Vein problems: these are the causes and therapies
Venous disorders, which are usually associated with venous pain, are now a widespread disease. More and more people have problems with their veins, especially in the lower leg area. Unfortunately, this is played down too often. By timely diagnosis, dangerous vein diseases could be avoided.
Functions of the veins in the human body
Veins are vessels in the human body that conduct blood to the heart. There are venous valves in the small and medium-sized blood vessels, which are supposed to prevent the blood from flowing back, which means that the blood of the veins should always flow towards the heart. These venous valves are made of connective tissue and act like valves, so they only open towards the heart. Intact venous valves are a prerequisite for the proper functioning of blood transport to the heart. In addition, the further transport of the blood is supported by the pumping of the skeletal muscles.
There are three types of veins on the legs. These are deep veins that are deep in the muscles and have the task of transporting the blood back to the heart. Then there are the superficial leg veins, which lie like a net under the skin. The deep and superficial venous systems are connected by so-called perforating veins, which allow the blood to flow from the surface into the depth, as in one-way streets.
Causes venous pain
The first thing to mention here is the weakness of the connective tissue, which can lead to venous disorders and the resulting venous pain. This is mostly genetic. However, it can also be acquired later, for example through pregnancy.
In general, the veins lose elasticity and suppleness in old age, can expand or bulge, which means that the important venous valve function deteriorates over time. However, not only older people suffer from venous diseases, more and more younger people are affected, especially women.
Inflammation of the vein, which is sometimes associated with massive pain, usually arises in existing varicose veins. These are serpentine, dilated veins, most commonly found on the calves.
Thrombosis is another cause of venous pain. A vein is blocked by a blood clot, which can be very dangerous.
Varicose vein pain
The most common venous diseases, which can also be associated with venous pain, include varicose veins. These are serpentine, dilated veins, which are mainly found on the lower legs. Women are affected much more often than men, due to pregnancy and the natural predisposition to connective tissue weakness. Varices are not only a cosmetic problem, but can also have health effects, depending on the form.
With primary varicosis, the varicose veins arise due to weak vein walls or venous valve insufficiency. Most of the time there is an inherited disposition. Sedentary or standing activity, obesity, smoking, pregnancy and taking the pill can have a positive effect on the development of varicosis. A secondary varicosis develops on the floor of existing vein diseases, for example following leg vein thrombosis.
Varicose veins can be symptom-free for a long time and are only a cosmetic problem. Those affected also complain of a feeling of heaviness and tension in the legs and swollen or fat legs, especially after long standing or sitting. Nocturnal muscle cramps and vein problems, which present themselves as stinging calf pain, are also symptomatic here.
Vein disease thrombophlebitis
Another disease that may be the cause is thrombophlebitis (inflammation of the superficial veins). In the abacterial form, a blood clot forms in a superficial vein, usually on a varicose vein of the lower leg, after which leukocytes (white blood cells) migrate and inflammation develops.
Bacterial thrombophlebitis can develop due to a slight injury or after injections and venous access, but here on veins that are not varicose changed. In the worst case, the introduced pathogens can spread throughout the body via the blood.
The bacterial form of thrombophlebitis causes reddening, overheating and swelling. Venous pain is shown here as tenderness to pressure on the affected vein line, but without impairing the general condition. In bacterial inflammation, the local symptoms are similar to those of the abacterial form, with symptoms such as fever, chills or even necrosis of the affected tissue.
Cause deep vein thrombosis
Drawing venous pain usually occurs in connection with phlebothrombosis (deep vein thrombosis). This is the occlusion of a deep leg or pelvic vein caused by thrombosis. About 60 percent of the left leg is affected. A thrombus is a blood clot that, when it clogs a blood vessel, leads to thrombosis. This can become a life-threatening condition, especially if the deep leg veins are affected.
Causes of phlebothrombosis are prolonged bed rest, damage to the vascular wall, for example after trauma, or a change in the blood composition in the form of an increased tendency to clot. Affected suffer from a feeling of tension and heaviness in the affected leg, venous pain that occurs depending on the load, possibly combined with a pulling pain along the affected vein. A general feeling of illness and moderately high fever are also possible. The worst complication of this condition is pulmonary embolism.
Venous disease risk factors
Some risk factors are responsible for the development of venous disorders and pain. Lack of exercise, sedentary work, especially with crossed legs, long standing and shoes that are too tight can cause the symptoms. Heat, obesity, clothing that is too tight, which impedes blood flow, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption also have a negative effect on the venous vessels and can lead to venous diseases and the associated venous pain.
Taking the contraceptive pill, especially in connection with tobacco consumption, is also one of the risk factors. Travel where the seating position is restricted, for example by bus or plane, does not exactly have a positive effect on the venous blood flow.
