The body has a unique design that allows it to circulate oxygen, nutrients, and waste in a safe and efficient way. The circulatory system plays a large role in this, particularly the veins. Veins take oxygen deprived blood and return it back to the heart where it can get oxygen yet again. When blood travels through the arteries, it does so under pressure because of the heart. However, when blood travels back to the heart through the veins, it does so in a passive way and is moved along by the different muscles in the body.
The veins can develop two types of diseases. One disease stems from a blockage in the vein, which is a blood clot, or thrombosis. The other is drainage insufficiency.
Blood clots can either happen in the veins that sit right underneath the skin or the veins that are deeper inside of the arms or legs. When a blood clot happens on the veins that are closer to the skin, it is easy to see because it shows itself as a red streak that follows along the course of the vein. There is often inflammation and pain that accompany this type of thrombosis. When a person touches the vein, it may feel warmer than the rest of the body, and it might also be swollen.
When this blood clot is superficial, it is more of an annoyance than a danger. It is very likely that blood clots that form closer the skin will deteriorate. Usually, a physician can treat these superficial blood clots by encouraging the patient to elevate their legs, take anti-inflammatory medicine, or ingest blood thinning medication.
Deep vein thrombosis is more serious. It is a challenge to diagnose this type of vein disease because only half of the patients present symptoms. When patients do have symptoms, they are in the form of pain, difficulty walking, pressure, or a heaviness in the legs. Deep vein thrombosis is divided into two categories, primary and secondary. Primary deep vein thrombosis can develop without there being a clear cause. There may be some genetic tendencies toward this type of clotting. Secondary deep vein thrombosis has an identifiable cause. For example, a patient might have it because they were immobilized following surgery or an injury. It can also be the result of cancer.
When a person has a blood clot, it is difficult for the blood in their extremities to make it back to the heart. The blood will travel back, but it will need to use alternative veins. Since the veins are not designed for this heavy traffic, they will leak fluid, and this will lead to leg swelling. Physicians have multiple techniques that they can use to diagnose and treat vein disorders.