Millions of Americans have vein disease, including chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a common type of vascular disease that affects as many as 20% of Americans. Unfortunately, many people don’t know they have vein disease because they don’t know what signs to look for.
Steven Kanter, MD, FACS, and Michael Renfrow, MD, FACS, offer comprehensive vein care for patients at South Florida Surgical Group, including patient education aimed at helping men and women learn to recognize the most common symptoms of vascular disease. Here are five common signs they want you to know about.
#1: Varicose veins
Varicose veins are the most easily recognizable signs of vein disease, thanks to their purplish, bluish tones and their raised, swollen appearance. These veins are a common symptom of chronic venous insufficiency, a condition that happens when the veins in your legs don’t return blood to your heart the way they’re supposed to.
Varicose veins form when tiny valves inside your veins stop working. Normally, these valves keep blood moving in one direction — back to your heart. When the valves fail, blood slows down and pools up, sometimes even reversing direction. The vein walls weaken, causing the vein to bulge and darken. If you have varicose veins — in your legs or elsewhere, it’s time for a vein evaluation with our team.
Your blood vessels do more than deliver nutrients and oxygen to your tissues and organs. Veins also carry away fluids and wastes so they can be eliminated.
If you have vein disease, fluids build up (typically in your feet or legs, but also sometimes in your arms or hands), causing swelling (edema) that can interfere with normal use of your feet or hands.
Itching is another relatively common symptom of vein disease, usually due to a condition called venous stasis dermatitis. When blood vessels are weakened or damaged, the pressure inside the veins causes fluids to leak into the surrounding tissues.
The fluid causes irritation and inflammation, both of which lead to itchy skin. Increasing inflammation also deprives the skin of oxygen, increasing itching and discomfort.
#4: Skin changes
Skin changes happen when edema causes your skin to stretch and thin out. Scratching or even rubbing your skin can cause tiny cuts, bruises, or sores (ulcers) that can take a long time to heal.
Over time, your skin may begin to harden, developing a leathery look and feel. Fluid leakage around the damaged vein can cause your skin to look reddish or brownish.
#5: Leg pain
Damaged, diseased veins lead to poor circulation in your legs, and that means your leg muscles and supportive tissues aren’t getting the oxygen they need to support normal movement. Instead, a lack of oxygen causes throbbing pain or leg cramps, especially after a long period of sitting or standing.
Some people have feelings of heaviness or fatigue in their legs, even after brief periods of physical activity. Burning or stinging sensations are also relatively common, occurring with leg pain or on their own.
Keep your veins healthy
Vein disease affects millions of Americans, and without treatment, it can lead to significant complications. What’s more, some vein disease is caused by serious underlying problems, like blood clots.
Having a vein evaluation at the first sign of vein disease is the best way to prevent those problems and improve your vascular health. To schedule your vein evaluation at our practice in the Kendall neighborhood of Miami, Florida, book an appointment online or over the phone today.