About Vein Disease80 million Americans suffer from varicose veins or spider veins. Learn about vein disease, compare treatment alternatives, hear what other patients are saying, and contact us to schedule a consultation.
CausesUnavoidable underlying causes of chronic venous insufficiency that can lead to varicose veins and spider veins include an inherited genetic predisposition and the normal aging process. Any condition that puts more pressure on leg veins – including standing for long periods of time, being overweight, or pregnancy – can also cause varicose veins or spider veins. Women are at greater risk than men due to hormonal changes that relax vein walls during pregnancy, pre-menstruation or menopause. Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy may also increase the risk, as do a history of blood clots and conditions that increase pressure in the abdomen, such as tumors, constipation and tight garments like girdles. Other factors include previous venous surgery and exposure to ultraviolet rays.
SymptomsVaricose veins and spider veins appear most commonly between the ages of 30 and 70. The first physical symptom is usually their appearance. As the disease progresses, the legs begin to feel heavy, tired and achy, and these symptoms worsen with prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Muscle cramping may be accompanied by a burning and throbbing feeling in the lower legs. Chronic venous insufficiency that causes varicose and spider veins can also cause a change in skin color (known as stasis pigmentation), dry and thinning skin, inflammation of the skin, open sores and bleeding. Since it is a progressive disease, it is likely that symptoms will worsen over time. Typically, it is beneficial to get symptomatic veins treated as early in the process as possible to avoid painful ulceration and difficult to treat hyperpigmentation. Our patients have many treatment options, which can be classified as either supportive measures or corrective measures. The best way to get temporary relief of your symptoms is to maintain an active lifestyle, including:
- Elevation: Relax and put your legs up whenever you can.
- Exercise: Walk frequently or have a low impact workout at the gym.
- Elastic support hose: Wear support hose to take the stress off your veins.
- Emollient skin care: Soothing emollient lotions help reduce itching.
- Electrolytes: Watch the amount of sodium intake to help decrease water retention.
- Evaluation: Talk to your doctor about your lifestyle, and ways to better cope with the degree of venous disease involved.