Beware of Varicose Veins Complications

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)
Varicose Veins  (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

If you don’t have varicose veins yet, well and good.  ^_^

Perhaps you will want to make sure you have minimal risks of ever developing those kinds of veins.  If interested to know the hows of possible prevention and be one of the least-possible candidates for the scary vvs, visit this link:  http://wellbody.net/2013/02/06/how-not-to-have-varicose-veins/

However, if spider and varicose veins have started to show on your skin, especially on the legs, feet and hands parts, it might be better that you become more aware of other possible conditions associated with having varicose veins; i.e. complications.

You see, veins which have become enlarged and tortuous (often times on the leg part although varicose veins can occur elsewhere) may lead to more severe concerns.

Normally, leg muscles pump the veins to return blood to the heart (called the calf muscle pump mechanism), against the effects of gravity. Veins have leaflet valves which prevent blood from flowing backwards (called retrograde flow or reflux).

Now, when veins turn into varicose, the leaflets of the valves no longer meet properly, and the valves may fail to function competently, such that this irregularity  may allow blood to flow backwards and cause enlargement even more.

Varicose vein complications are many and varied and the severity of problems associated with them may not always coincide with the visually obvious problem; which means what is visible to the eye may not actually indicate how severe the condition of your varicose veins may be.  It is not uncommon that some people with not very prominent veins may complain of significant associated pain.  Severe long-standing varicose veins could lead to leg swelling, venous eczema, skin thickening (called lipodermatosclerosis) and ulceration. On another hand, others with large varicose veins may say they are not aware  of nor feel any problem.

Although in the majority of cases, varicose veins may cause only a few symptoms, occasionally, they may cause complications associated with the condition.  The three most common are:

  • Bleeding – thin-walled varicose veins protrude just under the skin; so, accidentally bumping or scratching a large varicose vein may cause severe bleeding because of abnormally high pressure within the damaged veins.  The best way to treat an emergency as such is to lie down immediately, raise the leg, and apply direct pressure with a clean cloth to make the bleeding  stop; then see your doctor for treatment.
  • Phlebitis – refers to an inflammation of a vein and the common form  which  sometimes affect varicose veins is superficial thrombophlebitisan inflammation of a vein just below the surface of the skin, which results from a small blood clot.  Swelling and redness appear along the affected area of the vein when clots form in veins near the surface of the body. It may not be considered as life threatening as opposed to DVT or deep vein thrombosis.

For most cases of thrombophlebitis,  treatment consists of simply relieving the discomfort by applying warm compresses over the       involved vein and taking anti-inflammatory medication, without  requiring any specific therapy.  But with postphlebitic leg (also called stasis syndrome) which is considered the most serious consequence of phlebitis, the involved area may become discolored, scaly, and swollen, with hardened areas beneath the skin and the possibility of developing painful ulcers, the result of long-term phlebitis involving deeper veins.  A real pain in the eyes, too and not a matter to be taken with shrugged-shoulders.

The most serious consequence of phlebitis is the development of postphlebitic leg. This condition is also called stasis syndrome. It is usually the result of long-term phlebitis involving deeper veins.

  • Ulcers (or open sores) are one of the most troublesome complications of varicose veins, which, by the way, tend to occur most often among elderly people.   Varicose Ulcers  is one of the more severe  complications; a painful, bloody lesion which appears on the skin when underlying veins are unable to pump blood efficiently; such that a small  scratch or bite may fail to heal and cause cancerous skin changes over the years.  Regular dressings to protect the wound supported by strong compression stockings will speed improvement.  Without fixing the underlying vein problems there is a high risk of further ulcers.
  • Varicose Eczema may develop due to the poor drainage of blood from the legs ; usually occurs in people with a past history of eczema elsewhere.  But it will may also occur in those with no such history.  Steroid cream applications are available to clear an episode.  Use skin moisturizers to lessen the chance of an outbreak.  But the only long-term cure is treating the underlying veins.
  • Itchy Skin results from skin becoming more dry as it becomes less well nourished.
  • Pain may occur and get worse by the end of the day.  An aching sharp pain denotes a varicose veins complication especially when legs are put down on the floor.  Elevating the legs will improve the sensation markedly.
  • Cramps – Night cramps in the feet are may occur regularly
  • Restless Legs-  the problem stems from the fluid building up in the tissues from the back pressure created by the poorly functioning veins
  • Swollen Ankles – the reverse pressure associated with varicose veins seems to cause ankles to become swollen.

 

  • Lipodermatosclerosis – one of the more severe and often not reversible varicose vein complications wherein the skin around and just above the ankles becomes hard and tough and discolored, representing long term scar tissue invading or replacing healthy skin in the area from long term poor nutrition and back pressure injury.
  • Panniculitis – when the skin becomes acutely inflamed – red and sore – as a sudden inflamed reaction occurs in the skin in the lower leg.
  • Tiredness and Heaviness – especially if your work requires a lot of standing.

 

The are countless  complications associated with varicose veins, the majority of which may improve and disappear when the underlying problem is treated.   Treating them early tends to prevent further problems and complications.

As always, practicing a healthy lifestyle and adequate exercise may minimize varicose veins risks.  Let prevention be your focus in order to avoid the need for treatment.

 

Web Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varicose_veins

http://www.springdale.co.nz/We+Treat/Leg+Veins+And+Varicose+Veins/Varicose+Vein+Complications.htm

http://ehealthmd.com/content/what-complications-can-varicose-veins-cause