Join Date: Sep 2006
| | Varicose Veins - Age 25 - Need Advice
I apologize in advance for this long post. This is not as serious as many medical issues, yet it is causing me discomfort and mental anxiety. It has affected what activities I feel like I can do without causing the veins to get worse. If you don't want to read my lengthy explanation but still want to provide input just skip to my summary at the end of the post.
I noticed something wrong when I was 21 or 22. It was a single spot on my leg, less than a inch long and it looked like a bruise. I can't be sure if this was shortly before or after I started exercising regularly again. As I exercised and gradually got back into shape (starting off doing 10 push-ups at a time, going up to 30 or 40, 30 sit-ups to 50 or 60 and so on) the single spot I noticed spread. I realized that I had a varicose vein. I worried that my exercises were somehow causing the problem and on a visit to a doctor I showed my varicose vein and mentioned the possibility of exercise causing it to worsen. He said that no, this wasn't the case because it would lower my blood pressure. He suggested a few minor things, compression socks, flexing my toes and such.
I realized the varicose veins not going away and it was gradually getting worse, I decided to stop the exercising. While this might seem odd, it was the only change I had made before it showed up. I now feel that the exercise didn't cause the varicose vein but the strain from exercising might have placed additional pressure on the vein, accelerating the problem. Since then I have been wary of working out. I decided I should go to a specialist. He did a ultrasound, seemed nonchalant and informed me that the vein was too large and that was the cause. He said it was most likely genetic. This made me feel better, I decided it was just a one time thing. I had a vein that's too big. It wasn't bothering me that much so I though I'd just deal with it until I had to get it removed.
I'm average or better than average weight (5'9 165-170) and activity level (I do sit a lot but I'm a hyper so I'm still quite active). I'm male and I'm 25, hardly in a high risk category for this. I almost never go to the doctor, but I've never had any serious health problems and when I did get my blood pressure checked, while it might be a little high it was still fine. None of my immediate family had has a problem with this either (I now have the impression that actually would indicate it isn't genetic). The vein gradually got worse, but much much slower than it had initially. It had gone from a speck to tracing several inches from my calf to my knee in a couple months. Over the next three years I didn't notice it get much worse. It spread a little, I saw indications it might have spread past my knee and it was a darker blue in some areas. I could deal with this. Once I couldn't I would remove it and that would be that.
I bought one pair of compression socks, I elevated the leg (left leg) if it was bothering me (it has and does occasionally hurt, sometimes it is a sharp pain, sometimes itching or burning...). I ignored some other signs. I noticed around my ankles that the pores were more reddish (I assume this is a symptom of the circulation problem with the veins?). I noticed the "surfacing" vein above my knee, on my left leg (part of original varicose vein) I also noticed a similar vein on my right leg, going up my ankle a little. I dismissed that because I saw no sign of a dark blue spot and felt no discomfort.
A couple of months ago I took a chair out of my room because it was too big. When I needed to use the computer I just kneeled down. I use the computer a lot and since someone else was using the chair I kept kneeling when I used the computer. Over the course of that week and the next I spent several hours kneeling in front of the computer, putting off buying another chair. Then, one day I noticed the area around my right knee feeling uncomfortable. The discomfort was identical to what I felt in the area of my varicose vein. With a sense of dread I contemplated it. It felt the same, the itching and the burning. Yet, I didn't see any visible sign in the area of a varicose vein. I immediately bought a chair and I hoped it wasn't a problem with the vein.
A few weeks after that (after a binge of donuts, I have no idea if that has anything to do with it but I find it worth mentioning) I emerged from the shower and looked at my leg. I'm not sure about my right leg but I did notice my left leg. The vein I had seen tracing up above my knee was highly visible. At the point it ended, halfway up my thigh it was bulging a little. I felt something like a cramp in my upper thigh towards the back, where no vein was visible. I went straight to bed, skipping my usual use of the computer and lay there prone, afraid to get up until I fell asleep.
