Leg cramping, aching, swelling, visible veins, skin irritation, sores and ulcers can be due to varicose veins.


 What are varicose veins?

In normal circumstances, blood travels from the heart to the legs through ‘arteries’ and return back to the heart through ‘veins’.

 Veins have valves that allow ‘one-way’ return of blood from the legs to the heart without backing off. If the valves leak, blood pools in leg and the veins in the legs to bulge and enlarge.


 How can I prevent varicose veins?

According to “Office on Women’s Health” -Not all varicose and spider veins can be prevented. But, there are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of getting new varicose and spider veins. These same things can help ease discomfort from the ones you already have:

Eat a low-salt diet rich in high-fiber foods. Eating fiber reduces the chances of constipation, which can contribute to varicose veins. High-fiber foods include fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, like bran. Eating less salt can help with the swelling that comes with varicose veins.


 What is the best and less invasive way of treatment?

Varicose vein treatment is a less invasive treatment that uses “Laser” energy to close the abnormally enlarged veins in the legs usually called as “varicose veins”.

 Laser treatment is done using ultrasound guidance to generate heat by laser energy to close these defective veins. Now the blood flow can be diverted to the healthy veins, which can carry the blood back to the heart.

 Laser treatment successfully closes the abnormal veins in more than 90% of the situations. Additional treatments are often required after the Laser treatment for small abnormal dilated veins. This is usually done by injection of scleroscent liquid.

 Please see http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/varicose-spider-veins.html for more information




 Peripheral arterial disease

Blockage in the leg arteries can cause pain, ulcers, and difficulty in walking. Usually poor circulation in the legs called ‘peripheral artery disease’ (PAD) causes leg pain when walking. Sometimes loss of blood supply due to blocked arteries can cause loss of leg and gangrene.

 Peripheral artery disease signifies that there is a widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in your arteries called atherosclerosis. This condition not only reduces blood supply to the legs this can be a indirect event that there is also reduced blood flow to your heart and brain.


 How to control peripheral arterial disease?

You can prevent developing peripheral artery disease by quitting tobacco, exercising and eating a healthy diet.

 According to National institute of Health

“Balance exercise with rest. Walk or do another activity to the point of pain and alternate it with rest periods. Over time, your circulation may improve as new, small (collateral) blood vessels form. Always talk to the doctor before starting an exercise program.

 For further reading http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000170.htm


 Treatment Surgical vs. non surgical:

After the above conservative therapy, either surgical or minimally invasive procedures can be performed to increase the blood supply to the legs to decrease the pain and to save the legs. Surgery usually has a long period of recovery compared to few hours of recovery in catheter based minimally invasive methods.


 Minimally invasive treatment:

Using a catheter based minimally invasive method, the artery can be entered with a tiny nick in the skin usually at the groin using local anesthesia. Then a thin catheter that looks like a piece of noodle is passed into the femoral artery. Next a contrast dye is injected to provide direct visualization of the artery. Blockage is usually fixed with a atherectomy (more or less like a small roto-rooter) to take away the blockage then balloon is used to expand the vessel and rarely a stent need to be used to keep the artery open.