There are blood vessels in the body, so-called veins, that lead the blood back to the heart. In the legs, it is mainly the leg muscles that pump back the blood, for example when walking. Inside the veins of the legs are flaps, which act as valves for the blood to flow smoothly back to the heart. If a vein becomes very enlarged and winding, due to leaky flaps, it is called varicose veins.
Varicose veins are usually due to the flaps working worse or the walls of the veins become weak and expanding. This causes the pressure in the veins to increase. Then the veins expand and become even more winding and visible.
Varicose veins are very common and every third adult has this in some form. Inheritance, hormones, and pregnancy can be contributing causes of varicose veins in the legs. Women get varicose veins slightly more often than men. Occasionally, varicose veins may be a result of having a blood clot in the leg previously. If you get varicose veins, they rarely disappear by themselves with the exception of certain varicose veins during pregnancy.
Varicose veins are not dangerous, but if you have had varicose veins for many years, there is an increased risk of getting leg swelling, eczema or leg ulcers. This can be prevented with support socks or compression socks.
Symptoms of varicose veins in the legs
Sometimes you can have varicose veins without being visible, but often they appear as bluish, lumpy elevations. They do not have to give any symptoms, but if you have symptoms it may be, for example
- one gets swollen in the leg
- the skin around the varicose itch
- it aches when touched
- it hurts your leg if you stand or sit for a long time
- one feels weight or tension in the leg.
If the swelling is not treated, you may later get a brownish discoloration, eczema or difficult healing leg ulcers.
Treatment for varicose veins in the legs
You can relieve the symptoms of varicose veins in the legs, for example, by walking and moving, and avoid sitting for too long moments, for example at work. It is good to sit with your legs high, for example having them on a stool or chair, as often as you can.
If the legs or varicose veins are swollen, you can also raise the legs in bed at night with the help of pillows, for example. You should also avoid clothing, socks, and shoes that sit on your legs. This is especially true of those who lace up in a small area.
An elastic support stocking, or a more robust model called compression stocking, relieve the trouble by providing an even pressure that counteracts the swelling of the leg. The sock provides support so that the varicose veins are compressed, which reduces the risk of leg swelling.
Sometimes, if you have obvious symptoms, varicose veins in your legs may need to be corrected. There are several treatment options besides surgery.
When to seek care?
You can contact a health care center if you have problems with your varicose veins. Especially if the bone is swollen or if you have skin changes, such as brown pigmentation or eczema and if you get ulcers.