Varicose veins of the lower extremities - the appearance of spider veins (thread) and dilated saphenous veins on the legs. The disease, which is prevalent in the adult population, is more common in women than in men.
The disease received this name when translated from Latin, literally means: bloating, expansion.
The first sensations with this disease are very different for each patient, but the feeling of heaviness in the legs, rapid fatigue, aching pains along the vein unites everyone.
Treatment should be chosen by an experienced doctor who can objectively assess the stage and development of the disease.
The pathology, which is often only a cosmetic defect, can nevertheless, in some cases, lead to serious complications and persistent disability.
What are varicose veins, the mechanisms of development of pathology
Some people after 40 years of age may be faced with a rather unpleasant situation - the appearance of varicose veins on the legs. Small purple vessels that penetrate the skin, woven into spider webs or resembling a densely branched tree, are a serious cosmetic problem for many, especially for women. Vascular networks "out of nowhere" (in medicine, the term telangiectasia is used) are the expansion of tiny veins less than 1 millimeter in diameter located in the thickness of the skin. This is one of the signs that a person has varicose veins on their legs.
If knots start to protrude above the surface of the skin, soft to the touch, which become more noticeable when a person is standing, then we can speak of another manifestation. This is already a more serious pathology - varicose enlargement of the large and small saphenous veins, as well as their branches.
The veins in the legs are soft, thin-walled channels that return blood to the heart. In order to counter the force of gravity, nature has provided them with valves, which prevent the back flow (back flow) of blood. There are two venous systems on the lower limbs: superficial and deep. The first is represented by the vessels that are under the skin, so that they can be seen. The second is the deep veins of the legs, located next to the bones in the thickness of the muscles. There are communications between these systems - the perforator veins.
The inability of the valves to perform their function leads to stagnation of blood in the lower parts, the outflow of its "excess" through the perforating veins from the deep to the superficial. This, in turn, creates increased pressure in the venous system of the legs, located under the skin. What makes his ships react to this is "squirm and lie down. "And that is why varicose veins in the legs occur.
Reasons for development
Many conditions lead to valve damage and loss of elasticity in the vascular wall. There are decisive causes of varicose veins in the legs, which are most often associated with this disease:
- Age. Over the years, our veins lose their elasticity and begin to dilate. Valves, also "coarse", lose their elasticity and cease to perform their normal function.
- Pregnancy is accompanied by an increase in the volume of blood in the body, and also helps to slow down its movements in the lower extremities (the large uterus presses on the veins of the small pelvis). Changes in hormonal levels during pregnancy also play a role. Usually, symptoms of varicose veins without treatment go away within 12 months of giving birth.
The resulting telangiectasias (or, as many doctors mistakenly call them, varicose veins), the causes of the appearance of the face and legs are often associated with exposure to solar radiation. Therefore, women who want to avoid this cosmetic problem must choose between a beautiful tan or a vascular mesh.
Varicose veins are a multifactorial pathology.
- Ground. Women are more likely to develop this disease. Hormonal imbalances that occur during pregnancy, premenstrual period, and menopause can be considered a risk factor because they relax the venous wall for a long time. Hormone replacement therapy or long-term use of birth control pills also increases the risk of getting varicose veins.
- Standing or prolonged sitting position (office workers, surgeons, drivers).
- Alcohol abuse. Alcohol and varicose veins also have a definite link.
Symptoms and diagnosis
At first, the disease may not cause any discomfort, it can be suspected when the following symptoms appear:
- the formation of spider veins, threads on the legs (expansion of intradermal vessels of pink, blue, purple);
- the veins "twist", protruding from the surface of the skin, like cords, interrupted by knots.
Later, the following symptoms may join:
- tired legs;
- burning, palpitations, muscle cramps and swelling of the lower limbs;
- worsening of the manifestations of the disease if a person is standing or sitting for a long time;
- itching around the "swollen" vessels;
- bleeding varicose veins;
- painful local hardening of the vascular site;
- changes in skin color or ulceration in the ankle area.
The disease is diagnosed on the basis of data obtained during the examination and questioning of the patient. To assess the severity of the pathology (valve function, presence of a blood clot in the veins), Doppler ultrasound is usually sufficient.
