What causes varicose veins in legs? Many of use look down to discover the bulging, sometimes red or blue colored veins on our legs and wonder what exactly caused them to develop. Varicose veins on the legs result from the pooling of blood in the veins, causing them to enlarge and eventually bulge out from the skin. They are unsightly and can potentially be painful. They can form for several reasons.
Damage to Blood Vessel Valves – Inside the veins are tiny valves that are intended to ensure that blood can only travel in one direction – back to the heart. Numerous factors can cause these valves to wear down or fail. Failed valves are one of the primary causes of varicose veins in legs because they allow blood to pool and become stagnant in the leg. Over time, this pressure makes them bulge outward.
Age – As we get older, our bodies will steadily wear down. Some of these effects can be quite profound, while others are more subtle. Aging causes varicose veins in legs because as we get older, the veins lose their elasticity and the valves that prevent blood from pooling in the legs begin to break down. This results in a pooling of blood in the veins of the legs, which stretch and bulge and become varicose veins.
Pregnancy – When a woman becomes pregnant, she becomes susceptible to the development of varicose veins due to due to two factors. The first is that the volume of blood in her body increases in order to fill the veins of the uterus so the fetus can get enough oxygen. This applies additional pressure on the walls of the veins.The second reason is that the pressure of the uterus exerts additional pressure on the blood vessels in the legs, reducing their ability to adequately pump blood back into the body. This, along with an increased in sedentary activity, helps to cause varicose veins in the legs.
Lack of Movement – As stated before, one of the benefits to frequent movement is that the movement of the legs also functions to help pump blood back into the body. This is important because the blood in your legs also has to fight against the effects of gravity in order to circulate properly. This effect is particularly pronounced if you sit with your legs bent or crossed.
Obesity – Obesity is a major contributor to the development of varicose veins because, as is the case with pregnancy, the additional weight exerts additional pressure on the veins of the legs. This contributes to bad circulation in the legs, and that poor circulation helps lead to varicose veins.
Genetics – Weak blood vessel valves are believed to be a hereditary trait that is passed along genetically. About half of the people who are diagnosed with varicose veins have at least one family member who also has them.
Varicose Veins In Legs - Photo Credit: Flickr / Thomas Kriese
It is important to note that varicose veins do not always appear at the surface of the skin where they are visible. They can also invisibly form deeper inside the leg. Veins such as these are a concern because they can potentially lead to a form of blood clot known as deep vein thrombosis. Varicose veins symptoms include: tired or achy legs, swelling in the legs, discoloration of the legs, and pain or tingling in the legs. If you develop any of these symptoms, visit your doctor to determine whether or not treatment is necessary or whether he has any health tips to improve leg circulation and help prevent further problems.