Ever noticed a traffic policeman standing on the road for long hours?
A lot of cases come to us where the patient complains of severe pain in the legs on standing accompanied by itches and restlessness in the legs and swollen ankles. On close inspection,dilated tortuous veins can be seen all over their legs. These are varicose veins.They are commonly referred to veins of the leg but can also occur elsewhere.
There are two venous systems in our body; one is the superficial other is deep. The flow of blood in the lower limb is from the superficial system to the deep system of veins. And these two systems connected by valves. When these valves become incompetent, blood starts flowing backwards making the veins more prominent and leading to complications (normally the arteries carry oxygenated blood downwards to the extremities and the veins carry de-oxygenated blood back to the heart via a venous pump which works against gravity).
The basic reason for the complications in the varicose veins is failure of the valves. Mechanism of valve failure has many theories, but the most common one is the appearance of small gap between the valve cusps at the commissures (where valve leaflets join the vein wall). This gap widens slowly and the valve cusps degenerate and more reverse flow of blood occurs. The vein below the valve responds by dilating. Prolonged standing can put the pressure gradient between the deep and the superficial venous system off balance and is one of the most apparent and the one of the most important etiology of this condition.
Sometimes patients come to us with no other external symptoms apart from unsightly cosmetic appearance. Symptoms or no symptoms consult your doctor immediately as soon as you see bluish dilated venous markings over your legs. Early treatment of varicose veins is only conservative solution that can save you a lot of trouble later on.
Complications like venous eczema, lipodermatosclerosis, and venous ulceration, indicate advanced stage of the disease and require surgeries like sclerotherapy(non-invasive,just shrinks the vein) or invasive vein ligation.
Elevating the legs while sleeping, and wearing pressure stockings are enough to treat it in the early stages. Recurrences are common hence the patient has to be aware and take care not to stand for long hours.
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©The Idea Bucket, 2012. (Submitted by team-member, Pallavi)