What are the symptoms?
Many people have no symptoms at all from their varicose veins, except for the fact that they are noticeable, and their appearance can be embarrassing. The most common symptoms are heaviness and aching in the leg or “heat” or itching in the veins themselves. Some people have ankle swelling towards the end of the day which disappears in bed overnight (oedema).
Occasionally, in people with high pressure varicosities, a brown skin discolouration appearsaround the ankle. This can lead to a varicose eczema and ultimately a varicose ulcer. Other problems which varicose veins can occasionally produce:
This is when the veins clot off spontaneously and form tender inflamed cords under the skin where the vein has been previously. It is not the same as a deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and tends to settle with painkillers and time. Often obliterating the original vein in the process.
This is unusual and will stop if the leg is elevated above the heart and the bleeding point pressed on. If this problem occurs it is probably best to get your veins treated.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Some people develop varicose veins after they have had a DVT. The evidence that varicose veins cause DVT is not strong.
What tests are there to investigate varicose veins?
Most varicose veins originate from leaking valves at groin level or behind the knee. It is important to accurately locate the site of the valve leaks so that we can provide the correct treatment for you.
At your first clinic appointment the doctor will ask some questions, have a look at your leg and listen to the blood flowing using a small probe called a hand held Doppler (usually listening in the groin and behind the knee. This tells us whether the valves in the veins are working properly or not. A duplex ultrasound scan may be performed instead.
This will allow detailed examination of your deep veins particularly if there is a past history of deep vein thrombosis. Varicose veins behind the knee and recurrent varicose veins will also require duplex scanning.