Conditions & Treatments
Veins and arteries, while both part of the circulatory system, function quite differently from each other. "Poor circulation" is a nonspecific term which often refers to arterial blockages. Arteries bring oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the extremities and can be thought of like a tube or hose. Veins, unlike arteries, have one-way valves and channel oxygen-depleted blood back toward the heart. If the valves of the veins don't function well, blood doesn't flow efficiently. The veins become enlarged because they are congested with blood. These enlarged veins are commonly called spider veins or varicose veins. Spider veins are small red, blue or purple veins on the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are larger distended veins that are located somewhat deeper than spider veins.
Pain in the legs is frequently related to abnormal leg veins. Symptoms, often made worse by prolonged standing, include feelings of fatigue, heaviness, aching, burning, throbbing, itching, cramping, and restlessness of the legs. Leg swelling can occur. Severe varicose veins can compromise the nutrition of the skin and lead to eczema, inflammation or even ulceration of the lower leg.
Vein disorders are not always visible; diagnostic techniques are important tools in determining the cause and severity of the problem. In addition to a physical examination, non-invasive ultrasound is often used.