I was noticing discomfort all over my legs (even as I type this I feel discomfort behind my right knee, where no vein is visible). I decided to look into the issue more on the web. I saw one site talking about blood clots, so I took a aspirin a day and modified my diet (and lost 5 pounds so I'm 165 now, I was 170, perhaps a little more). I felt afraid to get out of bed. I propped my leg up in the shower, I wore my pair of compression socks whenever possible. I could see one vein on my left and emerging a one my right leg. My initial impression was shattered. A vein could go just slowly surface like a dead body rising in the water.
I stopped taking the aspirin because it didn't strike me as healthy. I tried resuming activities because I knew being bedridden wasn't going to help anything. I ordered horse chestnut (and take it three times a day as recommended) because it seemed to be one of the only things that could hypothetically help. I wear the socks when possible. My left leg hasn't gotten much worse from what I can tell, but the vein/s in my right leg are becoming even more noticeable. Still faint but I can see the vein/s surfacing slowly (I seemed to notice it more after I take the compression socks off, which fed other paranoia... what if they socks arn't helping? What if instead of pushing the blood up the compression near the calf is just pushing it back down?). I've debated just wearing the sock on my left leg, it seems to help there a bit. My leg hurts in various spots even when I wear it. As I type I get up and occasionally pace, wiggle my leg around, now the discomfort is near the middle to upper high.
Mentally this is probably taking its greatest toll. I debate how many veins I have that are "dead". I wonder how many I can afford to lose before this becomes a serious problem (I know I can afford to lose a "few" but exactly how many is that? At what point does this become a real health problem?). I wonder how grotesque it might become (at this point in time I feel comfortable walking around in shorts, around the house. I wouldn't imagine going outside in them though). If my wife is cuddling I take care to make sure she's not putting pressure on my legs. I try to dress in looser clothes. I prop my legs up but I can't do that all day.
I have now faced the reality that to my knowledge I have at least two varicose veins and I think three or even more. I have read up and the articles offer little encouragement. Large veins would have to be stripped. Stripping is not cosmetically perfect and besides that more could always show up. Right now I can live with it like it is. Hell I can live with the pain, I can live with twice the pain. That's the least of my concerns, I'd like to not have purple legs. I'd like to not have all the veins in my leg stop working.
Now that you've either skipped over or read my diatribe, I have a few basic bits of advice I would implore anyone that is in the know to provide:
A: My primary is prevention. I don't know how many veins are bad. I want to do anything I can (within reason) to prevent more veins from becoming varicose.
B: I need a simple and realistic list of do and do nots. I can't avoid walking and sitting, but if there are a few things I can specifically avoid or a few things I should go out of my way to do I welcome the advice. I need to find a way of functioning without constantly worrying that my activities are killing the veins in my leg.
C: If anyone has any insight into potential long term complications please do inform me. I am worried about what can happen if too many of these veins become varicose.
D: I am very concerned about appearance. Is there anything I can do specifically to help with how the veins look?
E: I do not know if there is any underlying condition that is causing this, if there's anything other than typical factors that I could be dealing with please let me know. I should state that I do not have health insurance (not that it usually covers "treatment" for varicose veins), so running off to a doctor is not the first option given the fact that my previous trips have been pointless.
I also have two more specific questions.
1: I am taking horse chestnut, and there seems to be practically nothing else that even has a chance to help. I saw something about Citrus Bioflavonoids, could that potentially help at all?
2: I'm losing faith in my pair of compression stockings. They end at the calf and the vein goes past that anyway. I was wondering if anyone could recommend a quality pair I could purchase. Or even one that looks a little more normal.
3: Any advice, treatment methods, etc.... Mainly I am just looking for a way to cope with the problem without letting it control me.
Thanks in advance for any help. I apologize for the lengthy post and for making a lot out of what most people view as a insignificant problem. I'm just faced with a myriad of concerns and I need to know that in the least I'm doing everything I can.
Thank you for your time,