Sunday, January 15, 2006

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are dilated tortuous veins, usually in the lower extremities. The valves of these veins are incompetent, allowing the blood to seep backward. The seepage causes congestion and further distention of the veins. Although the saphenous veins (veins running down leg) are most commonly affected, the rectum and esophagus may also be affected. Hemorrhoids are varicose veins around the rectum and anus.
Factors that contribute to varicose veins include obesity, thrombophlebitis, familial tendency, pelvic tumors, pregnancy, and prolonged standing. Men, as well as women, suffer from varicose veins. Symptoms of varicose veins include fatigue in the legs, leg cramps, leg pain, and swelling of the ankles. If varicose veins are left untreated the vein becomes thick, hard, and painful.
Treatment of mild varicose veins may include rest periods with the legs elevated, bathing in warm water, exercise, and changes in routine so that there are no extended periods of time when the person is sitting or standing without movement. Sometimes support or elastic stockings are recommended.
Varicose veins are usually treated surgically if leg fatigue, cramps, and edema are pronounced. One method that is used frequently is ligation and stripping. The affected veins are severed from their connections and removed. The patient may be instructed to continue wearing elastic bandages or stockings following the surgery. General instructions include elevating the leg while sitting, avoiding long periods of time standing, and weight reduction for the obese.
The major complication caused by varicose veins is reduced circulation to the leg, which can lead to sores that will not heal, infection, and possibly gangrene.

Narrow, B. W., and Buschle, K. B. Fundamentals of Nursing Practice, 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1987.
Scherer, J. C. Introductory Medical-Surgical Nursing, 3rd ed. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1982.

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Some patients that suffer from varicose veins and other venous disorders are fully aware of the full benefits of wearing medical compression stockings


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