Veins play a critical role in keeping the blood pumping throughout the body — so when veins are compromised, it can affect one’s overall health and well-being.
Vein or venous (pronounced vee-nus) disease is defined as the impairment of blood flow towards your heart; it can occur if the valves in the veins become damaged and allow the backward flow of blood in the legs.
This pooling of blood can lead to a feeling of heaviness and can cause “spider veins,” swollen ankles, and/or legs that feel better in the morning, worse in the afternoon.
When people encounter any of the symptoms of venous disease, they should be considered early stage symptoms of a serious medical disorder. Left untreated, it can lead to leg pain, swelling, and serious health problems.
Advances in vein treatment
Venous disease is one of the most common health conditions in the United States. Many people have visible varicose veins, while others have no visible signs of the disease. It can affect men and women of all ages and activity levels, and while it has a strong genetic component (in other words, it runs in the family), venous disease can be aggravated by environmental risks, pregnancy, and other factors.
For years, patients suffering from varicose veins and related issues had few options for treatment, including vein stripping or compression stockings.
Today, modern procedures, such as endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) or sclerotherapy, are outpatient procedures, minimally invasive, virtually pain free, with very little recovery time. Treatment can help manage venous disease by eliminating pain and improving appearance and overall health, but there are also things one can do even before seeing a doctor.
Tips for relief
Doing one or more of these things may alleviate discomfort and help prevent the progression of venous symptoms:
• Walk. Walking causes the rhythmic contraction of calf muscles and helps promote blood flow to the heart. Walk at least 30 minutes every day — all at once, or in shorter increments.
• Elevate. Elevating your legs above your heart as often as possible — for as long as 30 minutes, or as briefly as three minutes at a time.
• Don’t smoke. Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke constricts veins and affects overall circulation.
• See a qualified, board-certified phlebologist for a screening and evaluation.
Because of its progressive nature, treating vein disease is never simply cosmetic — and for most people, even debilitating symptoms are completely treatable. Treatment can stop the progression of the disease and its complications for those in its early stages, and for those struggling with late-stage symptoms, it can restore health and improve quality of life.
Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen is the founder of the Vein Healthcare Center in South Portland, Maine. She is Board certified and cares for all levels of venous disease, including spider veins, varicose veins and venous ulcers. Contact her at (207) 221-7799 or firstname.lastname@example.org.