View Full Version : varicose vein pain

10-29-2006, 03:50 AM
Recently I've been woken in the night with a pretty sharp pain in my rt thigh. Oddly, not a joint pain, seemed to be in the muscle, and only an area of a couple inches. I tried waiting it out, but it's hanging on and getting sharper and more reliable. (Yeah, I'm calling the doc on monday, need a physical and thyroid check anyway) When I showed DH the spot - by lamplight rather than daylight, it became obvious:eek: that I have pretty whopping varicosity there. Due to genetics and long houred-jobs totally on my feet, I've had some visible veins for years, but no discomfort, ever. Have any of you dealt with this?

I must say that it seems very unfair that NOW, when I'm taking such good care of myself and getting so fit, I'm aging ANYWAY!!

10-29-2006, 05:21 AM
Thankfully, they don't run in my family. My SIL and her mom have these so I just IM'd the SIL. They both are on their feet all day (hairstylists) but have had them since having kids. They both got laser surgery. They love it. She thought they did an Ultra Sound "map" of the vein. Then, she describes it as placing a thin wire in the vein, like a catheter, and giving a shock that burns/collapses it. No more big surgery to strip it out. Instant relief. Cardiovascular docs do them.

Hope this helps.

10-29-2006, 06:36 AM
I have a whopping varicose vein in my left leg that I got while I was preggers.

Sometimes it does some wildly creative pains/acheing.

My doc is not all that interested in me getting it fixed (says it's not really bad enough) but I'm thinking it needs to go. I work on my feet all day. I have compression stockings to wear when I fly or go on long drives because it has a history of throwing clots.

Mine has hurt less as I've started riding more.

I like the idea of cautery rather than vein stripping. I'll have to do some serious looking into that.

10-29-2006, 06:50 AM
Knotted, I'm sure he was worth it. I bet it looks all exotic and gorgeous.
I've noticed that some of the girls (most are younger than me) are wearing compression stockings to work now. They say their legs have more pep at the end of the day. Does that have to do with the "valves" in the vasculature getting to rest a little more? I'm thinking of trying it but I don't want to disturb my geographic lack of circulation/sensation on the left. Although, biking has greatly increased the amount of bounce I have at the end of the day. I'm the energizer bunny these days. I love a natural high. (never experienced the other kind)

11-03-2006, 12:14 PM
Well, I've been to the doc and she confirms VV. She put me on 2 supplements - one has calcium, butcher's broom, horse chesnut and gotu kola, the other is nattokinase, an enzyme from soybeans. She's had good results with other patients. I'm also rubbing the area with the tiger balm analgesic cream before bed. I'm looking on the bright side - I don't have to limit activity at all!

I think I will start to investigate surgery - see if I can find other women in my area who had it, etc.

I also bought a vit K cream for leg massage - figure it can't hurt, and I like to moisturize alot any way. Now that I'm paying attention, my legs are quite the road map...on the other hand, they are very, very strong legs.

11-06-2006, 10:28 AM
I've been through this and had the surgery Xrayted mentions. I had a varicosity on the inside of my left knee area since my one pregnancy (ended in miscarriage) nine years ago. Over the past year or so, it started getting achier. Nothing sharp, but an annoying pain, sometimes during hikes, sometimes while just sitting around. The veins also started getting bigger and uglier. I mentioned it to my primary care doc, and she recommended going to the vascular clinic at UNC to have it checked. When it hurts, it's not just a cosmetic thing, there is an actual circulatory issue going on.

So, I made an appt. and went to the vascular clinic, where ultrasound and compression tests confirmed "greater saphenous vein insufficiency". I had to wear compression stockings (ICK ICK ICK!) during the day for three months to see if it got better (nope), and because it did not, the doctor put in a request to my insurance company for EVLT (laser surgery - minimally invasive), and they approved it. You can read more about this procedure here (http://www.evlt.com/evlt.jsp). It is only done at certain facilities, which is another reason I chose to go to UNC; I had already researched it in advance and was hoping I might be a candidate.

The surgery (quick, outpatient) went very well. My leg was wrapped tightly for two days to help keep the vein tightly compressed, then I returned to the hospital to have the bandages taken off. I only had a couple of little puncture marks where they threaded the wire into the length of the saphenous vein from below my knee to my groin. Pain was very mild. I had to wear the compression stocking for a couple more weeks, then was able to slowly get back to riding. After having the stocking off, within a couple of weeks I was completely back to normal. I do have a numb area on the back of my leg where I assume some nerves were slightly damaged during surgery, but it's very minor and I only notice it if I scratch back there.

