Hello, my name is Karen Jacobsen and as a registered nurse I’ve seen more than my fair share of patients with varicose veins.
For example, there’s Mary Cunningham who by the time she came to the doctor’s office basically couldn’t take it any more … the pain was just too much.
For several years, Mary had noticed her ankles were often itchy and swollen, and if she stood too long in one place, her legs would throb and burn and her feet and ankles would swell.
Sometimes the pain really bothered her, but she had learned to live with the discomfort, and she still managed to do everything she wanted to do. But in the last month or so before she came to the doctor, the swelling in her ankles and the pain in her legs had gotten much worse. But what really scared her was the big, bulging vein in her ankle that hadn’t been there before. So she decided to finally schedule a doctor’s appointment
That appointment ended up being much different from the run of the mill exams she was used to having.
She told the doctor her problems, and he looked at her leg and felt the skin on her calf and ankle: all of this took less than a minute. The doctor stood up and Mary prepared herself for some typical doctor-speak (“we can’t be sure at this point, we need to run some tests, etc,”) but instead he said there was no doubt – Mary had varicose veins.
Varicose veins are veins that have (for various reasons) stopped working and are disrupting the circulation.
What they are and how they happen is complicated, (and no one is 100% sure what causes them), but basically they are veins that have (for various reasons) stopped working and the result is that blood pools in the veins of the lower legs and the feet. The veins become swollen with blood, this puts pressure on the lower legs and feet, and this pressure causes the symptoms that send people like Mary to their doctor.
Varicose veins are a common problem.
The estimates vary, but it can safely be said that at least 20% of the population has varicose veins, and the majority of them are women. The number of people who have them definitely increases with age; approximately 70% of all women 70 years or older are likely to have varicose veins.
Some of these people won’t even know they have them. Some people will know they have them, but they have a mild case that doesn’t cause serious problems or require treatment. But for some people they do cause some severe complications, and the pain and suffering, and the amount of time and money that is spent treating really bad cases of varicose veins is considerable.
And varicose veins don’t have to be severe to cause problems. Even mild cases of varicose veins can cause chronic discomfort and limit someone’s activity; it’s hard to enjoy life when you are in chronic pain and when walking, at times, just isn’t worth the trouble. How can the cost of that be measured? For a lot of people, varicose veins are definitely no joke.
Varicose veins can be a serious problem. But if you’re willing to make some lifestyle changes … if you have a little basic knowledge about the disease … and if you receive some professional guidance … the disease doesn’t have to control you – you can control the disease.