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Why You Should Never Ignore Leg Pain and Swelling

Pain or discomfort in the leg can have different causes. Anyone who has constant leg pain or visible varicose veins should seek medical advice. 

Leg pain treatment differs tremendously depending on your individual issues. Because every patient is unique, Dr. Eric Mai and our expert team at STL Vein and Cosmetics create a unique and customized treatment plan specific to your needs. If you are experiencing leg pain, we encourage you to come see us at one of our St. Louis, Missouri, offices. 

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about possible causes of leg pain and why you should never ignore it.

What are some causes of leg pain and swelling?

If in doubt, always consult a doctor to track down and treat the exact cause. However, the most common causes of leg pain are:

Sore muscles

You may experience leg pain after excessive exercise that usually goes away after a short period of rest.

Bone fracture

This type of leg pain occurs when moving the leg after an accident or injury and may include visible swelling and restricted movement.

Injuries to ligaments and tendons

Injury to tendons or ligaments causes stabbing pain, restricted mobility, and possibly swelling.

Nerve irritation

A slipped disc and nerve irritation in the spine cause burning or stabbing pain that radiates into the thighs and sometimes into the foot. You may also feel numbness or tingling.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are usually found in the legs, but contrary to popular belief, they can be found anywhere on your body. They typically show up in the form of harmless, bluish curls under the skin. Women are twice as likely to suffer from varicose veins than men. 

Only in advanced stages do varicose veins cause symptoms such as water retention in the tissue (edema) and skin ulcers. Without treatment, varicose veins may grow and cause tension or the feeling of heaviness in the legs, especially in the lower leg area. The symptoms usually subside when lying down or when moving. Varicose veins require special treatment.

Why are varicose veins especially troubling?

Varicose vein disease is an inherited circulatory disorder. It’s a condition made worse by prolonged standing or sitting. In fact, it’s estimated that vein disease affects 30-50% of the American population. Unfortunately, vein disease remains a poorly understood medical condition that isn’t only cosmetic despite these significant numbers.

Specifically, varicose veins are an indication of how well your body is pumping blood back towards your heart. Over time, venous blood begins to pool and ultimately causes pressure and congestion to develop in those affected veins. That congestion and pressure slowly dilates those veins, which impedes blood flow and circulation, resulting in congested pathways to your heart.

If you notice these small blue veins making an appearance, schedule an appointment with Dr. Mai as soon as possible. Our providers have advanced beyond the age of the scalpel and use only modern state-of-the-art varicose vein disease treatments.

Stages of varicose vein disease

Varicose vein disease is progressive. There are three stages.

Stage 1: Spider veins

Spider veins are small visible veins in the upper layer of the skin. Often they are only perceived as a cosmetic problem and dismissed as a blemish. However, if accompanied by tired, heavy legs, this is the first sign of a serious problem.

Stage 2: Varicose veins

Varicose veins are hardened veins with curls and knots. That means your venous valves no longer close tightly, and the blood keeps sinking back into the legs. Then it triggers inflammation due to the pressure on the vein walls, making the vein walls permeable, and a vicious cycle begins.

Stage 3: Leg swelling (edema)

If the blood builds up in the veins, it pushes back into the smallest vessels where the oxygen and nutrient exchange occurs. The tissue to be supplied suffers and sends out alarm signals in the form of messenger substances. Immune cells take action to help repair the damage, which causes inflammation.

When in doubt, make the call

Dr. Mai and the professionals at STL Vein and Cosmetics can clarify the cause of your leg pain. To consult an expert, contact us at either our Creve Coeur or South County location. We look forward to meeting with you and creating an individualized treatment plan to relieve your leg pain.

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