Therapy for venous pain
In the event of venous pain, tension and heaviness and / or discoloration of the leg, a doctor must be consulted in any case. For varicose veins, compression treatment is usually recommended, depending on the form. Affected people receive so-called compression stockings, which are usually made to measure. This treatment compresses the superficial veins and thereby directs the blood into the underlying veins. The pain, swelling and feeling of tension are improved.
Especially when traveling, when long sitting is pre-programmed, these compression stockings should be worn. Before using them, however, it must be clarified that there is no thrombosis and that the underlying veins are really open. Compression stockings should never be used without consulting a doctor. Special venous gymnastics and lymphatic drainage are also among the therapeutic options for varicose veins. In severe cases, varices are surgically removed.
With superficial thrombophlebitis, the patient gets a compression bandage and has to deal with it a lot. Bed rest is contraindicated here. Alcohol packs and heparin ointments are used externally. Pain relievers may be necessary.
Deep vein thrombosis must be prevented from developing pulmonary embolism. A compression bandage is used to try to direct blood flow in the right direction. The patient has to guard the bed for about a week. In order to protect the body from new thrombi, the person concerned is subjected to anticoagulation therapy. These are medicines that thin the blood. If the thrombi are fresh, an attempt is made to dissolve them with medication with the help of thrombolysis therapy.
Naturopathy for venous pain
Even though conventional medical treatment is often necessary for venous pain, naturopathic therapy can be very supportive in some cases. Existing venous damage can of course no longer be reversed, but symptoms can be alleviated and further damage avoided
For varicose veins and thrombophlebitis, leech therapy is used in naturopathic practices. These small animals give off a secretion during treatment, which has an anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic effect. However, the leeches should never be placed directly on the vein.
Enzyme therapy is slightly thinning, anti-inflammatory and anti-edematous. From homeopathy, Aesculus is used for venous pain and thrombosis tendency, arnica if the varicose veins are sensitive to touch or lycopodium (club moss) if a venous congestion situation has occurred.
Treading water, knees and thighs have a toning effect on the walls of the vessels and promote blood circulation. Envelopes soaked in witch hazel or comfrey solution help alleviate venous pain and have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Phytotherapy has a number of plants for vein disorders that are used successfully. There are many mixed preparations on the market that, when administered internally, have their place in many naturopathic practices.
Horse chestnut extract is particularly well known for venous disorders. Butcher's broom, stone clover and witch hazel are effective plants that are found in many drop mixtures. Horse chestnut improves blood flow and tightens the veins, butthorn tones the veins and has an anti-inflammatory effect, the witch hazel is anti-inflammatory and astringent and the stone clover is used for all diseases of the venous system.
Schuessler salts such as No. 1 Calcium fluoratum, No. 11 Silicea, No. 17 Manganum sulfuricum and No. 7 Magnesium phosphoricum are used for venous pain.
Preventive measures and home remedies for vein problems
Movement is the be-all and end-all. Instead of using the elevator, preference is given to the stairs. Regular walks, swimming, gymnastics and other sporting activities ensure healthy veins and prevent venous pain. Frequent lifting of the legs is especially important for those who have weak connective tissue. This can be done both sitting and lying down. Special venous pillows or a rolled-up blanket help with this.
Daily application of cold in the form of Kneipp casts promotes blood flow to the vessels. Starting with the right foot, the legs are showered with cold water up to the thigh. Excessive heat such as saunas, sun baths and hot water bottles should be avoided. A healthy, vitamin-rich and high-fiber diet reduces the excess weight. Smoking and the predisposition to venous disorders do not go together at all. It is best to avoid this completely and also to limit excessive alcohol consumption.
For people who already have varicose veins, who often have venous pain and / or swollen legs, wearing compression stockings is a relief, but this should definitely be discussed with a doctor. The stockings support the backflow of blood towards the heart. Standing and sitting for too long, jeans that are too tight and incorrect footwear should be avoided.
A proven home remedy for varicose veins is a wrap with marigold tea. For this, an infusion of a tablespoon of marigolds and half a liter of boiling water is prepared, which should take at least ten minutes. When the tea is no longer boiling hot, it cools down in the fridge. As soon as it is cold enough, a cloth is soaked in it and wrapped around the calf. (sw)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- H. Gerlach et al .: Diagnostics and therapy of venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, German. Society for Angiology - Society for Vascular Medicine, (accessed August 28, 2019), AWMF
- James D. Douketis: Deep Vein Thrombosis (TVT), MSD Manual, (accessed 08/28/2019), MSD
- Heike Höfler: Healthy veins, beautiful legs, Schlütersche Verlag, 2nd edition, 2015