Veins are not a part of the body that we pay much attention to. Their vital importance in health is something we generally take for granted. We don’t see them, so we inherently trust that they are working as they should. If, however, we start to notice discoloration on a leg or see symptoms like visible veins and swelling on a loved one, it’s understandable that we might become concerned. Vein disease can be a progressive problem that requires treatment at some point. Here, we discuss signs that can help you determine when to see a vein specialist.
Is it Vein Disease?
Generally speaking, vein disease means that one or more veins are not pushing blood as well as they should. Veins have valves that help progress blood out of the lower extremities and back to the heart. These valves are crucial to good circulation because blood is working against gravity in the feet and legs. The signs of vein disease can vary. Some people notice very little. Others experience the following in one or both legs:
- Leg cramps
- Swollen ankles/legs
- Persistent aches or sharp pain
- Heaviness or pressure in the legs
- Visible spider veins or varicose veins
Recognizing the Stages of Vein Disease
We mentioned that vein disease is progressive. Here, we show you how that may look and feel.
- Vein swelling. In the early stage of vein disease, the vein starts to swell beneath the surface. No visible signs may be present, but the legs may feel itchy, throbbing, burning, or heavy. Restless leg syndrome can also be indicative of hidden vein disease.
- Spider veins. These small, discolored webs of veins can also cause mild burning or aching.
- Varicose veins. Enlarged, swollen veins may look blue or purple. They are deeper and larger than spider veins and are more likely to coincide with other symptoms, like heaviness and aching.
- Leaky valves that cause blood to pool in a vein can also cause swelling and tiredness in the legs and ankles. This is especially noticeable after standing for long periods.
- Visible blood vessels at the ankles. Referred to as Corona Phlebectatica, this condition causes blue or red spider veins around the ankles. Swelling may also occur.
- Skin discoloration or hardening. Skin changes occur when blood and fluid buildup occurs beneath the surface.
- Potentially serious complications. Vein disease that is not treated can ultimately result in leg ulcers on the skin. There is also an increased risk of blood clots in the later stages of vein disease.