Do your legs frequently feel achy, heavy, restless, or painful? If so, you may have varicose veins. Unfortunately, this common condition often goes undetected and untreated because people don't know how to recognize it. As a result, millions walk around with chronic varicose vein pain and never understand the underlying cause of their discomfort.

What Are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins occur when the veins (most frequently in the legs and feet) become enlarged and overfilled with blood. The condition affects approximately 25 percent of all adults and is especially common among women. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Achiness
  • Pain
  • Heaviness
  • Swelling

Symptoms generally occur around the affected veins. In severe cases, ulcers can form or the veins can swell, become discolored, or bleed excessively. Contrary to popular belief, varicose veins don't always bulge out, so it's important to be able to recognize them by the other symptoms they cause. While many people mistakenly think varicose veins are only a cosmetic issue, they are actually very serious and can get progressively worse if treatment is not received.

What Causes the Condition?

Blood is only allowed to travel one direction in your veins thanks to valves that prevent backward flow. However, the valves in your veins can weaken and become less effective, allowing blood to pool in the legs. As a result of weakened valves, blood begins to leak or flow the wrong way and accumulate in the veins, causing them to become swollen, enlarged, and painful. Here are the potential risk factors for varicose veins:

  • Standing for prolonged periods of time
  • Menopause
  • Obesity
  • Family history of varicose veins
  • Being over the age of 50

While some of these risk factors can't be avoided (like family history), others can (like obesity). If you are concerned about varicose veins or have already started to experience minor symptoms, it is wise to make lifestyle changes and eliminate the risk factors you can control.

What Are Your Varicose Vein Pain Treatment Options?

There are a few ways that people try to minimize painful symptoms:

  • Compression stockings
  • Losing weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time
  • Elevating the legs

However, the above are just temporary measures to reduce symptoms. If these remedies don't work or if your condition worsens, you should see a vein doctor right away to learn about minimally invasive options to cure these symptoms. Keep in mind that most insurance companies cover varicose vein treatments because the condition is serious and can cause significant pain. Seek treatment and say goodbye to your varicose vein pain.