If a diagnosis of "varicose veins of the legs" is made, this does not mean that a long hospital stay is necessary. Thanks to modern minimally invasive procedures, the pathology is usually treated on an outpatient basis.
Change your lifestyle or help yourself
There are several self-help methods that reduce the discomfort of varicose veins and help prevent other varicose veins. Here are a few :
- Regular exercise. Move around as much as possible. Regular walking is a great physical activity that can improve blood circulation in your legs. What load will be optimal - you can ask your doctor about this.
- Constant control of your weight, excess of which has a detrimental effect on the vessels of the legs. Do not forget about salt, excess supply of which in the body causes water retention, which increases the load on the veins.
- Be careful what you wear. Shoes with low heels, unlike high heels, work the musculo-venous pump in the legs - the gastrocnemius muscle. Avoid wearing tight pants around the groin and waist as this can interfere with blood circulation.
- Keep your feet elevated as often as possible. To do this, several times a day, you need to take breaks and raise your legs above heart level, for example, lie down and put them on pillows.
- Avoid sitting or standing for a long time.
Usually, the initial stages of varicose veins of the lower extremities are treated with compression stockings. External compression prevents the veins from swelling, which improves the flow of blood through the vessels.
Additional treatments for a more serious situation
If lifestyle modification and use of compression stockings do not improve symptoms, and also if the stages of varicose veins (undercompensation and decompensation) do not cope with the condition on their own, The following treatment options come to the rescue:
- Sclerotherapy.The intervention, which does not require major anesthesia, is performed on an outpatient basis. The doctor injects a special substance (sclerosing agent) into the varicose veins, which sticks to the walls.
- Foam sclerotherapy.Unlike the usual technique, in this technique, the sclerosant is injected into a vein after mixing it with a gas (usually air), which allows larger diameter veins to be treated.
- Laser surgery. . . The new technology, which eliminates small varicose veins and vascular networks, is performed without skin incisions or piercing of vessels.
- Intravenous radiofrequency or laser ablation. . . A technique involving the introduction of a catheter into the lumen of a vein, at the end of which is a radiofrequency or laser energy emitter.
- Safeno-femoral ligation and stripping of the great saphenous vein. . . The first procedure is to bandage and remove the top part of the vein. During the second, a special probe is inserted into the lumen of the vessel (two incisions are previously made: one in the groin, the second in the upper third of the lower leg) and extends over its entire length. length. Then it is removed along with the dilated vein.
- Ambulatory phlebectomy. . . The doctor removes the small dilated veins, while making several micro-incisions in the skin. Scars are usually almost invisible.
- Endoscopic vein surgery. . . It is usually performed when the patient has an advanced stage of varicose veins of the lower extremities (ulcers appear) or the previous treatment methods were ineffective.
Varicose veins that appear during pregnancy usually go away without any treatment within 12 months of giving birth.
There is a large arsenal of alternative treatments for chronic venous insufficiency, a condition associated with varicose veins. The following remedies are most often used for this pathology:
- butcher's broom;
- grapes (leaves, juice, seed extract);
- horse chestnut;
- sweet clover.
Before using any herb or dietary supplement, you should make sure that these complementary medications are compatible with medications prescribed by your doctor and are safe for your specific situation. Therefore, before taking them, you should consult your doctor.
There is no universal and guaranteed way that could prevent the development of varicose veins on the legs. Nevertheless, there are preventive measures that help reduce the chances of getting further manifestations of the disease, improving its symptoms. Here are a few :
- Physical activity (regular sports, where the legs are "involved", eg walking or running, improves blood circulation in the lower limbs, strengthens blood vessels).
- Weight control (extra pounds increase the load on the lower limbs (pressure in the veins).
- Do not cross your legs while sitting.
- At rest, raise them above heart level.
- Try to avoid being in a standing or sitting position still.
- Diet (less salt and more fiber).
It is also worth rinsing your feet with cold water after a shower or bath. Try to visit baths or saunas less often.
Varicose veins on the legs are a widespread problem, the incidence in men ranges from 10-20% and in women it reaches 33%. Unfortunately, it is impossible to fully recover from this disease. But new, minimally invasive techniques used in medicine can improve symptoms. Early treatment in the early stages of the disease can prevent the development of serious complications.