The bulging veins weren't actually removed. They were right below the saphenous vein that was sealed shut and received their blood supply from it. A followup ultrasound revealed that they are now receiving blood from a deeper vein and that the saphenous vein is completely closed. On occasion the varicosities still bulge ever so slightly, but lots less than before, and most importantly, I have had NO vein pain at all since the surgery.

I highly recommend it if you are feeling varicose pain and tests show that you are a good candidate. EVLT is covered by many insurance programs if you have documented pain, like I did, but not for purely cosmetic purposes. So make sure to mention the pain to your doctor and specialist, if you see one (don't emphasize the cosmetic side of it; an improvement there is just a pleasant side effect of the surgery). My vascular surgeon told me that although it wasn't imperative that I get it fixed right away, it would only get worse (slowly) over time, and he left it completely up to me whether to pursue it now or wait awhile longer. Knowing that I was an athlete, he completely understood why living with compression stockings for a long period of time was not an option, and he also felt that they were just a "band-aid", not a permanent fix, but something we had to try first since insurance companies require "conservative treatment" be tried prior to approving surgery. I'd highly recommend doing the stockings during the winter since they are hot, and you won't want to wear shorts with them on!

Any other questions about the surgery or anything else? Just ask!


11-07-2006, 06:07 PM
Em, you're a gem! Thanks for taking the time to walk me through the whole process. I have never had any kind of surgery but am getting pretty serious about this, since being woken every night by pain will have a negative aspect on my health in general. I will give the supplements some time to work, but I'm going to start researching docs around here because I think that's where I'm headed. I'm sure I'll hit you with more questions later!

02-02-2007, 03:49 PM
Hi all, I read about Emily's surgery (EVLT) and also latelatebloomers varicose vein problems and I wanted to share some of my own difficulties with VV's and ask you guys some questions. First of all I have had VV for years now, and yes, cycling really helps alot, but I'm a surgical nurse and spend alot of time on my feet and the past couple years I have had more and more pain. I have been wearing support hose for at least 2 years (just when I go to work).
Heres the thing... I can deal with the pain in my everyday living, but I'm wondering how much the varicose veins EFFECT my cycling. I raced road last year and many times experienced cramping in my right calf (my right leg is worse than my left). When I have intense hard workouts and go to sprint, I sometimes feel like someone is squeezing my whole right leg, especially in my calves, I feel this tightness and some cramping. I can't help but wonder if my varicose veins have something to do with this. I've been training really hard to be ready to race again this year, but I worry if the VV hold me back from being stronger and faster on the bike. I've seen 3 cardiovascular docs and none of them think the VV make my cycling worse. They do however, say that cycling will help prevent the VV from getting worse (of course we already know that). As a nurse and as an athlete, I can't help but wonder, if the circulation is not efficient and the blood with the lactic acid cannot be taken away quick enough, can't that result in cramping and pain in the muscles? Well, after seeing 3 surgeons, none of them seem to be able to tell me what I want to hear--that the EVLT surgery WILL in fact, help my legs to function better on the bike. None of them would guarantee this. They all said, that definitely, I should have less pain (in general) and especially after a long day at work... but what I'm really hoping for, is that it helps my legs feel better after a long day on my bike!! Emily, you are the only female cyclist I have heard of that has had this surgery---please share with me your feelings about this procedure and HOW IT EFFECTED your cycling. My surgery is scheduled for February 26th and they are also doing a ligation and a phlebectomy. The surgeon did ultrasound my leg and said I am definitely a candidate and my saphenous veins are incompetent. I wanted to do this in the winter before racing season started, but I just found out my insurance will pay for this 100%!! So I think I should do it now and get it over with and hope that I'm not off the bike too long and can get right back into it and maybe race about one month after the surgery. The doctor said he wants me off the bike for at least one week. I'm wondering how it will feel once I get back to riding. I guess my biggest fear is that I will lose alot of fitness and maybe even have more pain than before. Or that it takes me out of the racing season for months. Any comments or advice is appreciated!!! THanks for reading my long post!! Susie

02-02-2007, 04:28 PM
Hi Susie!

I sure wish I could help you more, but in my case, my vein pain never affected my cycling prior to surgery. I only felt it during hiking, standing for periods of time, and when sitting around at home. My pain was pretty confined to the inside of my left knee only. It sounds like you have much more severe, widespread pain and worse varicosities than I did, so I suspect that you will have a significant improvement after your surgery. That improvement should carry over to cycling as well as every day activities and standing, which I am sure you must do a lot of in your line of work.

I'm not a doctor and can't give you an assurance that your cycling will be improved, just like they can't, but my gut feeling is that anything that improves the circulation in your legs and minimizes your vein pain is going to help your cycling quite a bit! So I definitely think you are doing the right thing in having the surgery. Since it is covered by your insurance, you really have nothing to lose in getting it done. I had to pay 20% for mine because I am on an 80/20 insurance plan, and it was pricier than I expected (about $14K including all appointments, tests, follow-ups, and they actually used general anesthesia, which surprised me -- that is more expensive than other forms of anesthesia). But it was worth it to me.

