The unsightly and embarrassing appearance of varicose veins and spider veins can have an adverse impact on a person’s self-confidence and emotional well-being, but vein issues can cause physical discomforts as well. Vein disorders can be painful and, if left untreated, can lead to problems such as skin discoloration, feelings of heaviness, swelling, cramps, burning sensations and ulcers. In some cases, varicose veins may also be a symptom of deep vein thrombosis. This is a serious condition involving a leg blood clot that can be potentially life-threatening if it moves toward the heart or lungs.
Many vein disorders are caused by a problem called venous insufficiency. Normally functioning veins have the important task of carrying blood back to the heart, which then pumps blood to the lungs and throughout the body to replenish cells with oxygen essential to survival and healthy functioning. Venous insufficiency is a condition in which valves in the veins, which prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction, do not work properly. This causes blood to pool in the veins, producing visible veins beneath the skin surface as well as swelling and discomfort.