Varicose veins

Alternative Names

Varicosity; Varicosis

Definition of Varicose veins

Varicose veins are swollen, twisted, and sometimes painful veins that have filled with an abnormal collection of blood.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

In normal veins, valves in the vein keep blood moving forward toward the heart. With varicose veins, the valves do not function properly, allowing blood to remain in the vein. Pooling of blood in a vein causes it to enlarge.

Signs and tests

The diagnosis is mainly based on the appearance of the leg veins when you are standing or seated with the legs dangling.

Treatment

Treatment is usually conservative. You will be asked to avoid excessive standing, raise your legs when resting or sleeping, and wear elastic support hose.

Expectations (prognosis)

Varicose veins tend to get worse over time. You can ease discomfort and slow varicose vein progression with self care.

Review

Benjamin W. Van Voorhees, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics and Psychiatry, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 5/15/2010

Varicose veins
Circulatory system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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