What are the symptoms of varicose veins?

Dr. John T. Morris, DO
Vascular Surgeon

Symptoms of varicose veins include pain, described as an aching or cramping in the legs. Other common symptoms include tiredness, restlessness, burning, throbbing, tingling or heaviness in the legs. Pain from these veins is usually relieved by elevating the legs or by wearing support hose.

In women, symptoms may be worse during certain parts of the menstrual cycle or during pregnancy. Less common is swelling, ulcers and a darkening of the skin, especially in the ankle region. Occasionally, varicose veins can form a painful blood clot with inflammation of the vein, a condition called thrombophlebitis.

Dr. Michelle C. Kosovec, MD
Vascular Surgeon

Varicose veins may cause pain. Other symptoms of varicose veins include:

  • leg aching
  • leg swelling that can’t otherwise be explained
  • skin discoloration
  • ulcers

If varicose vein symptoms are affecting your lifestyle significantly, make an appointment with a doctor to be diagnosed and treated.

Symptoms of varicose veins could be heaviness, pain, heat and discomfort when standing or sitting for long periods.

Dr. Michael L. Schwartz, MD
Vascular Surgeon

Varicose veins may have no symptoms and may just be unsightly. However, some people with varicose veins complain of achy pains and leg swelling. Left untreated, varicose veins could lead to chronic skin changes in the leg.

Nearly one in every two adults 50 years or older develops varicose veins, which usually appear as swollen, twisted clumps of blue or purple blood vessels near the surface of the skin in the legs or pelvis. Common symptoms include leg swelling, muscle cramps, soreness, tiredness and aching in the legs, itchiness around the vein, skin discoloration and ulcers.

Dr. Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine Specialist

Varicose veins may be without symptoms or may be associated with fatigue, aching discomfort, feelings of heaviness or pain in the legs. Fluid retention (edema), discoloration and ulceration of the skin may also develop. Hemorrhoids are also varicose veins.

Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

More About this Book

Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

From the bestselling authors of The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, the most comprehensive and practical guide available to the nutritional benefits and medicinal properties of virtually everything...
Dr. John C. Lipman, MD
Vascular & Interventional Radiologist

Varicose veins may be asymptomatic and only a cosmetic concern. They can also cause symptoms; most commonly a tired, dull achy feeling in the affected leg. This pain is worse when the person is standing and relieved by putting the feet up. Occasionally, the varicose veins can itch. There can also be associated swelling.

Some common symptoms of varicose veins include:

  • Aching pain
  • Easily tired legs
  • Leg heaviness
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Darkening of the skin (in severe cases)
  • Numbness in the legs
  • Itching or irritated rash in the legs

This answer is based on source information from The National Women's Health Information Center.

Varicose veins are dark, bulging, twisted veins that usually appear on the back of the calf, on the inside of the leg, or in the groin. Varicose veins can become very uncomfortable, causing swelling as well as painful aching, throbbing, or cramping in the feet and legs.

Symptoms of varicose veins usually appear before the age of 40 and might include:

  • Swollen, twisted clusters of purple or blue veins
  • Swollen legs
  • Muscle cramps, soreness, or aching in the legs
  • Soreness behind the knee
  • Itching around the vein
  • Leg muscles that tire easily
  • Brown discoloration of the skin
  • Ulcers

Symptoms of varicose veins include dark blue or purple veins, or veins that bulge and look cord-like. Other symptoms often include burning, night cramps, swelling or redness that can be confused for cellulitis, ulcers or a feeling of "heavy legs."

Dr. Cheryl H. Hoffman, MD
Vascular & Interventional Radiologist

Symptoms of varicose veins most often include aching, heavy legs (most often at night or after exercise) and swelling. Minor injuries to areas affected by venous disease may bleed more than normal or take longer to heal. Skin over the area may become dry, itchy and thin, leading to eczema. The skin in the area may also darken, which is called stasis dermatitis. The skin above the ankle may shrink, and the fat underneath the skin will become atrophic and hard. Venous stasis ulcers may occur. Restless legs syndrome appears to be a common overlapping condition in patients with varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency.

Continue Learning about Spider Veins and Varicose Veins

Ways to Avoid and Manage Varicose Veins
Ways to Avoid and Manage Varicose Veins
On an episode of Friends, the gang arrives late to Monica and Chandler’s for dinner. “I bet that vein on Monica’s forehead is popping like crazy,” say...
Read More
What causes varicose veins?
Suzanne E. Ozbun, MDSuzanne E. Ozbun, MD
Varicose veins may occur during pregnancy because of congestion of the veins. Basically, the baby pu...
More Answers
Should I see a doctor about varicose veins?
Piedmont Heart InstitutePiedmont Heart Institute
Varicose veins can cause achy throbbing pain in one or both legs. The pain is worsened with prolonge...
More Answers
How Does Sclerotherapy Work?
How Does Sclerotherapy Work?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.