressure on the legs and leads to stagnation of blood in them. The best sports for the lower extremities are running, cycling, swimming, aerobics. Choose an activity that involves your lower leg and ankle, such as soccer or skiing.
- if you have a sedentary lifestyle, get up from your chair every 40 minutes and do a little warm-up: sit 5-10 times or just walk;
- choose comfortable shoes without high heels, try to walk barefoot as often as possible;
- walk for at least 30 minutes a day, at least 3-4 times a week;
- if you work standing up, buy compression socks and wear them while you work. So you tone the veins of the lower extremities and the blood doesn't get stagnant in them.
If your legs hurt for no apparent reason, there is fatigue and swelling, and curved blue or purple veins appear on the skin, you may have varicose veins in your lower extremities. Do not delay treatment and consult a doctor for advice and diagnosis.