If you have varicose veins, your legs may feel heavy, tired, restless, or achy. Standing or sitting for too long may worsen your symptoms. You may also experience night cramps.
You may notice small clusters of veins in a winding pattern on your leg, or soft, slightly tender knots of veins. Sometimes, the skin on your legs may change color, become irritated, or even form sores.
If you have severe varicose veins, you have slightly increased chances of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT may cause sudden, severe leg swelling. DVT is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
What causes varicose veins?
- High blood pressure inside your superficial leg veins causes varicose veins.
- Factors that can increase your risk for varicose veins include having a family history of varicose veins, being overweight, not exercising enough, smoking, standing or sitting for long periods of time, or having DVT.
- Women are more likely than men to develop varicose veins.
- Varicose veins usually affect people between the ages of 30 and 70.
- Pregnant women have an increased risk of developing varicose veins, but the veins often return to normal within 1 year after childbirth. Women who have multiple pregnancies may develop permanent varicose veins.
What tests will I need?
First our physician asks you questions about your general health, medical history, and symptoms. In addition, our physician conducts a physical exam. Together these are known as a patient history and exam. Our physician will examine the texture and color of any prominent veins. He or she may apply a tourniquet or direct hand pressure to observe how your veins fill with blood. To confirm a diagnosis of varicose veins, your physician may order a duplex ultrasound test.
Duplex ultrasound uses painless, high-frequency waves higher than human hearing can detect. Our physician uses duplex ultrasound to measure the speed of blood flow and to see the structure of your leg veins. The test can take approximately 20 minutes for each leg. Besides showing varicose veins, duplex ultrasound may help our physician decide whether your varicose veins could be related to some other condition rather than the veins themselves.