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Got Heavy Legs? It Could be Vein Disease!

Do you have tired, heavy legs? Sometimes, symptoms of vein disease are very obvious, like when you notice bulging, dark veins on your legs. But other times, the symptoms are less visible. At the end of the day, do your legs just feel off? Are they tired, and feeling very heavy? Have you been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome?

Deep Vein Thrombosis
Tired, achy legs are actually a symptom of vein disease!

As it turns out, all of those symptoms are signs of venous reflux disease. Which means, if your answers are yes, it’s time to see your Houston vein specialists.  That’s because you may have been suffering from this condition for quite some time, even if you haven’t seen physical symptoms.

What is Venous Reflux?

When your legs are healthy, the valves in the leg veins open and close well, helping blood return back to your heart. When you have venous reflux, however, the valves don’t function fully. This allows blood to flow back down into your legs, pooling and stretching your veins. And, over time, you will start to notice varicose veins, even if they haven’t yet appeared.

Why? Varicose veins become swollen, twisted and sometimes painful because they are filled with too much blood. People may think that varicose veins are just a cosmetic issue, but they are actually one more symptom of reflux disease, a condition that can become debilitating if allowed to progress.

Heavy Legs and Venous Insufficiency

If you’re not sure what we mean by heavy legs, think of it this way. When you walk, does it feel like you’re wearing ankle weights? Then you’re dealing with this vein disease symptom, which could also be a sign of poor circulation.

With poor circulation, your lower extremities may not get enough oxygen-rich blood to support your activity. Which is why a day on your feet could leave you with heavy legs. We call this condition venous insufficiency (VI.) And, like venous reflux, you need to treat VI early on or your symptoms will progress and worsen.

Additionally, with vein disease, blood sits in your lower extremities for longer than it should. This symptom alone can weigh down your lower body. And that makes your legs feel heavy.

Left alone, VI could give also cause pain, itching, swelling (edema), cramps, changes in skin color, and (you guessed it!) varicose veins! But wait, it gets worse. VI and other forms of vein disease also increase your risk for blood clots, a potentially life threatening development.

Dealing with Venous Reflux and Insufficiency

If you have symptoms of venous reflux or insufficiency, we can perform a diagnostic ultrasound to get you a confirmed diagnosis. And if that diagnosis is venous reflux disease, we can start treatment right away.

Initially, we start with conservative treatment options like support stockings—especially if you don’t yet have visible symptoms. We may also help you begin a weight loss and exercise regimen, to take some of the pressure off your hard working veins and to help strengthen legs muscles that will push blood up where it belongs. And we’ll make sure you’re putting up your legs whenever possible.

Of course, these measures won’t cure venous reflux—they’ll just help manage symptoms and they may prevent disease progression. Patients who are seeking a permanent solution to their venous reflux can schedule a consultation with Drs. Fox, Hardee or Valenson to see which of our minimally invasive vein treatment options will best suit their needs.


5 Reasons Why Varicose Veins Aren’t Just a Cosmetic Concern

There’s one thing we all know about varicose veins.  Those bulging, dark twisty things don’t look great when they show up on your legs (or anywhere else.) But here’s what you may not know: varicose veins are actually your body’s way of warning you that problems are brewing inside.

5 Conditions Associated with Spider VeinsDiagnostic Ultrasound Evaluation

  1. Venous Insufficiency.

    Varicose veins aren’t bad for you on their own.  But the factors that create them can be. You see, veins are elastic blood vessels. They have a job: to  carry blood back to the heart after it’s reached your body’s extremities.

    Now, there are a series of valves in your veins. They open and close, allowing blood to flow up towards your heart. Valves are basically one-way gates. They open to let blood flow up, but close to keep it from going back down towards your feet. Basically, they help your body fight gravity. But what happens when those valves stop working well? Your blood can flow backward, letting blood pool in your feet. That kind of backward flow is called venous insufficiency (VI). It stretches your veins, so they bulge. And it can also lead to leg and ankle swelling (edema), pain, itching and other uncomfortable symptoms.

  2. Blood Clots.

    When VI leaves you with pooling blood, that blood is more likely to form clots. Clots that form in the walls of your superficial veins (also called phlebitis) can be quite painful, although not usually life threatening.

  3. Deep Vein Thrombosis.

    Also known as DVT, this is a condition that occurs when blood clots form in your body’s deeper veins. Associated with poor circulation, it is considered a life threatening condition because, if a clot breaks free, it can travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism).

  4. Ulcers.

    When blood sits around in your veins, it doesn’t just clot–it can start to leak out of your vessels as the walls become stretched beyond capacity. The leaked blood can deposit itself into the soft tissue of your legs, especially around your ankles where the skin is thin, holes may open up. Because your circulatory system is already compromised, less than optimal amounts of oxygen will reach that hole, making it more difficult for the skin to heal itself. That is why individuals with VI are more prone to open sores (ulcers.)

  5. Bleeding.

    When VI persists without treatment veins may be stretched to the point where they burst. At that point, you will experience bleeding that, depending on the location of the vein, may be dangerous to your overall health.

Cosmetic Vein Treatments and Vein Health Safety

Treating your varicose veins will restore your leg’s healthy appearance. But it’s about so much more than that. Our goal as Houston vein specialists is to resolve the underlying symptoms of varicose veins. Such as heavy legs, cramps, or itchy, burning skin. Because developing varicose veins is not just a normal part of aging. It’s a sign of vein disease. So, by treating your varicose veins, we can help you look and feel better!

And here’s some more good news: most of our vein treatments are virtually painless. Plus, many only require a local anesthetic, so you won’t be staying in the hospital. And, since vein treatments protect your health, not just your looks, many insurance plans will help cover the cost of your procedure. So you don’t have to worry about a large out-of-pocket responsibility.

Now that you understand the potential complications associated with spider veins, don’t waste another minute.  Schedule a diagnostic vein scan to determine the best treatment course to resolve your venous insufficiency. Remember, it’s not just about how you look. It’s about protecting your long-term health!


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