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What is Vein Disease?

L. Hepfer
L. Hepfer

The veins in our body play an extremely vital role in carrying the blood to the heart. Their primary function is to pump blood back into the heart once it has been throughout the body. When this function is altered or limited in any way, problems begin to arise and vein disease can develop.

Vein disease is caused by an insufficient blood flow back to the heart. Blood flows upward from the legs and into the heart, defying the pull of gravity. If the valves in the veins do not close properly once the blood has been pumped through, the blood can flow backward and gather in the legs, causing abnormalities within the circulatory system.

Varicose veins bulge out of the skin.
Varicose veins bulge out of the skin.

Vein disease may be caused by birth defects, an infection or an injury. People who are pregnant or obese are more susceptible to vein disease because of the pressure and added work the pregnancy places on the legs. Vein disease is hereditary and people who have parents or grandparents with vein disease may be at a higher risk.

Spider veins and varicose veins are two different types of vein disease. While most people seek treatment for these problems for cosmetic purposes, these conditions can worsen over time and cause serious medical complications. Varicose veins can grow and bulge out of the skin and may eventually lead to thrombosis. Thrombosis is a serious medical condition that develops blood clots that could eventually travel to the lungs or heart and become life threatening. Serious conditions of the skin like cellulitis can develop as well.

Compression stockings are frequently used to treat various vein diseases.
Compression stockings are frequently used to treat various vein diseases.

Signs of vein disease include tired, weak or achy legs. Swelling may occur around the ankles and feet, making the legs feel heavier as the day progresses. These symptoms may occur after long periods of standing. Resting with the legs elevated can help to alleviate the swelling and any pain associated with the swelling, but it will not cure the problem. A discoloration of skin may be present in the legs where the varicose veins are located.

The treatment for vein disease can vary depending on the severity of a person's situation. A physician will be able to decide which treatment will work best for each individual suffering from vein disease. Methods of treatment can include wearing compression stockings, undergoing simple medical procedures or laser therapy. Getting the proper treatment can eliminate the pain and problems associated with the disease and help a person live a normal, healthy lifestyle.

Discussion Comments


@indigomoth - As long as you are relatively active you aren't at that much risk of developing a clot. Doctors have to be super careful about that sort of thing, so they don't get sued.

That being said, getting a clot in your leg is very dangerous, as it says in the article. If you feel your leg grow hot and swollen without being injured, you should get yourself to hospital right away.

That goes for other people at risk as well, like those with varicose veins and so forth.

The more quickly you get the clot removed, the less likely it will shift to your lungs or your brain.


Thrombosis is serious stuff. My birth control pills apparently put me at a higher risk of developing it.

In fact, the doctor said if you smoke, or if you weigh too much, they won't even put you on certain kinds of pill, just because you are at such risk of developing a clot in your veins.

For a while I was really nervous about it. But I just don't think about it too much now.

I'm still careful whenever I go on a long flight or something to take a walk about the cabin every few hours and do exercises though. Because I really don't want to get a clot.

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    • Varicose veins bulge out of the skin.
      By: roblan
      Varicose veins bulge out of the skin.
    • Compression stockings are frequently used to treat various vein diseases.
      By: nito
      Compression stockings are frequently used to treat various vein diseases.