Vein disease, also known as venous disease, venous reflux or vein insufficiency, describes an impairment of the veins’ ability to transport deoxygenated blood to the heart. While hypothetically it can occur anywhere, it is most common in the legs. Veins in the legs have to work against gravity to carry blood to the heart.
Vein disease is progressive and not truly curable, but it can be treated. It is also very common; it is believed to affect 50 percent of the population in the US. It affects men and women of all ages.
What Causes Vein Disease?
Veins have valves that open and close. When they are working properly, the valves open to permit blood flow and close to prevent blood from going backwards. In vein disease, the valves stop working properly, and blood collects in the veins and causes increasing pressure on them.
What Are the Symptoms?
Varicose veins develop during the early stages of vein disease. They are enlarged and distended veins that appear just beneath the skin. They typically look like thick blue cords. They can also be painful. Spider veins also indicate early-stage vein disease. As the name suggests, they look like a spider’s web. Spider veins are usually blue or purple.
The early stages of vein disease are generally not painful. If it goes untreated, though, it will worsen and the patient will usually start to experience pain. Typically, the patient will feel fatigue and/or pain that grows worse throughout the day or after standing for a long time.
Elevating the legs generally relieves the pain. Some people also develop cramps in their legs, especially if they’ve been standing for a long time.
Over time, the patient’s legs will start to swell, and the swelling might be accompanied by aches, itching or restless leg syndrome. Chronic swelling increases the chances of the patient developing cellulitis or phlebitis.
Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that can make the skin swollen and tender. Phlebitis is caused by blood clots in the superficial veins, and it can be extremely painful.
Untreated vein disease can eventually damage the skin, and certain skin conditions can indicate advanced and neglected vein disease. In lipodermatosclerosis, the skin becomes abnormally thick. Blood leaking from the veins into the skin eventually causes it to turn brown. A patient might also develop eczema, which causes the skin to become scaly and red.
Ulcers are another sign of advanced vein disease. They are caused by blood leaking into the skin, which damages the tissues. That tissue damage causes ulcers or wounds. They can be itchy or painful, and they won’t heal until the vein disease itself is treated.
Learn More Today
If you or someone you love is suffering from vein disease, there are various treatment options available. Serving the Chicago area, the Advanced Vein and Laser Centre in Libertyville offers numerous safe and effective treatment options, including sclerotherapy, endovenous chemical ablation, VeinGogh® and more.
Contact our office today to schedule your appointment to learn more about how our innovative treatments can improve your vein disease symptoms.