Experts estimate that approximately 20 percent of adults will develop varicose veins at some point in their lives.
Are you struggling with varicose veins right now? Have they become painful? Are they having a negative effect on your quality of life?
If you said “yes” to any of those questions, keep reading. Explained below is everything you need to know about painful varicose veins, as well as what causes them and how you can treat them.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins (also known as venous reflux) are veins that have become swollen, tangled, and discolored. It’s often easy to see them through the skin.
When a person is dealing with varicose veins, blood flows backward as a result of weakened valves. This, in turn, causes the blood to pool up, which stretches the walls of the vein and causes them to lose elasticity. The result is an enlarged, bulging vein.
Varicose veins occur most often in the legs. The legs are farther from the heart, and gravity makes it harder for blood to flow back to the heart with ease. People may also develop varicose veins in other areas, though, including the hands, face, and pelvis.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
The following are some specific symptoms you might experience alongside the presence of varicose veins:
- Aching in the legs
- Swelling of the feet and ankles
- Burning or throbbing sensation
- Muscle cramps, especially at night
- Itchy skin in the affected area
Fatigue is also common, along with a feeling of heaviness in the legs or other affected areas.
Risk Factors for Varicose Veins
Some people may be more prone to varicose veins than others, including those who fall into the following categories:
- Older adults
- Women, especially women who are pregnant
- Those with a family history of varicose veins
- Obese individuals
Folks who sit or stand for long periods of time also have a greater chance of developing varicose veins.
Why Do Varicose Veins Hurt?
Sometimes, varicose veins don’t hurt. They might be merely unsightly and irritating. In certain cases, though, they can cause severe pain and discomfort.
The following are some common issues that can cause varicose veins to become painful:
A common reason why you might experience painful varicose veins is a condition known as phlebitis. Phlebitis occurs when varicose veins get inflamed and form blood clots. Common symptoms of phlebitis include pain, heat, discoloration, and hardness of the veins.
In the event that a varicose vein bursts, blood, and toxins may pool up in the affected area and create a strong sense of pressure. Ulcers can develop, too, and skin tears may occur, all of which are very painful.
The development of varicose veins can sometimes trigger problems in other areas of the body, including the lymphatic system, which helps to remove waste and toxins from the body.
People with varicose veins may be more prone to lymphedema. Lymphedema is a condition that causes swelling throughout the body, often in the feet and toes.
Varicose veins can also be accompanied by dermatitis, an itchy and inflamed rash. This rash may appear in the areas affected by varicose veins. If left untreated, it can cause bleeding and painful skin ulcers.
Sometimes, varicose veins can cause the formation of a blood clot in the vein.
When the clot is close to the skin’s surface, it’s known as superficial thrombophlebitis. This condition can be very painful and can cause other problems in the area affected by the varicose veins.
Ways to Treat Painful Varicose Veins
As you can see, there’s a lot that can go wrong with varicose veins that can cause them to become painful and uncomfortable. The good news, though, is that there are many effective treatment options that can help, including the following:
Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT)
This is a common outpatient procedure for varicose veins. It involves the use of heat from lasers, which helps to shrink and close the affected veins.
After the vein is closed, blood gets rerouted to the remaining healthy veins. Eventually, the closed vein shrinks and gets absorbed by the body.
Radiofrequency Ablation treatment uses an electrical current (or radio-frequency energy) to heat and close the affected veins.
Similar to EVLT, the blood will get rerouted to healthy veins once the affected vein is closed. Over time, the closed vein shrinks and disappears altogether.
The VenaSeal procedure seals varicose veins and spider veins. It is a fast procedure with a very short recovery time. It also causes less bruising than some other treatment options.
For varicose veins that bulge near the skin’s surface, an ambulatory phlebectomy procedure can be a good option.
It involves making tiny, slit-like incisions to extract the veins from the affected area. This procedure requires a lot of precision to ensure the veins get removed safely. It does not cause much scarring due to the small size of the incisions.
Ambulatory phlebectomy is a good option for those whose varicose veins are too large for sclerotherapy treatments but considered too small for laser treatments.
Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy
UGS, which is short for Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy, can be used for varicose veins that are difficult to see through the skin. With the help of an ultrasound machine, physicians can ensure they’re locating and collapsing the correct veins.
Medical Sclerotherapy Treatment
Medical Sclerotherapy Treatment (or MST for short) is used for small varicose veins and spider veins located near the surface of the skin. It involves the injection of a solution into the veins so that they slowly decrease in size over time.
Get Help for Varicose Veins Today
You may be struggling with painful varicose veins now. That doesn’t mean you have to deal with them forever, though.
If you’re tired of being in pain or want to avoid potential complications caused by varicose veins, consider one of the treatment options discussed above. They’re all effective solutions that will help to reduce your pain and improve your quality of life tremendously.
If you want to learn more about them or schedule an appointment for a consultation, we can help at Veins VIP. Contact us today to get started.