Varicose veins are a relatively common condition more likely to occur in older adults, those who are obese and those who are female, particularly those who have had children. The symptoms of varicose veins can vary, but numbness is not unusual. Here’s what you need to know about varicose veins, leg numbness and vein treatments, courtesy of Dr. Gamal Wazni of United Vein Centers in Tampa, Florida.
About Varicose Veins
Varicose veins occur because the tiny flaps of tissue inside the veins – known as valves – no longer work properly. In a healthy vein, the valves open with each heartbeat as blood is pushed against them. During the pause between heartbeats, the valves close, prevent blood from flowing backward. These veins can become incompetent, which means they don’t close all the way or don’t close at all. As a result, blood leaks around them and pools in the vein, causing it to become distorted and swollen.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Many people have no obvious symptoms of varicose veins other than the appearance of the veins themselves. However, large or extensive varicosities may result in swelling of the legs, leg pain or a feeling that the legs are tired or heavy. Your ankles may be swollen, especially at night or if you spend a long time on your feet during the day. Neurological symptoms of varicose veins can include tingling, burning, cramping or numbness in the legs and feet.
Varicose Veins and Numbness
Varicose veins can affect the circulation in your legs and feet. When the tissues or nerves aren’t getting adequate blood flow, it results in oxygen deprivation. This can cause tingling or outright numbness in one or more areas. For example, the posterior tibial nerve runs from the leg to the foot through a narrow band of tissue called the tarsal tunnel. Varicose veins can cause crowding in the tarsal tunnel and compression of the nerve. This results in tingling and numbness of the bottom and side of the foot.
Varicose Vein Treatments
At one time, varicose veins always required surgery. Today, doctors can offer a number of less invasive procedures that are faster, less expensive and easier on the patient. An endovenous laser treatment uses laser therapy to close the vein. In a mini-phlebectomy, the vein is removed through a tiny incision. For sclerotherapy, the doctor injects a solution into the veins that causes them to swell and then collapse, making them stick together. All of these are office procedures and typically take an hour or less. Recovery time is also short; patients can usually return to their normal activities within a day or two at most.
Varicose veins can be more than a cosmetic issue. They can cause pain and swelling or interfere with people’s daily activities. In addition to conservative therapies like special compression stockings, minimally invasive varicose vein treatments offer relief from symptoms such as leg numbness. If you have varicose veins and are interested in treatment, please contact our office to set up an appointment.