What Causes Varicose Veins in Legs?

Most adults know that those ugly protruding purple blue veins that show up on legs are called varicose veins. If you have them, you also know they can be uncomfortable and make your legs feel heavy. Maybe you hide them from view because you are embarrassed by them, but do you really know what causes varicose veins in legs?

woman sitting with varicose veins behind her knee Multiple Causes of Varicose Veins

There are several reasons certain people are susceptible to varicose veins, especially in their legs.

  • Increased blood pressure in those veins is where it starts. They affect the veins closest to the skin which is why they are so visible. They can look twisted, bulging, and swollen.
  • The second cause is weak vein walls and valves. Normal veins and one-way valves move blood forward towards the heart. Various causes can weaken not only the vein wall but also the valves. When this occurs, pressure increases in the veins, and the valves may not function normally allowing blood to pool in areas where the valve leaks and blood flows backward.

Over time, these weakened vein walls stretch and increase in size showing up on our skin as varicose veins.

Although not a life-threatening condition, there are still many issues that can arise, and the condition will only progress and get worse.

Contributing Factors

There are several other factors that contribute to varicose veins.

If you are overweight or obese, this increases the pressure in your veins.

If you have other members of your family with varicose veins, you are at a higher risk of developing the same condition due to genetics.

Women seem to be more at risk for varicose veins.

Your occupation is a factor. If you have a job which necessitates you standing on your feet for long periods of time, this condition can develop.

Pregnancy can cause varicose veins, but many veins improve after birth.

If you sit for long periods of time, smoke, have an inactive lifestyle, or take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, you can be at risk to develop varicose veins.

Common Symptoms and Serious Complications

Most people will develop dry skin, changes in the color of their skin, plus sores and ulcers that take a long time to heal. In addition, ankles and feet may swell, you may get painful cramps in your calf or thigh.

Although rare, serious complications can develop. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious complication where blood clots in the legs can break loose and go to the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism. Should you have a hot sore area, get medical care immediately.

Simple Home Care Treatments

You can try a number of home care options which can ease the symptoms of varicose veins. They include:

  • Elevate your feet above your heart several times a day.
  • Get more exercise and be more active.
  • Avoid sitting or standing for long periods.
  • Wear compression stockings.
  • Avoid crossing your legs.

There are several minimally invasive treatments to repair varicose veins with quick recovery times. Contact Weirton Medical Center for a consultation at our vein center in Weirton, West Virginia.

Category: Veins