Varicose veins - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Medications and Alternative Treatment

Every fourth inhabitant of the planet is diagnosed with varicose veins, the symptoms of which are not only a cosmetic defect, but a high risk of thrombosis. Varicose veins in the lower extremities and other organs have several classifications due to different causes and many possibilities for the course of the disease. If the pathology is not treated, complications lead to disruption of venous blood flow, the occurrence of trophic ulcers, blue discoloration of the organs, and necrosis.

What is varicose veins

From a medical point of view, varicose veins are the elongation and expansion of the vessels of the lower limbs with the gradual thinning of the venous wall. The starting point of the pathology is valve failure, which is the main cause of stagnation. Hemodynamic pressure disrupts the balance of collagen, muscle cells, and elastic fibers, leading to an increase in wall thickness. If the muscle pump is insufficient, stagnation occurs, causing a violation of reverse blood flow and varicose veins.

Symptoms of varicose veins

Even in the initial stage, it is difficult not to notice the symptoms of the pathology. At first, there is pain in the lower extremity varicose veins following intense physical activity, a feeling of heaviness, a burning sensation along the veins, and swelling of the lower leg. The picture doesn’t look too aesthetic. Other symptoms of varicose veins depend on the degree of pathology:

  1. First degree.The patient does not experience severe discomfort. Mild swelling and pain only appear in the evening.
  2. Second degree.The legs are swollen, venous mesh manifests, cramps occur at night. The valves in the superficial veins shrink, resulting in damage to blood flow.
  3. Third degree.The pigmentation of the skin on the legs increases, swelling of the legs and feet appears, pain syndrome and general weakness are constantly present.
  4. Fourth grade.Ulcerative defects develop that damage soft tissues (trophic ulcers) and external bleeding occurs. Tearing of the varicose vein is possible.

Signs of varicose veins in the legs

People often associate varicose veins on the legs with other pathologies. Only a doctor can accurately diagnose the disease. First signs of varicose veins:

  • lower limb pain with prolonged walking and / or morning pain;
  • appearance of spider veins on the skin of the lower leg, thigh;
  • cyanosis of the surface layers of the epidermis over damaged veins;
  • bloating, difficulty in calf muscles.

If the patient does not pay attention to the first signs of variation (dilation) of the veins, pain will occur along the venous trunks and increased pigmentation will appear on the skin. Dermatitis and eczema are associated with the disease. The varicose nodules protrude above the surface of the lower leg and the skin of the foot. With marked pathology, complications dangerous to human health develop.

manifestation of varicose veins in the legs

The reasons

The provocative factors for varicose veins are numerous. These are genetics, obesity, pregnancy, childbirth. However, doctors believe that the main causes of varicose veins are:

  • hereditary predisposition;
  • congenital valve pathology;
  • regular use of hormonal contraceptives;
  • prolonged stay on your feet;
  • sedentary lifestyle;
  • enlarged uterus;
  • a malignancy that interferes with the normal outflow of venous blood;
  • endocrine disorders;
  • hormonal system failure.

Classification

The exact classification of the pathology can be established after dynamic complete examination and observation. The types of varicose veins are divided according to the location of the superficial or deep veins. The varicose veins of the lower extremities are classified according to several aspects:

  • the severity of venous insufficiency;
  • the volume of the lesion;
  • the severity of the pathology;
  • configuration of ectasized areas;
  • look;
  • the presence of hemodynamic disorders.

Stages of varicose veins

According to the international classification, varicose veins have three stages, each of which has its own characteristics:

  1. Compensation phase.It lasts for months or even years. The pronounced manifestations of the pathology may be completely absent. Among the visual symptoms, the appearance of tortuous veins is possible.
  2. Subcompensation phase.It can take several years. Severe deformation of the perforating veins develops, accompanied by harmful blood flow. On the tibia, the skin turns purple-brown.
  3. Decompensation phase.All clinical manifestations worsen, edema persists, and long-term non-healing trophic ulcers develop.

Complications

The most common complication of varicose veins is considered to be chronic venous insufficiency, when the blood vessels are unable to feed the soft tissues of the lower extremities normally. Phlebitis also often occurs due to strong dilation of the lumen of the veins. The disease affects many blood vessels that are located close to the surface of the skin. If the inflammation of the veins is not treated, the phlebitis spreads deep into the body. Thrombophlebitis is a pathology that affects a quarter of people with varicose veins.

