Sunday, February 17, 2013

Varicose veins – is there a cure?

What are varicose Veins?

Normally, varicose veins are an outcome of wear and tear of the body. Just as different organs/parts of the body experience some loss of efficiency with passing years/decades, a similar outcome in the veins of the lower limb leads to this condition of varicose veins.

How does one identify the problem of varicose veins?
The affected veins get enlarged, are seen as soft swellings just beneath the skin – these are called as varicosities.In efficiency of these veins leads to slowing down of the venous circulation, resulting in pooling up of blood in the lower limbs. This is what causes the complaints of ache, heaviness, and feeling of exhaustion – that is aggravated with physical activity.

Which part of the body is usually affected by varicose veins?
The lower limbs are the part of the body where anti – gravity movement for the circulating blood to reach the hearth is the maximum. This is why effects of weakness of the veins are seen first in the body in this region.

Though this is problem due to wear and tear of the body, what else can aggravate the problem?
There may be other reasons besides age that can aggravate this problem. Any problem causing pressure on the lower limb veins in the groin or abdomen can cause this problem much earlier, besides a few birth defect problems. This is the reason why varicose veins may be seen in the groin or lower limbs in the last few months of pregnancy.

The pattern of the varicose veins can usually alert the doctor to the possibility of any additional underlying problem, besides inherent weakness of the veins

How can this problem be prevented? 
There are no blood tests or any other tests that can detect these problems before they develop. Once they develop, the soft bluish swellings are the earliest indicators – other than the symptoms that may suggest the problems. A Doppler Scan can identify the altered pattern of problems in the venous blood flow.

How can this problem of varicose veins be tackled?
If there is some obvious problem causing external pressure on the veins, that needs to be tackled. If not, the problem is due to internal weakness of the veins – called Primary Varicose Veins, which is the most common situation.Such problems can only be controlled, as the weakness that has set in cannot be reversed. However, the changes (problems) due to the weak veins can be controlled by some simple means, such as:
  • 1.       Use of well fitting external support stockings.
  • 2        Avoid prolonged periods of standing, which will increase the venous poling in the lower limb.
3.       If the weakness in the veins is causing major leakage of blood at any point, the particular area needs treatment by intervention – to offset the local effects of stagnated blood and poor circulation.

How to cure this problem?
Strictly speaking, cure for this problem does not exist in modern science. All existing treatment options are directed towards controlling the problem or the damage that results due to it.
This makes the preventive measures (to prevent further damage) even more relevant – most important of this is use of correctly fitting stockings. Interventional therapy is sometimes useful to correct some specific local weakness of severe variety. This involves blocking of inefficient venous pathways, and leavingonly the unaffected OR more efficient ones to carry the venous blood to the heart without causing symptoms.
This intervention can be open surgery, sclerotherapy OR laser surgery.
Neither of these can in any way change the chances of the remaining veins from developing the same problem later on.

This is exactly why early detection, prompt evaluation and strict use of compression therapy (before any further problems develop) are the cornerstones of therapy of Varicose veins.

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