Varicose veins in the legs, or varicose veins (from the Latin varicose veins - "swelling") are a disease of the blood vessels of the lower limbs, in which the flow of blood is disturbed due to a dysfunction of the venous valves: the veins dilate, lie down, begin to swell under the skin, nodules are formed. Varicose veins bring great discomfort due to edema, pain and dangerous formation of blood clots and trophic ulcers. This disease in severe cases, alas, can lead to disability.
This disease is extremely common - over 60% of the world's population suffers from it). It haunts humanity, apparently since the time of its appearance: varicose veins are mentioned in the Old Testament, archaeologists found during excavations in Egypt a mummy with a trophic ulcer on the leg with traces of treatment, Signs of varicose veins can be seen on the legs of ancient statues, and according to written evidence, the ancient physicians Avicenna and Hippocrates were researching methods to treat varicose veins. Scientists suggest that this is the price of mankind for walking upright, as this disease is much less common in other species.
Although women suffer from varicose veins more often than men - due to childbearing and hormonal problems during menopause - varicose veins in the legs in men often progress faster and have much more serious consequences. This is because so-called "male" jobs are often associated with regular heavy loads, and traditional stereotypes lead men to ignore minor aches and pains.
Causes of the disease
Since varicose veins in the legs are caused by excessive blood pressure in the vessels, the following factors, as well as congenital weakness of the connective tissue, may be the cause:
- to stand for a long time, to work while standing. Varicose veins of the legs are considered an occupational disease of waiters, as they have to walk with heavy trays, hairdressers and surgeons who have to do their work standing for many hours at a time;
- long sitting on a chair and long stays with bent legs, in which the vessels are pinched and blood circulation is impaired;
- pregnancy - a woman's weight increases quite quickly, and at the same time the pressure on the legs increases, hormonal changes during pregnancy also affect the walls of the veins;
- wearing tight tights, socks with an elastic band and the like;
- overloading the body during sports, during work associated with frequent weight lifting;
- dysfunctions of the endocrine system, as well as various hormonal disorders, which are a common cause of varicose veins on the legs in women;
- leg injuries, deformities of the feet.
Varicose veins of the legs
Varicose veins occur:
- Congenital.The probability of inheriting this disease from parents is more than 70%. Congenital varicose veins can appear at any age, but, as a rule, they appear at a young age, and in rare cases they even occur in infants. This form of the disease has additional unpleasant symptoms: a noticeable increase in one leg, sometimes hemangiomas (vascular tumors) appear throughout the body. Hereditary varicose veins can also appear on the veins of internal organs;
- Primary varicose veins.This type of disease develops as a result of the reasons listed above;
- secondary varicose veinsUsually begins as a complication of venous thrombosis or as a result of trauma.
The disease is usually divided into the following stages:
- 0- asymptomatic, when the disorders begin to appear at the cellular level, but do not yet manifest themselves in the form of formed symptoms;
- 1- the appearance of noticeable symptoms, which however still have little effect on the ability to work;
- 2- at this stage, severe edema becomes permanent, lymph nodes and trophic ulcers appear. A sick person cannot do without special supportive equipment during the day;
- 3- serious complications, invalidity.
As you can see, varicose veins in the legs are quite a serious disease, the treatment of which should be started at the onset of the first signs in order to avoid dire consequences.
Despite the variability of symptoms in each case, it will not be difficult to recognize varicose veins on the legs. Its main manifestation, which gave the disease its name, is the expansion of the veins of the legs. There may be "spider webs" or "asterisks" coming from the subcutaneous vessels - by the way, they will be more noticeable on the legs of women. This is because men have more "vegetation" on their legs, so that thin strands of blood vessels can go unnoticed.
The disease progresses slowly over many years, if not decades. In the early stages of the disease, the symptoms are few and usually nonspecific: there is a feeling of heaviness, bloating, pain in the legs, sometimes burning and night cramps. Swelling of the feet and ankles, pain in the veins are particularly common symptoms with varicose veins in the legs. At first, the edema appears infrequently, is mild and disappears after rest in a horizontal position, but if you do not take therapeutic and prophylactic measures, venous insufficiency becomes chronic, and edema appears regularly for no particular reason. These manifestations usually intensify in the evening, after a day's work, as well as in hot weather.
What is the danger of varicose veins?
Often the first signs of varicose veins of the legs are ignored, the disease gains momentum and irreversible processes begin, which lead to extremely unpleasant consequences: trophic ulcers and thrombophlebitis.
Trophic ulcers are a painful, non-healing wound of the foot or lower leg resulting from poor blood supply to the tissues. This rather painful disease manifests itself more often in old age, and its treatment can take a lifetime.
Thrombophlebitis is inflammation of the vein wall, in which blood clots form a blood clot that blocks the lumen of the vein.
Signs of thrombophlebitis, which developed against the background of varicose veins, are as follows:
- fever, chills;
- bumps along the veins, rather painful
- swelling of limbs
Thrombophlebitis can progress chronically with periodic exacerbations, possibly the so-called purulent fusion of the formed thrombus (septic thrombophlebitis) - then the infection quickly spreads throughout the body with the blood.