The most dangerous complication of varicose veins is thrombosis. The resulting thrombus can clog the blood vessel, leading to gangrene and amputation of the leg. When a blood clot comes down from the deep veins of the lower extremities, it goes through the bloodstream first into the heart and then into the lungs - a symptom of thromboembolism. In the pulmonary artery, the clot gets stuck, reducing the oxygen supply to the atrium. In the case of a large blood clot, a fatal outcome is possible.

phlebitis on the legs as a complication of varicose veins

Diagnostics

The first time you develop a varicose vein, you should consult a surgeon, neurologist, or phlebologist. The doctor will be able to make the correct diagnosis after the diagnosis. The gold standard for detecting venous abnormalities is the process of ultrasound duplex scanning. In this method, the doctor sees an accurate picture of the deformity of the veins in each area. Laboratory testing of blood, urine and hormone levels is an integral part of the diagnosis. The most important analysis is the coagulation index. It is used to properly assess the risk of thrombophlebitis and thrombosis.

Varicose veins treatment on the legs

A comprehensive treatment program for varicose veins should include a diet because obesity is a major risk factor for varicose veins. Smoking cessation is also included in the treatment regimen because carbon dioxide spasms blood vessels, increasing the risk of secondary complications (stroke, heart attack). Wearing compression underwear is also an excellent option for getting rid of pathology at an early stage, but the main treatment for varicose veins is drug and / or surgical therapy.

Conservative treatment

To alleviate the patient’s condition, doctors prescribe topical and systemic medications, compression therapy, and special practices. Although conservative measures do not completely rid the patient of varicose veins, they do help relieve symptoms and prevent complications. Decongestants protect against edema, reduce abnormal permeability of venous walls, and counteract fluid accumulation. Drugs that improve blood circulation, normalize oxygen metabolism in tissues, and have a protective effect against free radicals.

Medicines

Various classes of drugs are used to treat varicose veins, including anticoagulants, phleboprotectors, platelet antiplatelet agents, and antihistamines. For topical therapy, corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory, systemic enzymes are used.

Diet

For varicose veins to be effective, food must be compensated for in terms of caloric intake, i. e. , the energy consumed should not exceed the body’s energy needs. In addition, peppers, marinades, hot seasonings, smoked meats should be excluded from the menu, the amount of salt and the consumption of animal fats should be reduced. It is advisable to give up alcohol. Foods needed in the diet:

  • a large number of vegetables and fruits;
  • sea fish, seafood;
  • coarse bread;
  • vegetable oils;
  • nuts.
vegetables and fruits while dieting for varicose veins

Compression therapy

Good option for prevention and complex therapy of varicose veins. The therapeutic effect is due to the constriction of dilated veins, which redistributes the bloodstream. The action includes stockings, knee-length pants, tights with different pressure parameters, model options and colors. It is necessary to wear compression stockings in the morning before getting straight, until the venous system is full of blood and should be worn until evening.

Surgery

If conservative treatment of varicose veins in the legs does not work and the presence of blood clots increases the risk of complications, the doctor will refer for surgery. There are several methods for surgical intervention of varicose veins:

  1. Combined phlebectomy.The classic option whose main task is to eliminate reflux. The veins are removed with small incisions.
  2. Endovascular electrocoagulation.This involves removing the subcutaneous vessels with electricity.
  3. Cryosurgery.It allows the affected veins to be removed due to the low temperature.
  4. Intraoperative sclerobliteration.The essence of sclerotherapy is to inject catheters into the saphenous veins of special sclerosing agents.
  5. Endoscopic autopsy.Using probes, the doctor binds the affected veins and removes them from the bloodstream.
  6. Laser coagulation.The vein is sealed with a laser beam from the inside and excluded from the general circulation.

Traditional methods

Varicose veins cannot be cured by folk recipes, but can be helped by complex therapy. The most common tools are:

  1. Burdock.Keep a clean sheet of the plant over the steam to keep it hot, then apply it to the affected vein with a compress and secure it with a bandage. The procedure should be performed at bedtime. The course includes 5 compressions that are applied every other night.
  2. Marigold oil extract.Pour the flowers of the plant (50 g) with any vegetable oil (500 g) and simmer in a water bath for half an hour. Insist for an hour, then filter and rub every day before going to bed in sore areas. Tie the top with a woolen scarf and leave overnight. The course of treatment is 1 month.

Prophylaxis

To avoid the severe consequences of varicose veins, it is important to take preventive measures in a timely manner:

  • normalization of body weight;
  • prevents hypodynamics;
  • wear compression underwear;
  • apply creams and ointments - venotonic;
  • avoid mechanical damage to the legs;
  • prevents an increase in the load on the lower extremities;
  • Ultrasound the veins once every 2 years.

Photograph of varicose veins of lower limbs

photo of varicose veins on the leg