Varicose veins of the legs: causes, main symptoms and treatment

Varicose veins in the lower extremities of the legs are a disease that is accompanied by dilation of the superficial vessels and nodes of the large or small vascular system, thinning of the walls and increase in length, valve insufficiency, venous blood circulation and tissue nutrition. Translated from Latin, the name "varicose veins" means "swelling". This venous disease has been known since the first written language and has accompanied mankind for centuries. The disease is widespread in both men (67%) and women (90%). In recent years, researchers have claimed that the spread of the disease has increased. In most cases, a chronic form of the disease is observed in adulthood.

The first symptoms of the disease may already appear in adolescence and worsen and develop over the years. The main threat to life is represented by complications that develop on the background of varicose veins.

The main causes of varicose veins of the legs

The main causes of varicose veins in the legs are:

  1. Constipation.
  2. Wrong treatment.
  3. Lack of training.
  4. Smoking and alcohol abuse.
  5. Narrow shoes.
  6. Pregnancy.
  7. Obesity.
  8. Stand for a long time.
  9. Congenital weakness of connective tissue.
  10. Diabetes.
  11. Diseases of the cardiovascular system and kidneys.
  12. Injury or surgery on the limbs.

The disease manifests itself after 30 years. Causes of varicose veins in the legs can also be congenital predisposition, weakness of the venous walls, frequent use of hormonal drugs, allergies, disorders of the immune system, dermatitis or cellulite. Genetic inheritance also plays an important role in this issue. Parents who have varicose veins 70% of the time pass the disease on to their children.

Other causes of varicose veins of the lower extremities

There are many factors that contribute to the development of the disease, but the main cause of the symptoms of varicose veins in the legs is the failure of the valves of the venous system. For this reason, there is a failure in the blood flow in the limbs and there is dilation of the arteries and veins. Blood flow is impossible to bypass the arteries, and inertia is directed to the lower extremities. Thus, the legs run and the venous system fails, which can lead to a complex form of the disease.

The most common cause of varicose veins in the lower extremities is standing for long periods of time or wearing anatomically incorrectly fitted shoes. Thus, the vascular system of the legs has a great load that can damage the whole body by affecting the cardiovascular system, the musculoskeletal system and the skin.

Initial symptoms of varicose veins of the lower extremities and photos of vascular disease in the leg

The first signs of varicose veins of the legs are:

  • Swelling of the lower leg, feet and ankles at the end of the day.
  • Feeling of "bursting" of calf muscles after physical exertion or prolonged sitting.

At the onset and onset of the disease, there may be no signs of external changes in the arteries and veins, or they may be poorly expressed.

In the absence of therapy, the symptoms of varicose veins of the lower extremities tend to worsen over time. Symptoms in the future include:

  1. Painful pain in the calf muscles.
  2. A burning sensation and heaviness.
  3. Dryness and peeling of the skin accompanied by pigmentation.
  4. Nocturnal cramps.
  5. Formation of red-blue capillaries.
  6. Dilation of blood vessels and the formation of nodules.
  7. Wound formation.

The main symptoms in the development of varicose veins of the lower extremities are protrusions and nodular swelling along the veins. Pain and heaviness in the legs, feeling of heat and burning along the veins, night cramps in the legs and swelling in the evening, decreases in the morning. The disease develops slowly - for years, sometimes decades.

In the future, the skin turns blue, then the skin of the legs darkens and thickens. In more advanced cases, trophic ulcers occur.

At the first symptoms of varicose veins in the legs, treatment is prescribed by a specialist in the treatment of vascular diseases of the lower extremities - a phlebologist.

The causes of symptoms of varicose veins in the legs in the form of blue-red swelling and nodules are associated not only with impaired blood flow, but also with dysfunction of vascular valves that are not able to "pump". blood up. Therefore, there is a risk of life-threatening blood clots.

The risk of developing the disease is people who suffer from parasitic infestations. There may be chlamydia, fungi, Trichomonas and the like.

See a photo of the main symptoms of varicose veins developing in the legs below:

healthy legs and varicose veins in the legs

Four types of varicose veins of the lower extremities

Conventionally, doctors divide the disease into four types, each of which differs in severity and location. Types of varicose veins of the lower extremities:

  • Reticular.
  • Segmental.
  • Trunk.
  • The hole.

