By Dr. Rimas Gilvydis
Patients often tell me they wish they would have sought treatment for their leg vein issues sooner.
Many people think nothing can be done about their vein conditions and related leg pain – that the treatment would be too painful or deemed “cosmetic” and not covered by insurance. Sometimes, individuals don’t realize their leg pain is caused by varicose veins.
One hurdle we often encounter is patients don’t often address these issues with their primary care physicians, and, in turn, those physicians aren’t familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins.
Part of our work at Northern Illinois Vein Clinic involves educating hospital and other health care providers about vein issues so patients can access the diagnostic care and treatment they need. About 50 to 55 percent of women and 40 to 45 percent of men in the U.S. suffer from some type of vein problem, and varicose veins affect half of people 50 years and older, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Have you been experiencing leg pain or are you frustrated by varicose or spider veins? Here are some tips for talking to your doctor and some important questions to ask at your next appointment.
Be mindful of your symptoms. Talk to your doctor (and be forthcoming and honest) if you’re experiencing any of these leg issues: aching pain, easily tired legs, leg heaviness, leg swelling, darkening of the skin (in severe cases) or ulcers, numbness, itching or irritated rash, restless legs (especially at night) and difficulty standing or sitting for long periods of time.
Do I need a referral to see a vein specialist? Patients are often referred to specialists within their health systems to treat issues beyond general, everyday care, but this should not limit your search for the best vein treatment. Check with your insurance to see if you need a referral to see a specialist. Our clinics do not require a referral.
Who is qualified to treat my leg issues? Look for a physician who is board-certified in interventional radiology and has experience with and specializes in minimally invasive treatments that decrease risk, pain and recovery time for leg vein patients.
Are my leg issues related to the normal aging process? Not necessarily, especially if you’re experiencing any combination of the symptoms listed above. Insist that these issues are concerning and are deserving of further evaluation. It’s not normal to end the day with painful or achy legs. It’s only after we treat these issues that patients often realize their symptoms were the result of varicose veins and outpatient, minimally invasive treatment is available.
Sign up for a screening. We regularly offer free leg vein screenings, which are a great place to start. Check the schedule for upcoming screenings.