Varicose Veins

What are the symptoms of varicose veins?

The most recognizable sign of varicose veins is a gnarled, blue or purple vein just under your skin’s surface. Symptoms include:

  • Bulging veins:
    Twisted, swollen, rope-like veins are often blue or purple. They appear just below the surface of the skin on your legs, ankles and feet. They can develop in clusters. Tiny red or blue lines (spider veins) may appear nearby.
  • Heavy legs:
    Muscles in your legs may feel tired, heavy or sluggish, especially after physical activity.
  • Itching:
    The area around varicose veins may itch.
  • Pain:
    Legs may be painful, achy or sore, especially behind your knees. You might have muscle cramps.
  • Swelling:
    Your legs, ankles and feet can swell and throb.
  • Skin discolorations and ulcers:
    If left untreated, varicose veins can cause brown discolorations on your skin. Severe varicose veins can cause venous ulcers (sores) on your skin.

Where do varicose veins usually appear?

Most often, varicose veins develop on the lower half of your body, usually on your calves, ankles and feet. They can also develop in the pelvic area (pelvic congestion syndrome), especially in people who have had children. Varicose veins in the testicles (varicocele) can lead to infertility.

What causes varicose veins?

Varicose veins occur when the walls of your veins weaken. As blood pressure in your vein increases, the weakened walls allow your vein to get bigger. As your vein stretches, the valves that keep blood moving in one direction in your vein can’t work like they should. Sluggish blood backs up or pools in your vein, causing your vein to swell, bulge and twist. Vein walls and valves can become weak for several reasons, including:

Anyone can develop varicose veins. Certain factors increase your chances of developing varicose veins, including:

  • Hormones
  • The aging process
  • Excess weight
  • Restrictive clothing
  • Pressure inside the vein from standing for long periods

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