Varicose veins

Varicose veins

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​Varicose veins refer to venous insufficiency in the lower limbs causing swelling and superficially varicosed veins.  Symptoms caused by venous insufficiency can be relieved by self-care.

Venous insufficiency in lower limbs is caused by structural changes in the vein walls and the weakening of the valves in veins. As a result, the pressure in lower limb veins increases when you are standing and fluid seeps outside the blood vessels causing swelling. The pressure in the veins increases and the surface veins swell up, resulting in varicose veins.

Symptoms

​Insufficiency-induced symptoms usually get more severe towards the end of the day and after standing for a long time. Typical symptoms include leg swelling, pain and tightness of the skin, varicosed bulging veins in shins and thighs, leg cramps, leg pain and restless leg syndrome. Long-term insufficiency may cause itching and gradual darkening of the skin. Improper functioning of blood circulation may result in leg ulcers. Factors increasing the risk of varicose veins include age, genetic factors, female gender and childbirth, and obesity.

Self-care

​The first line of treatment is to wear sturdy, custom made compression stockings, which prevent the surface veins from enlarging. In the case of mild insufficiency, swelling can be prevented with light exercise, such as walking. Avoid standing for long periods of time, and when seated raise your legs up. Losing weight often helps the symptoms if you are overweight. Rash and eczema associated with insufficiency may be treated by cortisone cream or ointment.​

When should you seek medical advice?

​You should seek medical advice, if

  • the skin covering a superficial varicose vein ruptures and bleeds
  • swelling and pain in the leg increases considerably
  • compression stockings do not help to control the symptoms which are getting worse
  • insufficiency causes skin changes or an ulcer.

More information

The producers of the instruction

​​​​​Emergency care professionals have produced the instruction in collaboration with Terveyskirjasto.​

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Updated  22.4.2021