Medically Reviewed by Eva M. Rzucidlo, MD
In your body, the heart pumps blood through your arteries, taking oxygen out to your fingers, legs and feet.
On the other hand, veins bring the blood back from those locations to your heart and lungs, to get more oxygen.
“The veins are an interesting organ,” says McLeod Vascular Surgeon Eva Rzucidlo, MD. “Your arteries have a pulse you can feel in your wrist and your neck. But your veins have no pulse. Instead, the veins have one-way valves that allows the system to be efficient but these one-way valves can also malfunction. We stand much of the time and in order to bring the blood back from the legs and arms to the heart, it must act against gravity with the one-way valve’s job pushing the blood back up to the heart.”
When these valves fail to push the blood back to the heart, problems result with blood pressure building up in the legs or pooling there. Artery problems are more severe and can cause limb loss. Vein problems are chronic disease. Nearly 40 percent of Americans have some sort of vein disease, ranging from minor spider veins, to leg swelling, to bulging veins called varicose veins, to more progressive problems where you can get ulcers in your legs due to vein problems.
The first thing a person might notice are some prominent veins in the legs. Spider veins — tiny blue discolored veins underneath the skin can appear. These problems can progress to much larger bulging veins called varicose veins. This problem is more common in women than men. There is an increased likelihood of vein problems when a woman is pregnant or following pregnancy. Standing for long periods of time is also a risk factor.
The symptoms that people really talk about are swelling in the legs that worsens over the day, feeling like a toothache. The veins are congested. So, you have a little bit more blood in your leg than normal and pain – like a toothache — in your leg results.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
Vein problems cannot always be completely “cured.” So, it becomes an ongoing problem.
Physician and self-referrals are welcome for appointments with a vascular surgeon, who can examine your problem and discuss nonsurgical and surgical options to help with your painful symptoms.