Important!A broken blood clot or part of it can enter the pulmonary artery, resulting in pulmonary embolism and, often, death. Do not let the disease take its course and do not neglect the supervision of a specialist!
Diagnosis and treatment
Diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins is carried out by a phlebologist, who should be consulted in case of symptoms of this disease. Modern diagnostic methods (CT angiography, Doppler ultrasound, etc. ) will determine how badly the veins are affected and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
In the treatment of varicose veins, drug therapy and compression therapy are used in combination, as well as surgical methods considered to be the most effective.
There are many drugs that increase the tone of the venous walls, reduce their permeability, improve microcirculation and lymphatic drainage. It can be ointments, gels, tablets with various active ingredients - of natural or synthetic origin.
Gels, ointments and creams are used in home therapy, applied to the affected areas of the vascular network. These drugs are divided into groups:
- Heparin ointments. Heparin has a resorbing effect, prevents blood stagnation.
- Ointments and gels based on natural ingredients relieve fatigue, pain, strengthen blood vessels, they are recommended during pregnancy.
- In the treatment of thrombophlebitis, drugs based on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used.
- Ointments and gels based on hormonal drugs also have anti-inflammatory effects.
With local drugs, to achieve the best effect, venotonics, phlebotonics, anticoagulants are prescribed, and if necessary, anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed orally or in the form of injections.
Compression therapy has been used for varicose veins on the legs since ancient times: Roman legionaries tightened their calves with strips of skin to prevent swelling and pain during long military transitions, and Egyptian pharaohs were sometimes depicted withelastic bandages in the hands. This simple method works by reducing the diameter of the superficial veins, which causes increased blood flow and a decrease in the amount of "ballast" blood in the legs.
Nowadays, they not only use elastic bandage, but also more comfortable compression stockings. The bandage is applied from the toes to the middle of the thigh. The bandage and compression stockings are both worn in the morning in a horizontal position and worn throughout the day and removed at night.
Treatment with folk remedies can be used in combination with these drugs. Folk and to a certain extent effective remedies are infusion of horse chestnut, infusion of garlic and lemon, compresses of green tomatoes.
Compresses from green tomatoes are good for treating varicose veins on the legs.
However, when dealing with folk remedies, you should be careful and approach this process with healthy criticism. If you go to any forum dedicated to this topic, in addition to very good proven and tested recipes, you can find a lot of amazing ideas - from compresses from horse manure to ingesting a decoction of poisonous plants, which can be just as unnecessary and harmless, and can lead to serious bodily harm, because not only a specialist, but also an ordinary "Internet troll" or just a person with an unhealthy psyche can write on the forum.
Important!After discovering a new prescription on the internet, before using the suggested remedy, be sure to consult your doctor.
It should be noted that conservative treatment, like treatment with folk remedies, cannot cure varicose veins, but only slow down its development and relieve symptoms.
As a minimally invasive and highly effective surgical method, laser treatment or laser endovascular coagulation is used - this method does not require incisions and there is no need for hospitalization for inpatient treatment. Under the influence of a laser beam, a diseased vessel is "stuck" and the load is transferred to healthy vessels. Laser coagulation can be done in the initial stages of the disease. Produced under local anesthesia.
In addition, in addition to laser therapy, coagulation (gluing) of diseased vessels is carried out using radio frequency waves (radio frequency coagulation) and injecting a special substance (sclerotherapy).
Phlebectomy is usually a straightforward surgical procedure that removes dilated veins.
With varicose veins, a salt-free diet is prescribed, and a proper diet is also necessary if the causes of varicose veins are overweight or diseases of the endocrine system.
Sports with varicose veins are undesirable, therapeutic and prophylactic physical education, cycling, swimming are recommended. There are special exercises for varicose veins.
It is contraindicated to visit a bath, a sauna, a long stay in hot water.
Massage for varicose veins is not used.
Prevention of varicose veins in the legs is extremely important for every person, since it is extremely difficult to completely cure varicose veins, the fight against it takes a lot of time and effort, and the cost of treatment is quite high.
First of all, you should try, if possible, to prevent or eliminate the reasons that affect its development:
- avoid standing or sitting for a long time, if this is not possible - do leg warm-ups as often as possible;
- refuse to wear tight clothing, tight tights or pants;
- choose your shoes carefully;
- do not allow excess weight;
- for pregnant women, it is important not to allow yourself to overexert the legs, to rest in a horizontal position during the day;
- an active lifestyle, moderate physical activity, cardio exercises, "inverted" exercises (for example, "birch" is a simple but very effective way to prevent varicose veins);
- hardening, contrast shower;
- Good nutrition;
- rest in a horizontal position during the day.
Advice!A good prevention is to lift your legs slightly above head level while resting in a horizontal position, placing a pillow or roller under them and staying in that position for 3-5 minutes, butno longer.