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Understanding Leg Vein Problems

Leg veins carry blood from your feet back to your heart. If a vein is damaged, blood flow back to the heart is reduced. As a result, you may develop vein problems in your legs.

Cutaway view of vein

Cutaway view of vein

Cutaway view of vein

Cutaway view of vein

A Damaged Vein

If heredity, an injury, or a blood clot weakens a vein, the wall near the valve begins to sag. The valve may no longer close fully, allowing blood to move backward. Most vein problems begin with damaged veins.

A “Ropy” Vein

Once a vein is damaged, blood pressing against the sagging wall may cause the vein to bulge or twist like a rope. Eventually, the valve can’t close. Blood may begin to pool or clot in the vein.

Pooling Blood

A valve that doesn’t close cannot hold blood. Blood moves backward. It pools around the first healthy valve that stops the blood from moving backward.

Clotting Blood

When blood moves slowly, it may collect above a valve. Over time, the blood forms a clot, which may grow big enough to close off the vein.

Vein problems can cause leg conditions, such as varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, or chronic venous insufficiency. Your health care provider can give you more information.

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/20/2014
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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