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How do I know if my leg veins need medical attention?

This question was asked in Bakerville, Illinois and has 12 answer(s) as of 05/17/2013.
I'm a mother of 3 and have gone through pregnancy. I have varicose veins on my legs but I have not noticed any symptoms like heavy legs or tiredness. What would happen that would tell me that I need to get them treated?


Doctors Answers (12)

Varicose veins that do not have symptoms, with legs that have normal appearing skin over the shin and ankle area and minimal veins and swelling around the ankles are not uncommon and you do not need to treat the veins if they are not causing problems for you. Wearing medical grade support hose will help slow the progression of more varicose veins, especially if worn during future pregnancies and when you have to do prolonged standing at work or home. Not treating is an option, and when to treat is usually dictated by either symptoms or an undesirable appearance (cosmetic reasons).

I would be concerned if you develop symptoms of leg aching, heaviness, leg fatigue, night cramps, swelling or restless legs. If you are not having any symptoms I would proceed with conservative measures like walking and support stockings. If the veins worsen or start to cause you any trouble, then I would recommend an ultrasound to look at the underlying problem and determine if treatment is needed.

If you just have varicose veins you do not have to treat them. You should have them evaluated if your legs ache, swell, feel heavy tired, you have a phlebitis, bleeding vein or other problem. Otherwise, if they do not bother you, you do not need to treat them.

It is very easy to get used to the symptoms generated by your varicosities, especially if you're young, active and busy caring for your family. If you have bulging varicosities, the condition will worsen with time. You can develop superficial thrombophlebitis, skin discoloration, eczema, and other disturbances due to the chronically increased venous pressure. If left untreated, it will get worse as you age. You should seek the opinion of a vein expert to find the source of your venous reflux, and follow his recommendations. After you have been treated, your legs will feel a lot lighter and healthier.

Varicose veins will only get worse with time due to the continuous effect of gravity on your body. As we age, the gravitational effects of gravity on the blood cause high pressures in the veins of the legs which will cause them to enlarge. Over time, the failure of valves in the veins due to the stretching will result in blood flowing downward toward the feet with increasing pressures and a worsening cycle of stretching, valve failure, and worsening of varicose veins. The rate at which this happens depends mostly upon genetics, but obesity, pregnancy, and prolonged sitting or standing will accelerate the process. Treating varicose veins, even if they are not producing symptoms is a good idea for most people in order to slow down and partially reverse what gravity and genetics are doing to our venous system. Symptoms of pain, soft tissue tenderness, swelling at the ankles, or skin discoloration at the ankles are reasons to become concerned. Any of these should prompt an evaluation by a specialist in the care of venous disorders and a detailed venous color duplex ultrasound study is necessary to evaluate these complaints.

Chronic symptoms such as heaviness and tiredness along with other symptoms: itch, burning, numbness, restless, charlie horse and cramping are signs that treatment is needed.

If you have no symptoms such as tiredness, aching, swelling etc. you don't have to have them treated. Varicose veins do slightly increase the risk for a few health issues such as blood clots or phlebitis but the risk is very small so it is reasonable to wait until you have symptoms enough to justify the treatment.

A mother of 3 is probably very busy and does not have a lot of time to think whether or not you may have symptoms of venous reflux as a cause of your varicose veins. The symptoms can come on gradually and we are so busy that we do not take notice of problems. We just continue with our daily lives and chalk our problems up to being "normal". I would recommend finding a vein treatment center that occasionally offers a free screening examination, with ultrasound testing to see if you have underlying venous reflux. Our office checks mid portion of each great saphenous vein with ultrasound at our screening events. Then further discussion can be carried out with an individual.

Symptoms usually progress from visible varicosities to swelling and edema, fatigue, perhaps burning and itching, then redness around the ankle. If you need to prop your feet up at the end of the day to make them feel better, it is time to get treated.

Many people have varicose veins without symptoms. The presence of varicose veins alone does not warrant any treatment. If you have symptoms however this would be worth having a physician evaluate your legs. For now, the best treatment would be compression therapy to help reduce the likelihood of having a superficial vein clot. If you have any questions about your veins, it's not a bad idea to see someone even if you do not require treatment at this time.

When you start having symptoms such as pain, heaviness, cramps, fatigue, etc. Then treatment should be performed

Leg veins need medical treatment when you are symptomatic. Other symptoms include restless legs, night cramps, swelling, itching or rash. The only other considerations would be if you have had episodes of phlebitis, blood clots and inflammation in those varicose veins, or if you have skin discoloration or darkening; that tells us that blood cells have leaked out of the vessels because of high pressure. If you don't like how they look and want them fixed, then you should see a vein specialist who can go into detail about symptoms and may be able to offer treatment for cosmetic purposes if you have no symptoms. Treatment for varicose veins when you don't have any symptoms would be an out of pocket expense.

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