Varicose veins may have no specific symptoms. They are frequently more of a visual concern that make people feel self conscious, and adversely affects Quality of Life. They are known to cause variously described feelings of ‘fatigue’, ‘heaviness’, ‘aching (particularly at night) ‘burning’, ‘throbbing’, ‘itching’ and cramps in the legs. Swelling of the ankle is a common problem and can be used as a measure of successful treatment.
As Varicose veins become more severe, they can develop complications and it becomes more important to treat the veins to prevent ongoing and recurrent symptoms. Occasionally the veins can become big and the skin can become thin over them, the slightest knock can cause significant blood loss. It is best to get veins treated before this becomes a problem, but if this happens the veins need to be treated as soon as possible to prevent repeated episodes of haemorrhage.
Varicose veins can become big enough for the blood to pool and clot or stagnate. This causes painful inflammation along the vein. It becomes hard, hot, red and painful. This is called Thrombophlebitis. This is usually a self-limiting event and will get better within a couple of weeks, with treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs (like Ibuprofen or Volatrin), and sometimes with antibiotics. Thrombophlebitis often reoccurs. Thrombophlebitis can occasionally climb up the leg to the groin and cause clot to form in the deep veins, Deep Vein Thrombosis. It is important to have varicose veins that have become inflamed treated to prevent this complication, as well as to prevent the symptoms from coming back.
At their most severe, varicose veins can be a source of chronic leg ulceration. Treating varicose veins that have contributed to the development of ulcers is known to help reduce the chances of the ulcers returning in the future.