Reticular varicose veins are the mildest form of the disease, affecting small capillaries up to 3 mm long. It is considered a cosmetic problem because it can be easily treated.

The segmental form of the disease affects the arteries. As a rule, it is a serious form of the disease before complications.

Trunk varicose veins are a type of disease that affects the trunks of small and large sapenous veins. A characteristic feature is the lack of valves that cause the arteries to grow.

The perforation type of the disease affects the vessels that connect the superficial vessels and the deep sapenous vessels.

Degrees of varicose veins of the lower extremities: stages of leg vascular disease

The disease is classified according to the stages of development of varicose veins of the legs:

  • Compensation phase.
  • Subcompensation phase.
  • Decompensation phase.

The compensation phase is the easiest treatment. All symptoms are latent or mild. In terms of timing, it is difficult to give an unequivocal answer to this question. The latent period can last from 2 to 8 years.

The subcompensation phase is characterized by obvious symptoms and more complex treatment. The cycle of drug treatment is to wear a compression bandage, take pills and use external substances (ointments, gels, etc. ). However, in the absence of an appropriate result, surgery is mandatory.

The third stage of the disease is irreversible and requires immediate treatment with surgery. If this stage develops, serious complications can occur, which can require a lot of time and effort to treat.

As the disease progresses, it is divided into several degrees, which replace each other in the absence of effective treatment, resulting in serious complications.

The first stage of the development of varicose veins of the lower extremities can be considered the beginning of the disease in the body when there are no external factors and manifestations, but there is already a problem in the circulatory system. The only symptoms that betray the abnormality in the body are swelling and pain in the legs.

In the second stage, small areas are already visible with the vasodilation of the capillaries. It can be presented both individually and as a segment. The mesh is sparse and thin, usually light blue or red. Pain in the legs and a feeling of "cotton" limbs are a concern from time to time.

The third degree of development of varicose veins of the lower extremities is characterized by venous damage manifested in the form of blue nodules or swelling. Swelling of venous nodules increases after physical exertion, prolonged standing or sitting. From this stage there is a risk of blood clots.

The fourth degree of development of varicose veins in the legs is characterized not only by venous and capillary dilation, but also by regular pain in the leg muscles, swelling and fatigue in the limbs. All these symptoms become more pronounced and frequent, especially at the end of the day.

Stage five varicose veins in the legs are characterized by the appearance of trophic changes associated with a lack of blood supply. Excessively accumulated pigment stains the affected areas of the limbs brown and dark blue. In parallel, an inflammatory process of the skin develops, accompanied by the formation of white, slightly sunken spots.

In the sixth stage of development of varicose veins of the lower extremities, the formation of trophic ulcers is observed. This is the most severe form of the disease, which can be fatal.

For a detailed study, see a photo of the stages of localized varicose veins in the legs:

stages of development of varicose veins in the legs

Complications of vascular disease: deep varicose veins of the lower extremities

A negligent form or improper treatment are the causes of complications of varicose veins in the legs. Against the background of varicose veins develops thrombophlebitis (inflammation of the inner wall of the vessel as a result of blood clots). Possible separation of the blood clot from the vessel wall threatens thromboembolism (blockage) of the pulmonary artery.

If the diameter of the thrombus coincides with the diameter of the trunk of this artery, sudden death can occur. If the thrombus is smaller in diameter, it then travels to the branches of the pulmonary artery and provokes a heart attack or pulmonary edema.

Trophic ulcers, eczema, edema, dermatitis may develop as a result of disruption of tissue oxygen supply. Another possible complication is deep varicose veins in the lower extremities. It is characterized by the defeat of the deepest circulatory systems with subsequent swelling and compression.

Externally, this form of the disease may not be as obvious as superficial varicose veins, but it is less dangerous to health.

Diagnosis of varicose veins of the legs

The following are used to diagnose the disease.

  • Examination of superficial vessels.
  • Palpation.
  • Combined (functional) tests.
  • Duplex ultrasound scan of blood vessels (ultrasound angioscanning).
  • Doppler ultrasound.

In case of deep vascular damage, phlebography and phleboscintigraphy are added to the above methods.

The main functional test used to diagnose the disease is the Barrow-Sheinis three-wire test. Its essence is to study the activity of venous valves by applying tourniquets to certain areas of the lower extremities.

