Vein issues in legs can lead to major health complications. As vein specialists in Houston, we want to help people recognize the symptoms of the four most common veins problem in the leg. Together, we can help people detect these conditions quickly. And, since vein disease is progressive, that can improve their treatment outcomes and overall quality of life!
Vein Issues in Legs: Spider Veins
These veins are close to the surface of your skin, can be blue, red or purple in color, and look sort of like spiders’ webs—which is how they got their name. (Although they’re also called thread veins.) Since these veins are close to the surface if your skin, they’re often considered a mostly cosmetic concern. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, since many patients with spider veins also have varicose veins that aren’t yet visible. (See more on this concern below.)
When only spider veins are present, we can treat the faulty veins with sclerotherapy. Still, we’ll recommend a diagnostic ultrasound to make sure that’s the only vein issues in the leg that you’re dealing with.
In contrast to spider veins, varicose veins appear enlarged, swollen and often seem to be tangled. They are also typically are darker blue or purple color. While these veins are usually visible in the skin, you may have symptoms before they can be seen. These include heavy, aching or tired legs; leg swelling, or edema, may also be a symptom of varicose veins.
It’s important to treat varicose veins because, left alone, they will get worse. Treatment options will depend on how far your vein disease has progressed, but may include ablation or phlebectomy.
DVT and Leg Ulcers
With varicose veins, your risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and leg ulcers increases. A DVT is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of your legs. If that clot breaks free, it can travel to your lungs where it becomes a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism (PE.) Because of the potential complications, it’s important to detect DVT early and seek immediate medical care. DVT symptoms in your leg include cramps or throbbing pain in one leg, most often in your thigh or calf. You may also develop swelling, or one painful spot, surrounded by warm skin and red or darkened skin. Finally, you may notice swollen veins that feel hard or tender to the touch.
If you notice any of these signs, especially if you’ve recently taken a long flight, already have varicose veins, or have a history of DVT, call our office immediately. There are several new DVT treatment options that can protect your health.
A venous leg ulcer is a non-healing wound or open sore that forms on the lower legs or ankles. It’s caused by pooling blood in failed veins; that blood gets deposited in your lower leg tissue, and its high iron content damages your tissue, causing ulcers to form.
Once a wound opens, it’s very difficult to heal, since the vein damage that started your problems also reduces oxygen levels in your lower limbs. Since your body needs oxygen-rich blood to heal, it can be difficult to close venous ulcers once they form. As a result, we now address ulcers by sealing the abnormal veins, and starting you on compression therapy to improve your blood flow and prevent new ulcers from forming.
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome and Varicocele
While many vein issues appear in your legs, the pelvic area may also be affected. We see two conditions in particular in our office: Pelvic Congestion Syndrome, that mostly affects women, and Varicocele, affecting men.
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Many events in life, including pregnancy, can hurt vein function in your lower abdomen. In turn, your pelvic veins may grow larger and change shape, leading to pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS.)
The main PCS symptom is chronic pelvic pain, lasting for several months. But other symptoms can include bulging veins that are visible in your pelvic area; lower back and abdomen pain; an irritable bowel; a sudden, random need to urinate; and pain that gets worse during sex, your period or even walking and standing! While we tailor treatment plans to each patient, many women find PCS relief with a procedure known as ovarian vein embolization.
This is the medical term for varicose veins in the testicles. Varicocele develop after a failure in the valves of veins that lead into the testicles. In turn, blood backs up, potentially causing infertility, along with pain during activities such as running. We treat this condition with a minimally invasive procedure called varicocele embolization. Gaining access through a tiny groin incision, we insert a thin catheter through your vein and direct it toward the varicocele. Once the failed veins are accessed, we inject tiny coils into the catheter. That stops the varicocele blood flow, relieving pain and usually restoring fertility.
Help for Vein Issues in Leg in Houston, TX
Often, patients don’t realize they have vein disease until their condition is quite serious. Here at Texas Endovascular Associates, we want to help people find earlier diagnoses! What’s the best way to do that? Speak to your healthcare provider about your risk for vein or arterial disease, then contact our office and schedule a diagnostic ultrasound!