Varicose Veins – Incidence, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Varicose veins are very common. There is usually a strong family predisposition.  Women are more likely to suffer from this disease than men. Pregnancy and overweight are also risk factors for varicose veins.

Varicose veins can be found mostly in the legs and thighs but also in the groins, private parts (vulva, scrotum) and also inside of the pelvis.  Varicosities in the pelvis can not be felt or seen but still cause problems like pelvic pain or ache, vaginal discharge, painful intercourse or frequent urination. Women mostly notice more symptoms after two or more pregnancies. This condition is called “Pelvic congestion syndrome”.

Leg veins  can be as large as ½ inch in size and can easily be felt when the person is standing. The blue veins under the skin are the reticular veins. These are generally less than 4 millimeters in size.  Spider veins or telangestasias are bright red or purple skin veins. These are less than 1mm in size.

Varicose Veins

Symptoms associated with leg veins

Most of the people suffering from the disease do not always have any symptom or sometimes the symptoms are so little that they prefer not to seek any treatment. However, there are people who want to get rid of the disease as they are unhappy with the look of their legs. There are a few common symptoms seen in 50% of adults that includes:

  • Swelling of leg
  • Dull pain or aching
  • The feeling of leg pressure or heaviness
  • Night-time cramping
  • Restless legs at night
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Burning or itching
  • Pelvic congestion syndrome


The diagnosis of the disease begins with physical examination and obtaining history. An ultrasound machine should be used to examine the flow of blood in the superficial and deep  veins. Some laboratories perform plethysmography for the evaluation of pump dysfunction in the calf muscle or obstruction and also CT (cat scan), MRI or venogram can be ordered in some situations to shed more light on the underlying pathology specially in situations where varicosities are recurrent, large or very symptomatic.