Varicose veins are tortuous, widened veins in the subcutaneous tissues of the legs and are often easily visible. Their valves are usually incompetent so that reflux of blood occurs, and the resulting venous hypertension can cause symptoms. Varicose veins are widely seen as medically unimportant and deserving low priority for treatment; however, they can be painful.
Who Gets Varicose Veins?
A large study has shown age prevalence of 40% in men and 32% in women. The age of onset varies; some people develop varicose veins in their teens, but prevalence rises with age.
Varicose veins can cause a variety of symptoms of discomfort in the legs, but it is important to try to differentiate these from the many other reasons for leg pains. The Edinburgh vein study found that the symptoms associated with varicose vein were itching, heaviness, and aching.
Examination should be done with the patient standing in good light, when the extent and size of varicose veins and the presence of other venous blemishes will be clear. Sites of venous incompetence are best diagnosed by duplex ultrasound scanning.
BMJ. 2009 Aug 5; 333(7562): 287-292 | doi: 10.1136/bmj.333.7562.287