The sample is considered positive if, during the analysis, venous nodules appear above or in the interval between dressings.

At the first signs and symptoms of varicose veins in the legs, treatment is determined on the basis of duplex ultrasound, which allows to study in detail the appearance of the veins, the speed and direction of blood flow. This is a modern diagnostic method widely used in medicine. Thanks to it, it is possible to determine the location of stagnant blood flow and venous valves.

  • Doppler ultrasound examination- Ultrasound method for the study of vascular diseases based on the Doppler effect (changes in the frequency of waves depending on the speed of movement of particles).
  • PhlebographyIt is an X-ray method for the examination of the vascular system based on the introduction of X-ray contrast agent into the studied area, which allows the image of blood vessels and capillaries.
  • Phleboscintigraphy- diagnostic method based on the use of radionuclide isotopes.

A drug for the treatment of varicose veins of the lower extremities

All methods of treatment of varicose veins of the lower extremities can be divided into two groups:

  • Conservative.
  • Surgery.

Conservative treatment of varicose veins begins with wearing medical therapy with compression stockings (socks, tights) and venotonic drugs. The effectiveness of treatment of varicose veins in the lower extremities has been proven since ancient times. This reduces the diameter of the vessels, increases blood flow, improves the function of venous valves and eliminates swelling.

In cases of complications (thrombophlebitis), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed for varicose veins of the lower extremities. These are ointments and gels. Anticoagulants are prescribed in the later stages of the disease to dissolve and prevent blood clots. Treatment of leprosy with thrombophlebitis is effective.

Medical treatment of varicose veins of the lower extremities is aimed at strengthening the walls of venous vessels, for this purpose, special drugs are used.

It is common to use ointments and gels to relieve swelling and fatigue during therapy. The most appropriate medication will be selected by a specialist.

Drugs for the treatment of varicose veins of the legs: drugs that prevent thrombosis of the lower extremities

Venotonic tablets are used to treat varicose veins in the legs, improve blood circulation, restore vascular tone and lymphoid fluid flow.

Drugs that protect varicose veins in the legs from thrombosis, thin the blood by preventing the formation of clots. The main component of the drug is aspirin.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat varicose veins in the legs. Such drugs are used in a complex course of therapy to relieve feelings of heaviness and fatigue.

Surgical methods for the treatment of varicose veins of the legs

If drug treatment does not help, surgery is performed (removal of the affected vessels or application of solutions that stick the walls of the affected vessel together). Surgical methods for the treatment of varicose veins in the legs include:

  • Phlebectomy.
  • Laser coagulation of varicose veins.
  • Radiofrequency coagulation of varicose veins.
  • Sclerotherapy.

Phlebectomy is aimed at restoring blood flow and removing varicose veins. Surgery does not take more than 2 hours, scarring is minimal (the length of one scar is 3-5 mm), blood loss reaches 10%.

Laser coagulation of varicose veins helps to effectively treat varicose veins in the legs using laser thermal radiation, which affects the walls of the veins, resulting in the appearance of a connecting cord to the vein.

Radiofrequency coagulation of varicose veins is the most modern and least traumatic treatment. Its essence is the effect of radio waves because they are trapped in the inner walls of blood vessels.

Sclerotherapy is based on the use of a special drug (sclerosant) in which thin needles are injected into the affected vessels. Used for varicose veins in the legs, this drug creates a blockage that blocks blood flow. The walls of the veins stick together and the varicose vein is removed from the circulatory system. After a while, it turns into a thin strip of connective tissue that is completely invisible under the skin.

How to treat varicose veins of the legs at home: ointments, tinctures and decoctions

In addition to standard medicine, there are alternative treatments for the disease. But remember: consult a specialist before trying to treat varicose veins at home.

A common method to treat varicose veins is horse chestnut. Based on this, a tincture is prepared for both external and internal use. To prepare the product, peel the chestnuts and cover with a glass of vodka. Insist in a dark place for 14–15 days. Lubricate your lower legs to improve blood flow after a contrasting foot bath. Or take 30 drops 3 times a day after meals.

Calendula source activates collagen production and helps to improve. To prepare the product, infuse dried flowers in a ratio of 1: 4, apply to the affected areas with a cotton swab.

Remember that treatment is prescribed only by a doctor. Self-diagnosis methods can worsen the condition of blood vessels. Do not risk your health and consult a medical professional.

