Varicose veins is a particularly uncomfortable condition occurring when the blood doesn’t flow properly through the veins in the leg.
The condition affects more than a third of all adults in the UK at some stage in their life and is more common in women than men.
The varicose veins occur when weak or damaged valves in the vein allow blood to back-up and collect in the veins. This buildup can enlarge and swells the veins, making them protrude the legs and look unsightly. Though varicose veins are not considered a major health risk, they can be very uncomfortable and cause pain, aching, itching and general discomfort for sufferers.
There are two types of vein in the leg which are affected, superficial veins (which lie under the skin and include the long and short saphenous veins) and deep veins.
Symptoms of varicose veins
Symptoms of varicose veins may vary from person to person, indeed some sufferers might not have any symptoms at all, for those that do, they may notice, aching or throbbing legs, itchy or restless legs, swollen feet and ankles or lumps and bulging veins.
Any of these conditions should be checked out by your GP, and even if you know that you have varicose veins you should monitor them regularly as there can be complications associated with them.
The complications that can occur for those suffering varicose veins are:
Thrombophlebitis – a condition where the superficial veins in the leg become painful and red due to a blood clot forming in the vein. This can become very dangerous, if the clot blocks the vein completely or moves to the heart, lungs or brain.
Bleeding – Bleeding can occur if the patient cuts or bangs their leg, especially in an area where the veins are pushing against the surface of the skin.
Varicose eczema – This complication relates to the discolouration of the skin around the veins, those who suffer from varicose veins can notice that the skin can become brown or purple, this discolouration may become permanent.
Venous ulcers – The liquid which fills the varicose veins can on occasion leak into the surrounding tissue, if untreated ulcers can form and the area can become infected.
Causes of varicose veins
Despite the number of people that suffer from the condition and the number of years medical professionals have studied varicose veins, the exact reasons why they occur isn’t known. It is thought that those who suffer from the condition have a weakness in the vein wall so as the valves open and close they swell and cause damage, the valves then leak and blood begins to pool.
You are however more likely to develop varicose veins as you get older and the veins lose their elasticity. You are also more at risk if pressure is applied, this can be from being pregnant or because the patient is overweight.
Standing up for long periods of time can also be a factor; those that work long shifts or spend their working day on their feet can become victims of the condition.
One other possible explanation is that the varicose veins could be a hereditary condition and come from the family gene-pool.
Diagnosis of varicose veins
Before you make your first appointment with your GP it may be possible to self-diagnose, especially if the varicose veins are visible. Once a consultation is booked your GP may choose to hear both your symptoms and your family history as the genetic link often correlates.
If the symptoms appear severe then you may be sent for a second consultation with a vascular surgeon.
Once diagnosed there are also two tests that a doctor may conduct to determine the location of the valve damage and how to best treat the problem.
1. Doppler test – The GP will listen to the blood flowing in your veins using a small probe, by doing this the doctor will be able to tell both the direction of the blood flow and ascertain whether or not the veins are working properly.
2. Ultrasound scan – By performing an ultrasound scan on the patient the doctor can produce an image of the veins in the legs. This image will allow the doctor or a vascular surgeon to study the varicose veins in more detail, and to examine the structure and function of the veins.
Treatment of varicose veins
There are a number of treatment options available for those who suffer from varicose veins, these can range from self help right through to surgery. Self help would be where a doctor would advise the patient to lose any excess weight or rest their feet on a footstool, or the GP could recommend the use of compression stockings which encourages the blood to flow towards the heart and prevent pooling.
The surgical procedure is to ligate (tie) the varicose veins and strip (remove) them, this procedure is usually conducted under general anaesthetic. The work of the removed veins will transfer to the deep veins in the leg.
There are some non-surgical procedures available too, endothermal ablation where the doctor would direct either heat or a laser into the vein, this would damage the vein and cause it to close.
Another option would be sclerotherapy, a foam based treatment, where the doctor would inject foam into the vein, again causing damage and closure.
How Adjustamatic can help
At Adjustamatic our range of vibration therapy products can offer a relaxing home treatment for varicose veins which helps increase your blood circulation and relieve any pain.
The range of movement in our adjustable beds and riser recliner chairs means that it is possible to have your feet elevated whenever they are in use, this help alleviate pressure on the feet and legs and stops the pooling of blood which ultimately causes varicose veins.
Our built in NHC Cyclo-Therapy treatment is proven to offer pain relief for varicose veins and varicose veins massage, the system works on patients of all ages but can be a preventative measure for younger adults especially if there is a genetic line of varicose veins.
To find out how our dedicated team of experts could help you or to arrange a free, no obligation consultation call us on 0808 163 7694.