Bulging, ropy veins are a symptom of varicose vein disease.

Bulging, ropy veins are a symptom of varicose vein disease.

Many people who have varicose veins are concerned about the appearance of their legs. At Premier Vein Clinics of Knoxville, we also know that for some people, varicose veins are more than an aesthetic problem, and may even indicate a more serious medical issue.

Varicose veins are most common in the lower legs due to gravity, which makes it harder for the veins to pump blood up towards the heart. For many people, varicose veins cause symptoms such as leg swelling, aching, burning, throbbing, or pain. These symptoms can sometimes be reduced by self-care practices such as elevating the legs above the heart for 20-30 minutes periodically or by wearing supportive compression stockings to improve circulation.

However, in some cases varicose veins may also indicate a more dangerous medical issue.

Varicose veins can be a sign of venous insufficiency, meaning the one-way valves in the leg veins aren’t functioning properly to keep blood pumping towards the heart. Venous insufficiency is also at the root of a condition known as “phlebitis.” Phlebitis is defined as inflammation of the veins, and it may allow pooled blood inside the veins to clot and form a “thrombus”—or a hard, tender lump on the leg—which can be painful and may present a significant medical risk

A thrombus can be a risk factor for a more serious condition known as “deep vein thrombosis,” which is when the clot extends from the superficial veins—where varicose veins form—into the deep vein system. In the most severe cases, the clot may break loose from the vein and travel to other parts of the body. If it impedes circulation to the lungs it’s considered a “pulmonary embolus,” which is a potentially life threatening condition that requires urgent diagnosis and treatment.

People who’ve left their varicose veins untreated for many years can also develop damage to the skin on the leg. Over time, this damage from long-term fluid buildup can deteriorate into a venous ulcer, which is a sore that doesn’t heal. Venous ulcers are typically extremely painful and problematic for many people, affecting mobility and quality of life. However, the vast majority of venous ulcers are preventable with the early diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins.

There are many options for the treatment of diseased veins and your best option depends on the severity of your condition, your preference, and desired outcomes. It’s important to note that varicose veins do not heal on their own, and typically worsen over time. If you’re concerned that your varicose veins are worsening or may indicate a more serious medical problem, consult with a vein specialist.

Premier Vein Clinics of Knoxville is offering free varicose vein screenings for qualified candidates through August, 2016, at our Premier Surgical Papermill location. So if you are suffering from pain or swelling in your legs, request an appointment for a free screening with one of the local board certified vascular surgeons at Premier Vein Clinics in Knoxville.