The fact that you are also having additional procedures done, and I assume both legs at once, makes me question them saying you can ride after one week! I was told not to do any exercise other than normal day-to-day walking and nothing strenuous (heavy lifting, etc) for two weeks after surgery, and to be honest, I didn't feel much like riding for three weeks. The leg felt odd for a few weeks following surgery, and I'd get a pulling sensation when I walked, which they said was very normal. However, once I did ride again, I was completely fine, so I probably could have started back after just two weeks, but I was mountain biking so was trying to be even more careful than usual.

I don't think you should worry about being out for months or losing a lot of fitness in just a couple of weeks off the bike. It will come back very fast, and the end result should be well worth a couple of weeks off. It was for me.

As a follow-up, I'll tell you that I have not had ANY vein pain (even though my veins were not removed, just the greater saphenous vein closed off) since the surgery, so it was a success in that regard. Cosmetically, the veins are still a little more visible than I'd like, but the bulging is less, and they are not as noticeable. So, I'd say I am "fairly satisfied" from a cosmetic standpoint and "very satisfied" from a pain standpoint.

Good luck, and let me know if you have any additional questions! I'll be interested to hear how your surgery and recovery goes, so make sure to post a follow-up here, if you would be so kind.

latelatebloomer - somehow I missed your post from 11/7. Did you decide to have the surgery?


02-02-2007, 07:05 PM
This is interesting. I don't know how many of you have been following the thread about my leg ulcer, but it's related to circulation problems and fluids that wouldn't clear out of the wound site - and the treatment, involving compression dressings, has been very successful so far. Your VVs can turn into ulcers, usually at the ankle - and boy do you want to get it taken care of before then. My mom had VV surgery 20 years ago and said it wasn't bad then and it can only have improved since then.

Several friends in my age group (early 30's) have had veins done but I don't know any who voluntarily wear compression stockings....

02-03-2007, 04:17 AM
I am in the middle of dealing with my VV problems right now. I am deciding between EVLT and sclerotherapy for my biggies, and doing sclerotherapy on the ones that are merely ugly and not painful.

EVLT is done by interventional radiologists and by various "vein specialists". Vascular surgeons tend to do the stripping which I did have done about 5 years ago for a giant honker of a vein. That I do NOT recommend to anyone. My surgeon required me to have general anesthesia which really sucked.

I am actually looking forward to sclerotherapy (injection) or laser and being done with the throbbing in my thighs. I hate that incessant throbbing! Nowadays stripping is done very rarely and if your doc suggests it, go see an interventional radiologist!

02-03-2007, 10:08 AM
Thanks for your reply Emily! You made me feel better and more at ease about going through with this procedure (EVLT). I do worry about the amount of pain I'll have afterwards. Just one more question for you...How long did you experience that "pulling sensation"?? Did it go away after 3 or 4 weeks?? Thanks again for your help. I will let you know how it goes after I've had it done!

02-03-2007, 05:25 PM
EVLT is done by interventional radiologists and by various "vein specialists". Vascular surgeons tend to do the stripping which I did have done about 5 years ago for a giant honker of a vein. That I do NOT recommend to anyone. My surgeon required me to have general anesthesia which really sucked.

My EVLT was done by a vascular surgeon (vascular surgery dept. at UNC). Stripping is much less common these days, he said. I'm lucky to have very good hospitals where I live, though. Both UNC and Duke offer EVLT.

I actually liked having the general anesthesia as I didn't want to feel any pain - and I didn't. I don't have any problems with anesthesia, though. Most who have EVLT have only local anesthetic or IV sedation, but I guess since I went to a vascular surgeon, I got the full kit and kaboodle. It was more expensive as a result. I was very pleased with my surgeon, though.

My varicosities were too large for sclerotherapy -- I'd asked my dermatologist before I went for a consult for EVLT.


02-03-2007, 05:27 PM
Just one more question for you...How long did you experience that "pulling sensation"?? Did it go away after 3 or 4 weeks??

Yes, I felt completely normal after three weeks and close to normal after two. The pulling sensation was mild. I could still take walks. It was just something I was aware of -- not really pain, just an odd sensation. The RN told me that it was more common in thin people, for some reason, and that not everyone feels it.

Good luck, and please do check back in after your surgery!


09-13-2011, 10:12 AM
I've got a big honker of a VV that runs down the inside of my left thigh down to my knee. I asked my doc about it a couple of months ago, but she said it wasn't worrisome if it wasn't causing pain.