How to Know When to Get Your Veins Treated

A woman wearing a blue dress with a high heel shoe off and rubbing one of her legs.

Are your legs consistently tired, swollen, sore, or heavy-feeling? Are they itchy or discolored? Do you frequently have rashes on or near your ankles? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to see a vein specialist.

It’s important to know when to get your veins treated rather than writing problems off as inconveniences or thinking problems with the circulation in your legs is just something you have to “live with”.

What’s the Difference between Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?

Even though spider veins and varicose veins are both vein disorders, there are  significant differences between the two.

graphic showing difference between spider veins and varicose veins

Spider veins are wispy and web-like, and are on the surface of the skin. They’re usually small — less than a millimeter in diameter. They’re either purplish or red in color, and frequently show up in clusters.

They usually don’t pose any medical threat, and are mainly treated for cosmetic reasons. Spider veins are usually hereditary, but other factors like obesity, hormonal problems and prolonged sitting or standing can also contribute to the problem.

Varicose veins are larger, usually bluish in color, and often show up as bulges under the skin. Unlike spider veins, varicose veins often cause symptoms such as heaviness, an achy feeling, and pressure.

They can also cause itching and sometimes, jittery or restless feeling legs. They’re usually caused by valves in the veins that aren’t functioning correctly, allowing blood to flow backward into the leg rather than in one direction — up toward the heart. This backflow of blood into the legs causes pressure which dilates and elongates the vein, causing it to protrude. Most people with varicose veins seek treatment mainly for the discomfort they cause.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis is a serious vein disorder in which veins deep in the body develop clots. In most cases, the clots are in the legs since they contain both superficial and deep veins. These clots in veins deep within the legs can cause circulatory problems, which, left untreated, can cause lethal conditions to arise. That makes early diagnosis and treatment not just important but essential. If you have any of the following symptoms, it’s crucial to see a vein specialist as soon as possible:

  • Swelling
  • Pain and/or tenderness
  • Redness, discoloration or warm-feeling legs
  • Visible veins
  • A fatigued feeling in the legs
  • Pulmonary (lung) issues such as shortness of breath, chest discomfort or dizziness
  • A low-grade fever
  • Patchy redness in the legs
  • A bloody mucus cough

Vein Treatment Isn’t Just for Your Mom

You may think of vein disorders as a problem that only afflicts “older” people like your mother or your grandmother. While it’s true that the risk of vein disorders increases with age as veins lose their elasticity, younger people are not risk-free. Pregnant women can develop spider and varicose veins, as can premenstrual, and menopausal women since female hormones have a tendency to relax vein walls.

For the same reason, women taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are also at risk. Men can have vein conditions, too, although the incidence is higher in women.

Don’t Wait to Seek Treatment!

If you live in the Kansas City area and suspect (or know) that you have a vein disorder, you should know that you have access to an IAC accredited clinic. The Vein Clinic of Greater Kansas City has one of the most qualified vein specialists in the area, and our team is dedicated to the evaluation and treatment of all venous disorders! Call us at (913) 541-3377 for an appointment.