Healthy veins return blood to the heart so it can be re-oxygenated. One-way valves within the veins ensure that the blood flows in one direction, towards the heart. When valves fail or leak, the blood flows backwards, causing blood to pool in the veins. The increased pressure from the pooling stretches the vein, causing enlarged, twisted blood vessels. The resulting bumpy, rope like veins are varicose veins.
It normally takes years for symptoms of varicose veins to develop. While varicose veins are commonly inherited, anyone can get them. Hormonal changes brought on by puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can trigger the onset of varicose veins.
Varicose veins can cause swelling in the legs and feet, create a sense of fatigue in leg muscles, and cause leg throbbing or cramping. Often, the skin surrounding the varicose veins frequently itches and burns.
Left untreated, varicose veins can lead to swelling, increased pain, skin discoloration, and ulcerations of the lower legs. These ulcerations are difficult to treat and can become easily infected and painful. Many of these symptoms and complications can be prevented by early treatment of varicose veins.
Click here to learn about the treatment of varicose veins.