Nanticoke Vein Center: Here To Help Relieve Leg Pain

By: Dr. Arvind Gireesh and Dr. Alfred Hurley, Cardiologists with the Nanticoke Vein Center

Unfortunately vein disease is one of the most under-treated and under-recognized problems encountered in medicine. More and more we see how important the impact this disease can have on our patient’s quality of life.

Varicose veins are veins that are dark purple or blue in color, can often feel like cords that are twisting and bulging in the legs; whereas spider veins are often purple, red, or blue and have the appearance of a spider web or tree branch. Most patients complain of significant swelling in the legs, that their legs are tired, fatigued, and even restless. The veins can also become very hard; they can itch, throb, and burn. Most of the time, leg pain from varicose veins is seen as an inconvenience. But sometimes, it can cause enough pain to interfere with walking or standing for periods of time.

The goal of the Nanticoke Vein Center is to increase awareness both among patients and among healthcare providers in the community. There are millions of people in the United States suffering from venous disease. We want people to know that there are ways we can help…ways to improve the day to day quality of life as well as reduce the visible signs of varicose veins.

Working together with our primary care providers in the community the team at the Nanticoke Vein Center is working to streamline care all the way from early recognition to finding the appropriate treatment for our patients.

What are vericose veins?
As a part of the normal circulation of blood, veins bring blood from the body back to heart. Normal veins are small and have valves that act like doors. These valves prevent blood from flowing backwards, keeping the blood moving in the right direction. When these valves do not work properly blood pools in the veins and the veins become enlarged. If left untreated, they can become larger. Varicose veins are the enlarged and twisted veins in the legs. Varicose veins may get worse as you stand and can be very painful.

What causes vericose veins?
There are many causes for varicose veins. Typically, they are more common in women than in men but that is not to say that men do not suffer from varicose disease. Genetics play a big role and often patients will tell me that varicose veins run in the family. Other causes of varicose veins are pregnancy, menopause and aging. If patients have had trauma to the leg or surgeries in the legs this can cause varicose veins as well. Some people who stand for long periods of time because of their job will develop varicose veins. Having a history of clots in the legs can also cause varicose veins. Being overweight is also a common cause of varicose veins.

What are some of the signs and symptoms of varicose veins?
Patients with varicose veins can have a number of different complaints that can be treated. It’s important for you to talk to your doctor about any discomfort that you may have in your legs, even if you do not think that your symptoms are coming from your veins. The majority of symptoms will occur at night. You may experience heavy or aching legs, ankle or leg swelling, cramping or restless leg syndrome. You may notice your skin color around the lower portion of your legs, particularly around the ankles, has turned brown or scaly.

What can vericose veins lead to?
For the most part varicose veins are fairly benign. I often tell patients varicose veins are often a nuisance more than anything else. If left untreated they can lead to what is called venous insufficiency. The varicose veins are located on the outside portion of the legs or are in the “superficial” system. Eventually all the pressure in these veins empty into what is called the “deep venous system”. When this happens you develop what is known as venous insufficiency. The most common consequence of varicose veins and venous insufficiency is pain or cramping and achiness. There can be long term effects such as chronic skin irritation, skin ulcers and wounds that do not heal, superficial blood clots, or bleeding from minor trauma. In a small population of people skin ulcers from venous disease can lead to skin cancer.

Who is at risk for varicose veins and venous insufficiency?
Everyone is at risk for developing venous insufficiency. It’s a significant public health problem in the United States. Chronic venous insufficiency effects up to 5% of all Americans and depending on whom you ask up to 40% of Americans suffer from clinically relevant varicosities.

The ulcers I talked about, affect half a million people in the country.

Those in particular who are at risk are those who have a family history, are overweight, have had children, have had clots in their legs, whose jobs require them to stand for long periods of time or have had surgery or trauma to their legs.

What are the treatment options for venous insufficiency and varicose veins?
There are many different treatment options for patients with varicose veins. The important thing to keep in mind is that venous symptoms are not something that you have to live with. The majority of treatments are covered by insurance.

At the Nanticoke Vein Center, treatment options include sclerotherapy, ultrasound guided sclerotherapy, stab phlebotomy, endovenous thermal ablation as well as some of the more complex therapies like stenting of the deep vein system. These non-invasive techniques can improve both appearance and reduce pain. Treatment options are different for different patients based on symptoms and how aggressive you want to be in your therapy. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms.