Pain is always a cause for concern, but you typically know why it’s there and what to do about it. If you cut your finger or stub your toe, pain tells you to get your limb out of danger, protect it, and do what’s necessary to support healing.
But what do you do when your veins cause you pain? If you live in or around Alexandria, Louisiana, you come to see me, Dr. Gary Jones, at Louisiana Cardiovascular and Thoracic Institute. I’m a board-certified specialist and have a lot of experience diagnosing and treating both common and complicated vein problems.
Here are the three painful vein conditions we see a lot:
1. Varicose veins
While I don’t recommend self-diagnosing vein problems, the classic signs of varicose veins are unmistakable, and about 25% of all adults have them. They appear as twisted, ropey bulges on your legs, but they also come with a few other telltale symptoms:
Varicose veins occur when the one-way valves inside the veins fail and allow blood to pool in the area. The pressure from the stagnant blood pushes on the vein walls and causes them to bulge and become visible through your skin.
To get rid of unsightly and painful varicose veins, I perform endovenous laser treatment (EVLT), a minimally invasive technique that destroys the affected veins and makes them disappear.
I make a tiny incision and insert a slender catheter through the length of the problem vein. A small instrument at the tip emits radiofrequency energy as I withdraw the catheter, and the vein collapses behind it.
Over the next few days and weeks, the dead vein gets flushed away as waste, and your blood is redirected to healthier veins nearby.
2. Peripheral artery disease
If your arteries have narrowed over the years due to a buildup of fatty deposits — a condition called atherosclerosis — you may develop peripheral arterial disease (PAD). PAD drastically reduces the blood flow, and your legs experience the greatest impact, although you may feel it in your arms, abdomen, or head, too. Without a proper blood supply, your legs suffer several changes, including:
- Smooth, shiny skin
- Constant coldness
- Hair loss
- Open sores
- Pain and cramping
The tricky thing is that sometimes PAD is asymptomatic. I run several diagnostic tests to determine your artery health, identify any areas of slow flow, and help us develop the best treatment plan.
If your PAD is mild, you may be able to turn the tide with some lifestyle changes and medication. If it’s bad, we may have to perform minimally invasive surgical procedures, such as a stent, atherectomy, or angioplasty to restore proper blood flow.
3. Deep vein thrombosis
Chronic venous insufficiency, the culprit behind most vascular problems, describes the general condition of poor blood flow. When blood slows down, whether it’s due to atherosclerosis, faulty valves, obesity, or anything else, it creates a perfect environment for the formation of blood clots.
When a clot forms deep inside your body, the condition is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and it typically occurs in your pelvis, thigh, or lower leg. While the main symptoms of DVT are pain and swelling, like PAD, DVT often flies under the radar with no symptoms at all.
This makes it even more dangerous since DVT can break off and travel toward your lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism, and it’s life-threatening, so if you have sudden shortness of breath, rapid pulse, chest pain, or a cough with blood, call 911 immediately.
We may be able to prevent the clot from growing and/or breaking off and traveling to your lungs by treating your DVT with medication, compression stockings, and lifestyle changes.
Don’t ignore painful vein problems
Veins are nothing to mess with. You need them working in top shape to stay healthy. If you have any of the symptoms we’ve described or have any questions regarding your vascular health, we encourage you to schedule a consultation so I can examine your veins and arteries and nip any problems in the bud before they become life-threatening. Don’t put it off — call us today or request an appointment online.