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WHAT ARE VARICOSE VEINS? WHAT CAUSES THEM?

Varicose veins are twisted or discolored veins, sometimes pushing out against the skin. These veins are often visible in the legs when located near the surface of the skin. Although less common, varicose veins can occur in other areas of the body and they are not always visible. Pain or cramp-like symptoms can also be an indication of varicose veins.

To understand more, let’s start with the basics. The body’s pulmonary system uses the heart and a network of arteries, veins, and smaller vessels to carry blood to all parts of the body. Each beat of the heart pulses blood along a pressurized, super-highway on a continuous roundtrip journey. The blood carries oxygen and nutrients, essentially feeding the entire body.

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Arteries and veins are the largest blood vessels in the system. Arteries carry oxygen rich blood away from the heart, while veins move oxygen depleted blood toward the heart. While smaller vessels connect tissues with this pulmonary network, the veins and arteries do the heavy lifting.

Pulse and blood pressure are also part of this complicated system of blood flow. Other key components are the one-way valves along the interior walls of these vessels. These fleshy gateways keep the blood flowing in the right direction or more importantly, prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction.

Now imagine that as you are standing, oxygen depleted blood needs to get from your toes to your heart. That is literally an uphill task as the blood must flow through the veins, against gravity, up toward the heart. Those one-way valves work extra hard in that stretch of the journey. Sometimes these valves lose integrity and fail to prevent the backflow or pooling of blood in these areas. This can cause swelling and pain. Blood vessels with this type of failure are varicose veins.

Those with occupations requiring excessive standing can be at higher risk, such as nurses, teachers, hair stylists, first responders, and factory workers. Pregnant women are also highly susceptible. Other factors may include hormonal imbalances, genetics, obesity, age, and medical conditions.

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Advances in medical science have greatly improved the procedures for treating varicose veins. Be sure your doctor is well-trained in the most common successful treatments performed today. Some are even performed as outpatient procedures with immediate results. If you experience leg pain or suspect that you have varicose veins, please consult a medical professional today. There is no reason to continue living in pain with so many treatment options available.

The team at Desert Vein and Vascular Institute helps patients diagnose and treat related leg pain in La Quinta, Rancho Mirage, and the greater Palm Springs area. If you are experiencing any of the conditions above, please contact our office today for a free screening by calling 1-800-VARICOSE.

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