Varicose Veins

Veins carry oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart. 

Normal, good veins do not present any obstructions to the blood flow. But in some cases, these veins could become enlarged or twisted that make the blood flow through them much less smooth.

Called varicose veins (also spider veins in common lingo), these veins are a fairly common occurrence, and are present in various degrees in about 15% of the adult population worldwide.

In a benign scenario, varicose veins can just be a cosmetic eyesore. In scenarios less benign, these can hurt a lot – through pains, cramps, restlessness and feeling of heaviness in the legs. 

Our arms and legs have two types of veins – deep veins and superficial veins. As their names suggest, deep veins are present deep in the muscles while superficial veins are present near the skin.

Varicose veins happen in the superficial veins, and usually in the legs. 112 When the one-way valves in the leg veins that are supposed to allow the blood to flow only up to the heart get damaged or weakened, blood can flow back/down and collect in the veins, many times enlarging them. As this condition worsens, problems such as leg swelling, pain, and skin changes become more prevalent.

Amma had varicose veins. They were quite painful to her in the beginning.

Fig 35: Varicose veins: With varicose veins, the valves do not work well enough with the result that blood could flow back (down) and accumulate, leading to swelling and resultant symptoms.

LEG PAIN <= Varicose veins => Pulling up my socks

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Notes

112. They can appear in other parts like arms too, and not just on the outside – esophageal varices are varicose veins in our esophagus.

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