Veins have valves that normally block or open blood flow in the vessels. Since the blood flow in the veins is directed from the tissues to the heart, the valves have the task of preventing venous blood from flowing back into the veins of the lower extremities.
When the elasticity of the vascular wall decreases and the vein expands, the valves do not regulate blood flow and varicose veins appear, which are characterized by the stagnation of venous blood in the veins. That is, the blood cannot be transported normally from the legs to the heart - it is constantly being delayed.
In varicose veins, the superficial veins in the legs turn blue or dark purple, appear lumpy, bulging, and misshapen. Varicose veins do not always bulge to the surface, as they can be located deep in the tissues of the lower extremities. Because of this, leg pain is often confusing to people as there is no obvious cause of the pain.
Varicose veins require treatment, as they can lead to thrombophlebitis - inflammation of the vein wall. With thrombophlebitis, blood clots form, if they get into the pulmonary circulation, a person can die from pulmonary embolism, in which a blood clot blocks vital vessels.
Causes of varicose veins
Varicose veins in the legs appear due to a decrease in the elasticity of the vein wall and valvular insufficiency. The following contribute to the development of varicose veins:
- sedentary lifestyle and long-term work. It often develops in office workers, weight lifters, dentists, and surgeons;
- hereditary predisposition;
- Female: Women suffer from varicose veins more often than men, since the "female" hormones estrogens have a negative effect on the vein wall. In addition, during pregnancy the pressure in the veins of the pelvis and lower extremities increases, so the risk of varicose veins in the lower extremities increases.
- congenital weakness of the vascular system;
- Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome, in which pathological messages are formed between arteries and veins, contributing to the reverse outflow of venous blood.
Symptoms of varicose veins
Varicose veins can be symptomatic and almost hidden. In the first case, the symptoms of varicose veins are as follows:
- Discomfort and aching pain in the lower extremities;
- swelling in the ankles;
- burning or throbbing sensation in the legs;
- cramps that occur mainly in the evening or at night;
- itching over the site of the dilated vein;
- rapid fatigue of the legs;
- changed skin color.
These symptoms are aggravated in the evening, at the end of the working day, in the warm season and after standing for a long time. With hidden varicose veins, there are no external signs of varicose veins, but there is pain in the legs.
Pain in the lower extremities is usually severe and localized deep in the legs. Pain can often indicate phlebitis (phlebitis) and the formation of blood clots. The development of thrombophlebitis is accompanied by an increase in body temperature.
An enlarged vein can burst, causing a bruise to form where the affected vessel runs. Ulcers on the skin can also appear after minor skin injuries. Typically, varicose ulcers are small, superficial, and painful.
The danger of phlebitis, thrombosis and ulcers in varicose veins of the legs is that they lead to the formation of small, thin-walled blisters on the ankles. These blisters are easily damaged and bleed. Blisters may burst during sleep, causing light bleeding.
Varicose veins of the lower extremities lead to other skin and vascular pathologies:
- Lymphadenopathy. An enlarged vein can damage the vessels in the lymphatic system, which carry and dispose of toxins and metabolic products. Damage to the lymph vessels can also lead to lymphedema, which is swelling of the lower extremities;
- dermatitis, which is accompanied by itching and a rash in the area of \u200b\u200bthe varicose veins. Most often, the rash is localized on the lower leg and ankle. Dermatitis can cause easy bleeding, skin irritation, and infection.
How do you treat varicose veins?
If the symptoms of varicose veins are mild, then it is enough to take preventive measures that a phlebologist will prescribe (treatment of venous diseases). But if varicose veins cause discomfort, such as pain, a blemish, fatigue in the legs, swelling or changes in skin color, then therapy is required, which consists of the following methods:
- compression stockings, which moderately compress the legs and veins of the lower extremities so that the blood does not stagnate in them. Compression stockings can reduce pain and swelling. Stockings must be worn for at least 6 months for the symptoms to subside. Also, wearing stockings should be combined with regular physical activity in which the legs are more involved: running, exercise machines, cycling;
- radio frequency ablation. This is a minimally invasive method: A disposable catheter is inserted into the vein, causing the vein to heat up and cause it to collapse. As a result, the vein closes and venous blood flows through healthy veins to the heart;
- sclerosing therapy. The doctor injects a drug that converts the portion of the vein into connective tissue, which closes the lumen of the vein and allows blood to flow through nearby healthy vessels;
- surgical methodsinvolving ligation or complete removal of the affected vein.
How to treat varicose veins in the legs in women?
The treatment of varicose veins does not depend on gender: it is the same for women as for men. However, there are features of therapy in pregnant women. Varicose veins in pregnant women increase the risk of obstetric and vascular complications, can lead to unstable pregnancy and increase the incidence of toxicosis in pregnant women. Therefore, special attention is paid to the treatment of varicose veins in pregnant women.
Surgical treatment is used in extreme cases, when varicose veins are accompanied by venous insufficiency and complications such as the formation of trophic ulcers or thrombotic pathologies. Microinvasive methods such as sclerotherapy and radiofrequency ablation are contraindicated during pregnancy. Also, during pregnancy, women are rarely prescribed hormonal agents and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
The main method of treating varicose veins in women is conservative therapy in the form of compression (compression stockings) in combination with drugs that improve the nutrition of the walls of blood vessels (phlebotropic agents). If compression therapy is ineffective, doctors prescribe drugs that do not penetrate the placenta and do not affect the fetus.
Complications of varicose veins
Untreated varicose veins can be complicated by trophic ulcers, acute thrombophlebitis, and bleeding from affected veins.
Trophic ulcers are most commonly formed on the inner surface of the lower leg and over the ankle. The first signs of the development of ulcers are dermatitis: the skin becomes inflamed and itchy. Then single and several small painful wounds are formed, from which small amounts of pus or inflammatory fluid are secreted.
With acute thrombophlebitis, sealing occurs on the superficial veins, accompanied by pain and redness along the vein. A patient with acute thrombophlebitis has difficulty walking due to discomfort and pain in the legs. A thrombosed vein can rupture. Heavy bleeding then occurs, leading to massive blood loss.
Prevention of varicose veins
To prevent varicose veins in both men and women, you must follow the recommendations. The most effective tips and methods:
- always prefer physical activity to immobility, e. g. B. climb the stairs instead of the elevator yourself, if you need to go 1-2 stops, do not get on any means of transport and walk.
- watch your weight - excess weight is a provoking factor for varicose veins;
- A mobile lifestyle is key to preventing varicose veins. However, the physical activity must be reasonable. It is not recommended to lift weights, since lifting weights puts a lot of pressure on the legs and leads to stagnation of blood in them. The best sports for the lower extremities are running, cycling, swimming, aerobics. Choose an activity that involves the lower leg and ankle, like soccer or skiing;
- If you have a sedentary lifestyle, get out of your chair every 40 minutes and do a small warm-up routine: sit or just walk 5-10 times;
- choose comfortable shoes without high heels, try to go barefoot as often as possible;
- Walk at least 30 minutes a day, at least 3-4 times a week;
- If you have a standing job, get compression stockings and wear them while you work. So you tone the veins of the lower extremities and the blood does not stagnate in them.
If your legs ache for no apparent reason, you experience fatigue and swelling, and curving blue or purple veins appear on your skin, you may have varicose veins in your lower extremities. Do not delay treatment and consult a doctor for advice and diagnosis.