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Venous disease refers to all conditions related to or caused by veins that become diseased or abnormal. Venous disease is quite common – about 15 percent of the adult population is affected. Mild venous disease is usually not a problem for patients, but as venous disease worsens, it can become crippling chronic venous insufficiency.

Venous disease occurs when a vein is not functioning properly, causing a disturbance in normal blood flow. The cause of most vein problems is venous insufficiency. This happens when veins widen and stretch (dilate) and the valves are not able to close properly. Because of this, diseased veins have difficulty carrying blood back to the heart. Venous disease causes pain, swelling, cramps, discoloration at the ankles and ulcers.


Spider veins are clusters of small, unsightly veins that may appear red, purple, or blue. Spider veins are the smallest type of varicose vein and are usually only a cosmetic concern since they are generally medically insignificant. But in some people, they may be painful. They most commonly appear on the thigh, calf, ankle and face. They lie very close to the surface of the skin. Although they are connected to the larger venous system they are not essential to it. It is estimated that about 50 percent of adult females are affected with spider veins.


Varicose veins are larger than spider veins. The word “varicose” comes from the latin word “varix,” which means twisted. Varicose veins are usually blue and tend to bulge. As they enlarge, they may even become twisted, tortuous, gnarled, or even cord-like. They can occur anywhere in your leg from your groin to your ankle. Any vein can become a varicose vein, but they most commonly occur in your legs and feet.

Many people with varicose veins do not experience discomfort. In some cases, as more and more blood flows backward in the abnormal vein, the vein can become leaky causing symptoms of leg swelling and leg aches. Occasionally burning and throbbing occurs in your muscles as blood pools or backs up in your legs. Symptomatic varicose veins usually require treatment.