Veins have valves that normally block or open the flow of blood in the vessels. Since the flow of blood in the veins is directed from the tissues to the heart, the task of the valves 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 are characterized by stagnation of venous blood in the veins. That is, blood cannot be transported normally from the legs to the heart, it is constantly delayed.
In the case of varicose veins, the superficial leg veins turn blue or dark purple, appear bulging, bulging, and misshapen. Not always with varicose veins do they protrude to the surface, since they can 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 should be treated as they can lead to thrombophlebitis, an inflammation of the vein wall. With thrombophlebitis, blood clots form, if they enter the pulmonary circulation, a person can die of pulmonary embolism, in which a blood clot clogs vital vessels.
Causes of varicose veins
Varicose veins in the legs occur due to a decrease in the elasticity of the venous wall and valvular 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, since the "female" hormones estrogens negatively affect the vein wall. In addition, during pregnancy, the pressure in the veins of the pelvis and lower extremities increases, thereby increasing the risk of developing varicose veins in the lower extremities.
- congenital weakness of the vascular system;
- Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome, in which pathological messages are formed between the arteries and veins, contributing to the reverse outflow of venous blood.
Symptoms of varicose veins
Varicose veins can be symptomatic and almost hidden. In the first case, the symptoms of varicose veins are as follows:
- discomfort and aching pain in the lower extremities;
- ankle swelling;
- burning sensation or throbbing in the legs;
- seizures that occur mainly in the evening or at night;
- itching at the site of the dilated vein;
- rapid fatigue of the legs;
- skin color changed.
These symptoms become more pronounced at night, at the end of the working day, during the hot season, and after the person has been on their feet 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 localized deep in the legs. Often the pain can indicate phlebitis (inflammation of the veins) and the formation of blood clots. The development of thrombophlebitis is accompanied by an increase in body temperature.
An enlarged vein can burst and then bruise where the affected vessel passes through. Skin ulcers can occur, even after minor skin damage. Varicose vein ulcers are usually small, shallow, and painful.
The danger of phlebitis, thrombosis and ulcers in varicose veins of the legs is that they lead to the development of small blisters with thin walls on the ankles. These blisters are easily damaged and bleed. During sleep, the blisters may burst, which can lead to minor bleeding.
Varicose veins of the lower extremities give rise to other cutaneous and vascular pathologies:
- lymphadenopathy. An enlarged vein can damage the vessels of the lymphatic system, which carry and remove toxins and metabolic products. Also, damage to the lymphatic vessels can lead to lymphedema, in which swelling of the lower extremities occurs;
- dermatitis, which is accompanied by itching and skin rash in the varicose veins area. Most often, the rash is localized to the lower leg and ankle joint. Dermatitis can cause minor bleeding, skin irritation, and infection.
How to treat varicose veins?
If the symptoms of varicose veins are mild, it is enough to take the preventive measures that a phlebologist will prescribe (treats diseases of the veins). But when varicose veins cause discomfort, such as pain, a cosmetic defect, leg fatigue, swelling, or changes in skin color, therapy consisting of the following methods is needed:
- compression socks, which moderately compress the legs and the veins of the lower extremities so that the blood does not stagnate in them. Compression stockings can help relieve pain and swelling. Stockings must be worn for at least 6 months for symptoms to resolve. In addition, the use of tights should be combined with regular physical activity, in which the legs are more involved: running, exercise equipment, cycling;
- radiofrequency ablation. 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, as a result of which the lumen of the vein closes, and the blood is carried by 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 gender: 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 unstable pregnancy, and increase the incidence of toxicosis of 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. Also, women during pregnancy are rarely prescribed hormonal agents and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
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 not effective, doctors prescribe drugs that do not penetrate the placenta and do not affect the fetus.
Complications of varicose veins
Untreated varicose veins can be complicated by trophic ulcers, acute thrombophlebitis, and bleeding from the affected veins.
Trophic ulcers most often form on the inner surface of the lower leg and above the ankle. The first signs of developing ulcers are dermatitis: the skin becomes inflamed and itchy. Then single and multiple small painful sores are formed, from which pus or inflammatory fluid is secreted in small quantities.
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.
Prevention of varicose veins
To prevent varicose veins in men and women, you must 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 yourself, if you need to travel 1-2 stops, do not get on the transport and walk;
- control your weight: excess body weight is a factor that causes varicose veins;
- A mobile lifestyle is the key to varicose vein prevention. However, physical activity must be reasonable. It is not recommended to engage in 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 the lower leg and ankle, such as soccer or skiing;
- if you have a sedentary lifestyle, get up from the 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 have a standing job, get compression stockings and wear them while you work. This way you tone the veins of the lower extremities and the blood does not stagnate in them.
If your legs ache for no apparent reason, there is tiredness and swelling, and curved blue or purple veins appear on your skin, you may have varicose veins in your lower extremities. Do not delay treatment and consult a doctor for advice and diagnosis.