What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins occur when veins are abnormally dilated (usually in the lower limbs) and their leaflet valves are not working adequately so that blood is insufficiently pumped upward.
They are accompanied by painful, swollen legs. At first the enlarged veins are not clearly visible, but they do become clearly noticeable at a later stage.
A distinction is made between primary varicose veins (in the superficial connective tissue) and secondary varicose veins (in the deeper vein system).
What is venous insufficiency?
Venous insufficiency means that the blood flow in the superficial vein system is disturbed, so that the blood’s nutritional and discharge function is less than optimal.
This creates an accumulation of tissue fluid (oedema), which causes painful, heavy legs.
When the phenomenon is long-term, it is referred to as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). At this stage varicose veins may also appear.
What are the causes?
- Venous obstruction (thrombosis)
- Heredity factor
- Risk factors:
- Lack of exercise (standing or sitting a lot)
What can be done about it?
The risk factors can be limited or compensated with contrast bath therapy, massages and exercise. The patient can wear compression stockings: exerting external pressure on the leg narrows the veins again and the valves can work again. This will allow the blood circulation to do its job and the swelling to decrease.
Required compression class: 1, 2 or 3?
Compression stockings are made in several compression categories:
- Compression class 1: compression at the ankle is 18-22 mm Hg
- Compression class 2: compression at the ankle is 25-32 mm Hg
- Compression class 3: compression at the ankle is 36-48 mm Hg