A feeling of discomfort in your legs may be a sign of an underlying venous disorder. These symptoms include tired and achy legs. You may experience them especially when sitting or standing for prolongued hours. During summer time, those symptoms may increase due to the heat. These symptoms are typically associated with swollen feet and ankles (especially in the evening).
As for edemas (swellings) that occur after several hours spent in transportation (airplane, car, train, bus), some easy tips will help you travel long distance with more comfort (see Travel).
Night cramps are seldom from venous origin. It is important to know that leg pains are not all of venous origin. It is therefore recommended to see your doctor in order for him/her to do a diagnosis and to propose the right treatment for you.
Those are small, dilated superficial veins. Also known as teleangiectasias, they may be located in different areas of the leg. When found on thighs, they mostly represent just an esthetic problem. However, when located at the ankle, they may represent a serious venous insufficiency. A visit to your physician can detect a possible venous insufficiency. And finally, for esthetic reasons, spider veins can be removed by various simple procedures.
Varicose veins are the sign of a more serious venous disease. A varicose vein is a dilated and tortuous superficial vein with defective valves. As a result, the blood in these veins flows backward. This condition is known as blood reflux. Varicose veins can be painful, or on the contrary totally painless. We can find them on the foot, the calf, the thigh or on the entire leg. If not treated varicose veins can lead to serious complications (see also Varicose Veins).
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)
The term "chronic venous insufficiency" implies a functional abnormality of the venous system, and is usually reserved for more advanced disease, including edema, skin changes or venous ulcers.
The edema of the lower leg occurs when the blood stagnates in the superficial and/or deep veins of the leg. The capillaries can no longer play their role. Water and waste build up in the skin in the lower leg and induce a venous edema (swelling of the foot and the ankle). However, not all edemas are of venous origin. Consult your physician for proper diagnosis.
Wearing SIGVARIS compression stocking will reduce or completely eliminate the edema. The pressure required will be determined by the physician as it depends on the underlying condition.
The venous statis leads to inflammatory reactions in the skin which may also cause eczema. This is an example of what specialists call a stasis dermatitis.
Brownish darkening of skin, resulting from extravasated blood. Usually occurs in ankle region, but may extend to leg and foot (1). The pigmentation will remain even after removal of the responsible varicose veins by surgery or sclerotherapy.
This term refers to an inflammation of the skin and underlying tissue, a thickening of the skin and a light to dark brown discoloration all found on the lower part of the leg.
Localized, often circular whitish and atrophic skin areas surrounded by dilated capillaries and sometimes hyperpigmentation.
Full-thickness defect of skin, most frequently in ankle region, that fails to heal spontaneously and is sustained by CVD (1).
A leg ulcer is an open wound. It comes most of the time behind and above the ankle on the internal side of the leg. The ulcer is caused by venous stasis which is slow blood flow in the veins. Because the defective veins can no longer assume a good blood return, the cellular wastes are not well cleared up and trigger a toxic environment which prevents healing.
A vicious cycle between chronic venous hypertension and secondary local phenomena develops. Therefore, ulcers will only heal when the venous hypertension is controlled either by eliminating the responsible varicose vein(s) or by applying very strong compression which is usually required when deep veins are affected.
Only a doctor can prescribe the adapted treatment after all necessary exams are performed to identify the exact origin of the ulcer.
(1) Eklof B, Rutherford RB, Bergan JJ, Carpentier PH, Glovicski P, Kistner RL, et al. Revision of the CEAP Classification of Chronic Venous Disorders: Consensus Statement. J Vasc Sur 2004;40:1248-52.