What Is Vein Disease?
Often not even mentioned at your doctor’s office, vein disease afflicts more than 30 million Americans. Symptoms include painful, heavy, achy, tired, restless and burning feeling in the legs. Swelling and changes in your skin are common symptoms, as well. Often associated with varicose veins, vein disease often presents itself in patients with no visible signs of varicose veins. Although perceived as merely a cosmetic issue, it is a progressive disease in which symptoms often worsen over time. Vein disease can negatively affect your quality of life if left untreated.
Symptoms of Vein Disease
Easily visible through the skin, spider veins appear purple and blue. They are usually visible on the legs but are occasionally seen on the face, as well. Unlike varicose veins, spider veins usually do not cause any serious medical problems and are considered a cosmetic issue.
Sclerotherapy, a minimally invasive, in-office procedure, helps to treat spider veins. A solution is injected into the affected vein which causes the vein to dissolve, thereby resolving the problem. Recovery is immediate.
This procedure is typically not covered by insurance.
Varicose veins usually look dark blue, swollen, and twisted under the skin. Many patients develop symptoms over time that include pain, burning, heaviness, and aching that often curtails normal activities. These enlarged veins may look and feel better when the affected leg is elevated, however they become enlarged again while standing or walking. If left untreated, they may progress to more serious conditions such as leg swelling, discoloration or leg ulcers. Venous Reflux (venous insufficiency) is a condition in the lower extremities where blood flow back to the heart is interrupted because the tiny valves are no longer functioning properly, resulting in blood pooling in the legs and extending the veins. Many patients often go untreated because they may not be familiar with vein disease. The pain often progresses through the day and is worse in the evening. Symptoms may also increase during menstruation. Successful treatment of varicose veins can alleviate these symptoms.
Leg swelling occurs because of an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the tissues of the lower extremity. The medical term for leg swelling from excessive fluid in the tissues is edema and is often a symptom of vascular insufficiency, the underlying cause of varicose veins. Edema typically causes swelling around the ankle and then spreads to the lower leg. Swelling will typically worsen during the day, then subside when the leg is elevated.
Skin discoloration usually occurs during more advanced stages of venous disease associated with varicose veins. Inflammation can cause some initial redness, and, as blood continues to pool under the skin, the breakdown of red blood cells causes the skin damage to advance and take on a tan or reddish-brown appearance.
Skin discoloration is often first noticeable around the ankles or low calves, but also frequently occurs over the shins and on the feet.
Skin discoloration that worsens can change from a reddish color to tan or reddish-brown color, and the skin can become painful, hardened, and scar-like. While it may take years of untreated venous disease for skin discoloration to worsen to such a degree, it can also occur suddenly and without warning.
Active Venous Stasis Ulcer
The most severe stage of vein disease is an active leg ulcer or non-healing open wound. An active venous stasis ulcer will occur in the lower leg and can range in size from small to quite large. These ulcers are usually painful and can become infected. Many patients report severe pain while performing even simple activities like walking or standing.
Not usually identified as symptoms of venous insufficiency, venous stasis ulcers often go untreated or ineffectively treated as a wound. Without proper blood flow to the lower extremity, venous ulcers won’t heal using topical medical treatements. At Milligan Vein Clinic, we have great success treating this debilitating condition.