Symptoms of venous insufficiency

Spider veins are very small veins - about 1 to 3 millimetre in diameter - and are visible in the superficial layer of the skin, the epidermis.

They tend to increase in size and number in the course of time.

Varicose veins are larger than spider veins and can be found under the skin. When the patient is in a supine position they may be less visible, but when they are standing upright for a short amount of time they "fill up" and are easily noticeable.

Varicose veins are a more serious condition compared to spider veins. The symptoms, however, which may accompany varicose veins and spider veins, sometimes do not match the severity of the patient's condition.

There are cases where patients with particularly visible varicose veins hardly experience any symptoms and, in contrast, it is quite common to have patients with spider veins who might suffer almost daily because of them.

Both conditions are due to the same problem - abnormal blood flow through the pathological veins. Moreover, it is very common for patients with varicose veins to also have spider veins - indeed, the opposite is rather rare.

Warning signs or symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency:

1. The presence of varicose veins or spider veins. Varicose and spider veins are almost always visible to the naked eye. Therefore, if someone is able to see spider veins and/or varicose veins in their legs, the answer to the question of whether they are suffering from venous insufficiency is quite simple: THEY DO!
2. Leg pain or discomfort. Do you usually feel leg pain, burning, itching, heaviness, cramping or numbness, especially after a prolonged period of standing or sitting? It is very possible that you suffer from venous insufficiency.
3. Leg or ankle swelling (oedema). Leg swelling, especially if it is particularly pronounced in the evening and aggravated by standing, might be the result of venous insufficiency. It usually begins in the area of the ankles and later extends upwards. It should be noted that many conditions cause swelling, such as heart, kidney, and liver diseases, or hormonal disorders. In most of these cases oedema can be found on both legs as opposed to oedema caused by venous insufficiency, which is usually more pronounced in the more affected limb.
4. Tired or heavy legs. If your leg get easily tired after moderate activity or after a short period of standing, is possible that you suffer from venous insufficiency.
5. Skin color changes in legs. The presence of irritation, redness or inflammation of the skin around the ankles or the calf may be related to venous insufficiency. In the course of time, venous insufficiency may lead to the occurrence of dark brown spots. These can be small or larger while they might occur massively in some areas. This condition is called hyperpigmentation. In advanced conditions of venous insufficiency the skin can become very hard and brittle. These changes are related to a condition called lipodermatosclerosis.
6. Presence of legs wounds. These wounds occur almost exclusively in the ankle area or on the lower calf. It is particularly significant that they are not easily healed and there might be a recurrence - they occur repeatedly in the same area. This is usually indication of chronic venous insufficiency, which has not been properly treated for a long space of time. Other rarer causes of their occurrence are arterial insufficiency and vasculitis. The treatment of venous ulcers can be time consuming. In any case, the treatment of the cause -venous insufficiency- promotes healing and, most of all, prevents any recurrence.
7. Night cramps or burning sensation in the legs. There are patients who feel an uncomfortable burning sensation or even pain in the legs, especially towards the end of the day and during night rest. These symptoms are typical of a syndrome called Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), which has commonly appeared in medical studies to be related to the existence of venous insufficiency. The successful treatment of venous insufficiency in these patients often leads to significant improvement of the symptoms related to the syndrome.

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