Causes, Risks & Symptoms

The Cause of Vein Disorders

Normally, veins carry blood from your legs up to your heart using one-way valves. When veins get weak, these valves no longer function and blood may flow backward towards your feet. This abnormal flow is called venous reflux or venous insufficiency. Pooled blood leads to varicose veins and potentially spider veins.

Risk Factors

There are many potential risk factors for varicose and spider veins. The most common include:

  • Heredity
  • Older Age
  • Female Gender
  • Pregnancy

While there may be other risks, most are still under investigation.

Symptoms

You may have a medical condition known as venous insufficiency if you suffer from any of the following leg symptoms:

  • Pain/Aching/Throbbing
  • Heaviness or leg fatigue
  • Swelling of feet/ankles
  • Itchy veins
  • Night cramps
  • Restless nights
  • Bleeding veins
  • Varicose veins
  • Non-Healing ulcers

Symptoms often get worse as the day progresses and are sometimes relieved by leg elevation. You can still suffer from venous insufficiency even if you do not have visible abnormal veins.

Another clinical clue to venous insufficiency is a cluster of spider veins around your ankles. The fancy medical term for this is corona phlebectasia.

Chronic venous insufficiency may cause the skin to have a brown leathery appearance around the ankles and lower legs (known as stasis pigmentation or lipodermatosclerosis). This unhealthy skin can develop open sores (ulcerations) and bleeding or bruising after a minor injury.

NOTE: If your legs feel great but you have a few spider veins, you probably do not need a medical workup or treatment! Under these circumstances, you would only require spider vein treatment.

Just as you wouldn’t hesitate to walk away from a car mechanic selling you unnecessary service, you should make sure you are comfortable with information you are receiving from your physicians.