Varicose vein pain is real and can affect your legs and other parts of your body negatively. Learn how these veins affect your pain levels.
Did you know that a quarter of the adult population deal with varicose veins? That means about 1.9 billion people have these enlarged, blood-filled veins. But there’s more to them than just their unsightly reddish or blue-purple color; they can also be painful.
Varicose veins, although more common in women, can affect men as well. In most cases, they appear on the lower legs, causing varicose vein pain due to improper functioning. The pain can be so severe that they can already limit one’s mobility and day to day life.
Pain in the vein caused by varicosities isn’t something you should treat lightly. Although these inflamed veins can be a simple aesthetic flaw, they can already indicate a more serious underlying health condition.
It’s for this reason you should learn more about varicose veins and the possible reasons they cause pain. And that’s exactly what you’ll learn in this post.
How Does One Get Varicose Veins?
When your veins don’t function at their peak, you’re at risk of developing varicose veins. If you’re unsure of how efficiently your veins function, it’s a good idea to undergo vein screening. This is especially true if you have a family history of varicose veins.
Vein malfunction happens when the valves of the vein responsible for preventing blood backflow start to fail. This means that the blood goes back into the veins. So, rather than flowing towards the heart, it instead pools up in the veins.
This blood accumulation in the veins is what causes them to enlarge.
Varicose veins can occur due to a number of causes, including the following:
- Age (People over 50 or those in their menopausal stage often suffer from these inflamed veins)
- Overweight and obesity
- Genetics (Having family members who’ve had varicose veins puts you at higher risk of also developing them
- Being on your feet all the time.
As previously mentioned, you’ll most often notice varicose veins affecting your legs. This is because of your veins’ location (being farthest from the heart), coupled with the pull of gravity. This combination then poses serious challenges for your blood to flow properly and efficiently towards your heart.
What That Pain in the Vein Really Means
Varicose veins, for many, are just unsightly marks. Until they start feeling vein pain. Painful veins often appear as a symptom of certain health conditions that go beyond aesthetic issues.
Be on your toes when it comes to pain in the vein. This is especially true if you experience symptoms often associated with spider veins. However, the thought alone of constantly suffering from pain, whether it’s only a dull, tugging ache or something more debilitating, should already make you concerned.
Why Pain in the Vein Occurs in the First Place
Vein pain can be a sign of a more serious vascular condition or deep vein thrombosis. But even when it’s caused by a condition only minor in nature, such as cellulitis, it’s still something you want looked at and treated right away.
To help you further understand why seeking professional medical help is worth it, let’s take a look at the potential culprits behind the pain in your veins.
This is a common type of skin infection caused by bacteria. And while it’s more of a skin problem than a venous concern, it usually comes with DVT-like symptoms. Aside from vein pain, cellulitis may also cause swelling (that’s warm to the touch) in the affected area.
Keep in mind that improper vein drainage and varicose veins makes it easier for bacteria to gain entry to your body through even the smallest skin injury. Left undiagnosed and untreated, this can be a long-term, life-threatening ailment.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
This condition, also commonly referred to as venous reflux, occurs when the valves and vein walls fail to close and send the blood on its way to the heart. When they don’t close properly, there’s no other direction for the blood to go but backwards. As a result, the blood builds up and pools inside the veins.
Aside from resulting in the formation of varicose veins on your legs, this can also cause pain in the affected area and even the entire leg where the faulty veins are.
Pulmonary embolism happens when a blood clot finds its way into the lungs, causing a blockage there. It is often a medical emergency because of its life-threatening properties.
Another blood clot-induced inflammation, superficial thrombophlebitis occurs when the swelling affects a vein right below the skin’s surface. Along with vein pain, this condition can also result in the redness and/or soreness of the affected area.
Varicose and/or Spider Veins
Weakened blood vessel walls lead to vein swelling, which in turn causes the formation of varicose and spider veins. Their colors (reddish, bluish, or purplish), combined with their tendency to cluster together, make them even more obvious. Again, some people only find them a minor aesthetic issue, but for many others, they become more of a health concern due to the pain that comes with them.
Beware: Vein Pain Can Have Complications
Although vein pain is typically mild and results from poor blood circulation, you can’t discount the possibility of a blood clot or other more serious conditions. Keep in mind that major health issues can exhibit pain in the vein as a form of complication, including the following:
- Adverse body responses to certain types of treatment
- Chronic venous insufficiency
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Pulmonary lung embolism
- Heart attack
- Myocardial infarction
- Postphlebitic syndrome
Even if these complications don’t occur, leaving your vein condition undiagnosed and untreated can aggravate the symptoms you’re already experiencing.
Getting Your Varicose Veins Diagnosed
Early diagnosis of your varicose veins can make a huge difference in how effective your treatment will be. Don’t forget to mention the vein pain you experience, as well as any other symptom you usually feel alongside the pain.
To test how efficient the blood flow is in your veins, your doctor may suggest you undergo an ultrasound. This is a non-invasive (which means pain-free) test that can detect blood flow with high-frequency sound waves. It can also discover any potential blockage or clots.
Your Prevention and Treatment Options for Varicose Veins
Many cases of varicose veins only require conservative treatment. Your doctor most definitely will advise you to kick bad health habits. He/she will also advise you to start making certain changes to your lifestyle.
Here’s what you need to know about varicose vein prevention and treatment:
Changes to Health Habits and Lifestyle
To prevent aggravating existing varicose veins or even their formation in the first place, you should try the following:
- Keep those hours of standing to a minimum
- Achieve a healthy, normal weight
- Engage in more physical activities for better circulation
- Use quality compression socks or stockings
- Make it a habit to put your legs up while you rest or sleep
These practices can help you prevent the development of new varicose veins. They can also prevent your existing ones from worsening. Take note though, these usually work great for people with minor vein problems.
Keep doing your healthier habits even if they won’t work on minimizing the appearance and symptoms of varicose vein pain. However, you may already want to consider opting for surgical procedures if the pain already causes limited movement or brings down your overall health.
Although these surgical procedures, such as vein ligation and stripping, are invasive, they are an effective treatment option for painful varicose veins. Just prepare yourself for the surgery, since this requires going under anesthesia and removal of the affected veins through incisions.
Seeing a vascular surgeon should be your top priority when dealing with painful varicose veins. This doesn’t automatically mean you require surgery, but such medical professionals have an in-depth understanding of vein-related diseases. They can also perform minimally-invasive treatments that can help with vein problems.
Just a few of these non-surgical vein treatment procedures include the following:
- Endoscopic vein surgery
- Endovenous ablation therapy
- Laser surgery
Varicose veins, with or without pain, is something you should talk to a doctor about for help. With so many different treatment options, you’re sure to find one that meets your preferences. An experienced vascular surgeon can be of great help in choosing the correct treatment method.
Don’t Let Vein Pain Make Living Seem in Vain
Vain pain, not to mention the unsightly appearance of varicose veins, can have a drastic effect on your life and well-being. It can cause more than physical pain; it can also affect your self-confidence. So, it’s important that as early as now, you already consult with a medical professional who can help.
Whether you’re ready to undergo surgery or would want the less-invasive path to freeing yourself of varicose veins, know that our vein experts can help. Take the first step now and contact us now to schedule a consultation.