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Jeffery P. Schoonover, MD

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are large, ropey, and twisting blue vessels, which appear in the skin anywhere from the thigh to the foot. They are most often the result of leaking and incompetent valves in the superficial saphenous veins. These abnormal valves allow blood to flow retrograde back down the legs and into all of the skin veins. The repeated reflux causes high vein pressures, resulting in veins, which enlarge and twist over time. Leg pain associated with varicose veins is usually due to swelling of the veins and of the surrounding tissues. Phlebitis develops when one or more of these veins develop a blood clot, usually when the patient is inactive. A painful and red lump where varicose veins are located is nearly always a sign of phlebitis.

The actual cause of varicose veins is inefficient, faulty vein valves. These valves don’t close properly, allowing blood to leak back with gravity and pool in the vein. This causes the veins to bulge and stretch and result in many unpleasant side effects such as:

  • Aching and throbbing pain
  • Itching
  • Numbness
  • Heavy and tired legs
  • Poor circulation
  • Night cramps
  • Restless Leg Syndrome

Heredity is a primary factor in over 80% of varicose vein cases. Other contributing factors may include pregnancy, obesity, hormone therapy, standing or sitting for long periods of time and injury.

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