Varicose veins occur when vein valves malfunction and a condition called Chronic Venous Insufficiency develops. When vein valves fail, the blood begins to pool. This is what causes varicose veins to enlarge and become bluish-purple in colour. Although any vein can become varicose, veins in legs are most vulnerable. And that is due to the pressure of carrying our body weight while walking and standing.
Additionally, veins in the legs are under more strain (than veins in other parts of the body) because they carry blood from the feet to the heart. And this is the longest distance that blood has to travel!
Most of the blood flow from the legs is handled by deep veins, located under layers of muscle and fat. Their size often means they can resist against CVI, however that is not true for the smaller superficial veins (those close to the skin surface).
Damage to these veins can produce the following symptoms:
- An aching or heavy sensation in your legs.
- Burning, throbbing, or muscle cramping,
- Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time.
- Itching around one or more of your veins.
- Chronic swelling in your lower legs. We’ll discuss this in more depth below.
How does swelling in the legs affect your overall health?
If you have varicose veins and have experienced swollen legs and ankles, you will know how uncomfortable they can be. The swelling can make it painful to walk or stand for long periods of time, often leaving patients feeling debilitated.
Chronic swelling is a common symptom of vein disease. If your veins are damaged from Chronic Venous Insufficiency, it means an important part of your body’s circulatory system is failing. Aside from the development of varicose veins, CVI can have a negative impact on your mental health due to the persistent pain and decrease in mobility.
Additionally, the symptoms of varicose veins can interrupt sleep. Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. Indeed, it helps in the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Also, it can be a very painful time for many varicose vein sufferers as leg aches and pains often get worse during the night when your body is relaxed.
Read more: What causes foot and leg pain?
What can you do about swollen legs and ankles?
The first thing you should do if you suffer from swollen legs and ankles is to find out what the cause is. And this is as simple as scheduling a venous health screening at The Vein Institute. We will perform a medical examination using state-of-the-art venous duplex ultrasound and can tell you in a few minutes whether the swelling is caused by your varicose veins or not. If it is, our experts can tell you what the different treatment options are, and help you to select the ones best suited to you.
If you are looking for non-surgical options for the treatment of varicose veins, check out The Vein Institute Shop.