Nutrition for varicose veins of the legs: a diet for vascular disease of the lower extremities

Nutrition for varicose veins of the legs aims to achieve several goals:

  • Get rid of extra pounds.
  • Eliminate swelling.
  • Strengthen the walls of blood vessels.
  • Blood thinning.

When you are overweight, treatment of varicose veins is practically ineffective. Therefore, weight loss is an integral part of therapy.

Eliminating swelling in the legs will help normalize the body's water balance. Reducing blood viscosity will lower blood pressure and improve blood circulation.

Principles of nutrition in the case of varicose veins of the lower extremities:

  • Meals should be fractional and frequent (up to 5 times a day).
  • Breakfast is a very important meal - it can either make or break your day.
  • Dinner should be at least 4 hours before bedtime.
  • Do not drink water with food during meals - it dilutes gastric juice and worsens the absorption of trace elements.

For varicose veins of the lower extremities, you need a diet: vitamin C (citrus fruits, tomatoes, rose hips), vitamin E (legumes, liver, egg yolks, green onions), vitamin P (grapefruit, walnuts, black currants), bioflavonoids (dark cherries, cucumber cherries), copper (seafood). The daily amount of fluid should be at least 1. 5 liters. Severe restrictions on the use of alcoholic beverages, coffee, pickles, smoked meat.

Seafood is a favorite in a diet that promotes the production of elastin, which helps strengthen the walls of blood vessels. The same property is owned by seaweed. In addition, these products contain bioflavonoids that tend to have a positive effect on the improvement of venous walls.

In the case of varicose veins in the legs, according to experts in the diet, special attention is paid to a number of products that are most effective in preventing complications. These are:

  • Blueberries.
  • Avocado.
  • It's beets.
  • Rosemary.
  • Ginger root.
  • Buckwheat.

Blueberries are rich in collagen, which helps strengthen blood vessels. In addition, the fruits are rich in vitamin E and pectin.

Avocados contain large amounts of vitamins E and C, which are needed for venous diseases, and glutathione, which helps absorb them.

Beets contain betasyanide, which significantly reduces blood levels of homocysteine, which damages the walls of blood vessels.

Regular use of rosemary strengthens the venous walls. In addition, the spice goes well with both meat and fish.

Moderate use of ginger improves blood microcirculation and reduces vascular pain. This effect on the body is explained by the ability of the product to dissolve excess fibrin in the form of varicose veins. It is a substance that does not break down in the body and helps to thicken blood vessels due to its excess.

Buckwheat is considered the most useful among cereals. This is because it contains a number of amino acids, large amounts of rutin and protein. It is a dietary product that helps to normalize weight and replenish the body with the necessary microorganisms.

Prevention of the development of varicose veins in the legs

Exercise (swimming, cycling, skiing) is very effective in preventing varicose veins in the legs. If you are sedentary, take a short break during the day. To do this, you can do simple leg exercises. For example, when sitting in a chair, lift your socks and knees 10-15 times to improve blood flow. Or stand up and stretch your toes a few times.

Exercise is equally important for those who are on their feet during the day. The simplest and least effective way to relieve swelling and stress in the arteries is to keep your feet in a horizontal position for 7-8 minutes a day. To do this, just lie on your back and place your lower limbs on the wall or behind the sofa. Thus, under the influence of gravity, blood flows to the heart.

Another recommendation to prevent the disease is to rest at night and wake up. During sleep, your feet should be about 20 ° above your head, try to get out of bed slowly in the morning, walk quietly during the day, do not sit on your feet. A contrast shower is very useful (a gradual decrease in water temperature until it cools down).

As a prophylaxis for the development of varicose veins in the legs, it is useful to rub with an alcohol tincture of oak bark, chestnut, chamomile, warm foot baths from a mixture of St. John's wort, white acacia flowers, Kalanchoe leaves and apple cider vinegar. . A short hydromassage course that can be done at home is allowed.

In any case, if you have an early stage of the disease, you should not try cosmetic procedures such as waxing, scrubbing, enzyme and quantum hair removal, tweezers. All of these methods to combat hair growth on the legs have a traumatic effect on the walls of blood vessels.

If you are prone to this disease, you should not try tattooing your feet. This will intensify the development of the disease and can lead to venous infection from unsterilized instruments.