Varicose veins

March 2017


Definition


Varicose veins correspond to an abnormal dilatation of the veins located in the lower limbs. They are frequently encountered in the disease called chronic venous insufficiency but can be caused by several mechanisms. Blood flows from the small veins located at the foot toward larger veins up towards the heart. In normal function, this is made possible by three mechanisms: the pressure generated by the contraction of the heart, the contraction of muscles, especially when walking which provides additional impetus in this direction, and the existence of small valves, located along the path of the superficial veins that prevent blood from going back down. In case of problems with these valves or the existence of an obstacle to the flow of blood, venous insufficiency is experienced. This causes an accumulation of blood in the most affected veins and thus varicose veins. Certain factors increase the risk of developing varicose veins of the lower limbs, including: heat, a sedentary lifestyle, pregnancy, prolonged standing and poor circulation.

Symptoms


==Symptoms== of varicose veins are:
  • a very blue and particularly visible superficial vein often increased in volume;
  • pain in this vein;
  • burden on the calves, sometimes all of the leg, occurring mainly in the late afternoon;
  • numb legs when sitting or standing;
  • the need to move to relieve pain or discomfort;
  • sometimes, none of these symptoms are present and the patient is just bothered by the unsightly appearance of varicose veins.

Diagnosis


The diagnosis of varicose veins is made upon a physical examination. The varicose veins are easily recognizable, and various clinical tests can be used to evaluate the severity of venous insufficiency. This examination can be confirmed by a venous Doppler ultrasound, which reveals blood flow and circulation and can sometimes find a cause that can be treated. Venography, and radiography of the venous network, can also be performed.

Treatment


To treat venous insufficiency of the lower limbs, stockings can be worn to facilitate venous return. Drugs will also be prescribed for this purpose. In regards to varicose veins, some can be treated by sclerotherapy, the injection of a product that will block the vein involved in the varicose vein. Surgery is also an option, and it consists of removing a major vein from the leg.

Prevention


To prevent varicose veins in the legs, avoid being sedentary and undertake physical activity, be it as walking. It is also essential to avoid prolonged standing stations or cross-legged, slightly raise the foot of the bed, to avoid exposure to heat (be careful especially with underfloor heating) and wear stockings if necessary.

Related

Original article published by . Translated by Jeff.
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