What are Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?
The Vein Clinic in San Diego, California
Varicose veins are large, bulging blood vessels that protrude out of the skin’s surface. They resemble a dense mass of knotted, twisted, and tangled ropes or tree branches. This happens when excess blood accumulates in the leg veins, making them dilate and bulge outwards.
Chronic venous insufficiency is the primary root cause of varicose veins. Venous insufficiency is a medical condition wherein the vein valves (usually responsible for one-way blood circulation to the heart) collapse. When the vein valves malfunction, gravity forces blood to flow backward and accumulate in the leg veins. The continued accumulation of blood in leg veins leads to varicose veins.
Varicose veins are more common among individuals with genetic predisposition (if vein problems run in the family), females, older individuals, and sedentary lifestyles.
Spider veins are dense clusters of small and thin blood vessels visible just under the skin’s surface. They usually spread outwards and resemble spider webs.
Spider veins occur due to the continuous accumulation of blood in the leg veins, usually because of a medical condition called chronic venous insufficiency. Vein disease is a circulatory disorder wherein the vein valves collapse, making blood flow backward and accumulate in leg veins, which, in turn, increases vascular pressure and causes spider veins.
Common risk factors for spider veins include genetic predisposition, pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations, weight gain, and sedentary jobs, such as desk jobs, teaching, nursing, driving, etc
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Vein Disease Symptoms
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
Restless legs syndrome is a medical condition wherein the patient has an uncontrollable need to move or shake their legs. This can interfere with regular activities and sleep, leading to insomnia and fatigue.
Restless legs syndrome may occur due to extended periods of sedentariness, i.e., if you sit or stand still for long periods. However, if your restless legs syndrome is persistent and worsens gradually as the day progresses, you may have underlying vein disease. Chronic venous insufficiency causes blood accumulation in leg veins, which, in turn, leads to the insatiable urge to shake your legs.
Frequent Leg Cramps
Leg cramps are sudden, involuntary spasms or muscular contractions in the thighs or calves. While leg cramps may originate in the legs, the spasms can also spread to other parts of the body, including the arms. Leg cramps are often called “Charley Horse” when they originate in the calves.
Leg cramps may have numerous underlying causes, such as dehydration, pregnancy, electrolyte imbalance, etc. However, if you maintain a healthy lifestyle and drink plenty of water and still experience frequent leg cramps, especially at night, you should consult our vein doctors in California. That’s because frequent leg cramps that worsen at the end of the day are common symptoms of vein disease.
Leg heaviness is a condition wherein your legs feel heavy, which can also cause fatigue and exhaustion.
Leg heaviness may be caused by numerous factors. But chronic venous insufficiency is the most common cause of persistent leg heaviness, especially if it worsens at the end of the day or after prolonged periods of sitting or standing still. You can alleviate leg heaviness caused by vein disease with exercises that work the calf muscles, such as running and cycling. However, you must consult a reliable vein clinic in California for long-lasting relief and treatment.
Leg swelling occurs when excess fluid accumulates in the tissues in the lower body. This condition is also known as peripheral edema, and it’s most common in older adults.
Leg swelling may occur due to pregnancy, high salt intake, or underlying medical conditions, such as kidney failure and heart failure. However, chronic venous insufficiency is the most common root cause of leg swelling, especially if the symptom worsens at the end of the day. You can temporarily control leg swelling by wearing compression stockings or exercising, but you must consult reliable vein clinics in California for long-lasting relief.
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Causes of Vein Disease
The Root Cause of Spider Veins and Varicose Veins
Spider veins and varicose veins are usually symptomatic of underlying chronic venous insufficiency.
Chronic venous insufficiency is a medical condition wherein the vein valves malfunction or collapse. In healthy veins, the valves act as one-way doors that facilitate smooth blood circulation to the heart. When your vein valves collapse, blood flows backward and accumulates in the leg veins, leading to increased pressure in the veins. The continued accumulation of blood in the leg veins leads to vascular dilation, which, over time, leads to the formation of spider veins and varicose veins.
You have a higher risk of spider veins and varicose veins if you have a family history of vein problems, are female, pregnant, or have a sedentary job. Spider veins and varicose veins are more common amongst people who spend long periods of time sitting or standing still, such as teachers, nurses, drivers, and those with desk jobs.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Chronic venous insufficiency is the underlying disease responsible for most of the vein problems and symptoms mentioned earlier. However, to understand chronic venous insufficiency, you must first understand how healthy veins function.
Veins are blood vessels that carry blood from different parts of the body to the heart. Healthy veins consist of one-way doors known as vein valves that facilitate smooth blood circulation to the heart. Valves allow blood to flow towards the heart but prevent it from flowing backward due to gravity. Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when the vein valves malfunction, weaken, or collapse due to age, disease, hormonal changes, or other factors.
When the vein valves collapse, blood flows backward due to gravity and accumulates in the leg veins. The continued accumulation of blood in the leg veins leads to vascular dilation, i.e., the veins’ walls bulge outwards, leading to numerous vein problems.
Initially, vein disease leads to throbbing leg veins, restless legs syndrome, frequent leg cramps, leg heaviness, spider veins, and other relatively benign symptoms. However, if left untreated, vein disease may eventually cause varicose veins, skin discoloration, non-healing wounds on the skin’s surface (leg ulcers), and deep vein thrombosis. You must consult reliable vein doctors in California to treat chronic venous insufficiency.