Understanding Varicose Veins: Here are the Basics

Generally, varicose veins are bulging, twisted bluish cords that run just beneath the surface of the skin. They often affect legs and feet. Sometimes, they are visible swollen and twisted veins surrounded by patches of flooded blood capillaries also referred to as spider veins. While these veins may be harmless when inflamed can become tender to the touch and obstruct the flow of blood. This can result in swollen ankles, aching in the affected limb, and itchy skin around the affected area.

In addition to the surface network of blood veins, your leg has an interior (deep) network of blood veins. On rare occasions, these interior veins can become varicose. Note that these deep veins are not visible, but when swollen, they can cause aching throughout the leg. They may also be the site where different sizes of blood clots form.

To help in the circulation of blood rich in oxygen from your lungs to all other parts of your body, your arteries must have very thick layers of muscle and highly elastic tissue. To effectively take this blood back to your heart, your blood veins depend majorly on the surrounding body muscles and a network of one-way vein valves. That means these cup-like valves open to allow blood flow and closes to prevent any backflow.

The leading cause of varicose veins is the malfunction of these valves. If they don’t open and close effectively, a pool of blood will form in your veins, and that will make it challenging for your body muscles to push the blood ‘upwards.’ Instead of your blood flowing from one vein valve to another, it is more likely to pool in the vein. This increases the pressure in the vein resulting in bulging and twisted veins. Since superficial veins have less muscle support as compared to deep veins, they are more likely to bulge and twist, causing varicose veins.

Keep in mind that any condition that exerts excessive pressure on your abdomen and legs can result in bulging veins. Some of the common pressure inducers are obesity, standing for a long time, and pregnancy. Chronic constipation and in rare instances, tumors, can also result in bulging, twisted veins. Besides, being sedentary may contribute to varicosity significantly as muscles that are out of conditions provide unreliable blood-pumping effort.

The risk of developing varicose veins also heightens as your blood veins weaken with age. A prior leg injury associated with traumatic damage to your veins also increases the risk of developing bulging and twisted veins in your legs. Genetics, according to experts, play a significant role. That means if some of your family members have varicose veins, there is a greater probability that you will have them too.

Contrary to a famous belief that sitting with your legs crossed cannot result in bulging twisted blood veins. However, it can aggravate a current (existing) condition. If left untreated, varicose blood veins can result in severe health issues.

Related Articles