The human body is a puzzle of different networks and systems that work together to keep us feeling our best. One of the most important cogs turning in the human machine is the vascular system, which carries oxygenated blood from our heart down through our arteries, all the way to our extremities, and back up to our lungs for reoxygenation through our veins. But like anything else, veins can go haywire when they aren’t functioning at their best, and the damage they can suffer from improper blood flow and poor circulation can lead to vein diseases like chronic venous insufficiency, varicose veins, blood clots, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Knowing the early warning signs of vein disease is crucial to nip problems in the bud and proactively seek treatment that will restore your circulation and keep your body feeling its best. But what exactly should we be looking out for? We’ll dive into these signs and figure out when it’s time to ask the experts for help.
Cracking the Vein Disease Code
Vein disease oftentimes impacts the valves in your veins first, which controls the flow of blood. Blood pumps in one direction through the veins to help your blood fight gravity when it flows from your feet up to your lungs. When these valves malfunction, blood can flow backwards and pool in the veins. This can lead to bulging veins, leaking vein walls, and the formation of varicose veins as your veins try to deal with the unwelcome pressure of excess blood pooling in places it ought to be flowing through. This causes pain and discomfort that only gets worse if it is ignored.
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a progressive disease, meaning it does not go away on its own like a cough or a cold. Unfortunately, this isn’t something we can sit through and heal with rest and hydration; vein disease requires action to find meaningful relief, so it’s important to be able to recognize the common symptoms and seek FDA-approved treatment if you are experiencing pain or discomfort.
Early Signs of Vein Disease
Vein disease does not become severe overnight, and there are early warning signs that can hint at the presence of vein disease.
Vein Changes You Can See: The first giveaway can be visible varicose veins or spider veins. Varicose veins are often raised against the skin, bulging, and look twisted like cords of rope. They may be different colors depending on your skin tone, ranging from blues and purples to reds and greens. They can be smaller as well as large and thick. Spider veins, however, tend to be thin and pigmented, spread out like a spider’s web in reds, purples, blues, and greens. They are not raised against the skin, and should not cause any physical discomfort or pain like varicose veins.
Leg Pain: If your legs hurt, feel heavy, or cramp up – especially after standing or sitting for a while – it could be a sign of vein issues. This pain is prevalent even if no strenuous exercise has taken place, and when the legs do not have any visible injuries, wounds, bug bites, or rashes. Discomfort and pain from vein disease can get worse as the day goes on and may result in restless legs that keep you up at night. If your sleep is being negatively impacted by leg pain, it’s time to see a vein specialist near you.
Leg Swelling: Your legs or ankles swelling up like balloons can be the result of blood not flowing correctly from your feet back to your lungs. Swelling paired with hot or flushed skin can be a sign of moderate or severe vein disease. One quick tip for identifying swelling caused by vein disease: if the swelling goes away when you elevate your legs (thus aiding the flow of blood from feet to lungs), it’s likely caused by vein disease.
Skin Changes: Skin around the problem veins might change color or get darker. Some patients experience texture changes or “scaly” skin as their veins leak and their body begins to call attention to the problem.
Itchy, Burning Sensations: Feeling like your legs are on fire or itchy could be due to vein problems. Veins are not designed to leak, and the presence of blood outside the vein is not entirely welcome by your body’s immune system. This has been reported to feel like ants crawling under your skin, or like excessive heat. Sitting or standing for too long can turn up the heat (and the itch) on these sensations.
Can’t Keep Still: Restless leg syndrome (RLS) might kick in as vein disease begins to affect your veins. It’s like an itch you need to scratch, making you move your legs a lot, especially at night, to try to satisfy the discomfort.
When to Call a Vein Doctor For Help
Spotting the early signs and identifying your symptoms lays the foundation for finding lasting and meaningful relief from vein disease. Knowing when to speak with a vein specialist is just as important on the journey to healthy, happy legs.
Symptoms That Won’t Quit: If your discomfort and pain don’t go away with time and good practices (such as wearing compression stockings to alleviate swelling and boost circulation), it’s time to call a board-certified vein doctor near you and schedule an evaluation. Getting in early and being proactive with your vein health can save you time and trouble. Vein disease is progressive, and it’s recommended to seek treatment as early as possible to avoid more serious concerns such as venous ulcers, blood clots, and Deep Vein Thrombosis.
Quality of Life Changes: When pain, discomfort, or mobility issues from vein disease are negatively impacting your day-to-day life, your body is waving a red flag that should not be ignored. Postponing treatment when you are having trouble sitting or standing for long periods, if you are unable to sleep, and more will lead to more problems down the line. Listen to your body: no pain is normal.
Family Matters: If your family has a history of vein disease (such as a parent or relative having varicose veins), you might be at an elevated risk through your genetics. Regular check-ups and acting early can help manage the issue.
The Bottom Line
Vein disease doesn’t play favorites, so catching the early signs and seeking FDA-approved treatment to manage and remedy your symptoms is crucial. Whether it’s obvious vein changes, pain, or discomfort, our bodies communicate to us when something in the system is not working at its optimum level. No one knows your body like you do: it’s up to you to listen when it tries to give you a heads-up that something is wrong.
If you or someone you know is showing these early signs, don’t hesitate to ask the experts for help! We offer free vein evaluations at every Metro Vein Centers vein clinic, where you can discuss your symptoms and concerns with a vein specialist directly at no charge to you. Prioritizing vein health can mean happier legs that support you every step of the way: you deserve a pain-free life. If you’re interested in speaking with one of our board-certified vein doctors about our minimally invasive varicose vein and spider vein treatments, our patient care team is happy to assist.