Symptoms of vein disease can range from small cosmetic concerns or early signs such as leg pain to physically disabling issues including ulcers and immobility. When left untreated, varicose veins can lead to more serious concerns due to the progressive nature of the disease. Among these concerns are painful skin ulcers, blood clots, and bleeding.
Skin changes in the lower legs may be a sign of vein disease whether or not any visible varicose veins are present. A common sign of vein disease is a darkening of the skin in the lower leg or venous stasis dermatitis. Your skin might appear red, brown, shiny, or irritated. It may even appear to have a rash that is very difficult to heal.
Bleeding in the Legs
Patients with undiagnosed vein disease can develop episodes of spontaneous bleeding from surface veins on their legs. The bleeding can be significant, but it is usually painless. Many people experience this bleeding after bathing or accidental injury (from clothing, bedding, pets, or brushing against furniture). If you notice bleeding from your legs around areas with veins, be sure to take immediate action by elevating your leg, applying pressure, and seeking medical help.
Many patients with vein disease complain of a sensation of restlessness, or the constant urge to move their legs. These symptoms occur more often at night and could be the result of inefficient blood flow in the legs because of poorly functioning veins. This condition is formally referred to as restless leg syndrome (RLS), and it affects approximately 15% of Americans.
Edema is swelling caused by an abnormal build-up of fluid in the body’s tissues. It most commonly presents as swelling in the lower legs, calves, ankles, and feet and can be a sign of vein disease. Most often, swelling is caused by dysfunction of the lymph system. This swelling can be associated with vein disease when poor circulation causes fluid to accumulate in the tissues beneath the skin.
A varicocele is a varicose vein in the testicle and scrotum. Just as with vein disease of the legs, one-way valves become damaged and allow blood to pool. In the case of varicoceles, the valves that allow blood to flow from the testicles and scrotum back to the heart become damaged, which can cause pain in or around the testicles. The result is backward blood flow that causes the vein to become enlarged and may be painful.
Often times, patients with vein disease will notice tingling, burning, itching or numbness in their legs or feet. This itching sometimes leads to dry skin or a rash called venous eczema. The burning sensation may also be accompanied by a throbbing feeling, and the skin may feel slightly numb or warm to the touch. Itching and/or burning on the legs can be a sign of vein disease whether or not varicose veins or spider veins are present. Patients with diabetes are 10 times more likely to have vein disease than the general population.
The most severe stage of vein disease occurs when poor circulation from unhealthy veins causes sustained high pressure and low oxygen supply to the lower extremity tissues. This abnormal environment sets the stage for leg wounds known as leg ulcers.Treating underlying vein disease not only helps to heal venous leg ulcers but also significantly lowers the risk for ulcer recurrence as compared to ulcer treatment by wound care alone. Diabetes can cause also changes in the skin, and particularly of the foot. The nerves that control oil and moisture in the foot may no longer work due to neuropathy, so the skin may become very dry, peel and crack.
People with diabetes can develop many different foot problems. Poor circulation because of diabetes can also cause the foot to develop calluses or ulcers. Any patient who has diabetes should pay immediate attention any kind of wound—no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. That’s because, in diabetic patients, a minor skin problem can quickly develop into a health or life-threatening medical condition
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