Veins – Causes & Pain

Varicose, Spider & Reticular Veins


Ninety percent of varicosities are inherited from direct relatives; 10% of varicose veins are caused by an injury, an inflammation or from a deep venous thrombosis (blood clot). Women are more likely to suffer from abnormal leg veins. Hormonal factors including puberty, pregnancy, menopause, the use of birth control pills, estrogen and progesterone affect the disease. It is very common for pregnant women to develop varicose veins during the first trimester because pregnancy causes increases in hormone levels and blood volume, which in turn cause veins to enlarge. In addition, the enlarged uterus causes increased pressure on the veins.

Varicose veins due to pregnancy often improve within 3 months after delivery. However, with successive pregnancies, abnormal veins are more likely to remain. Other factors which can indirectly induce the formation of varicose veins are obesity, aging, excessive heat, including prolonged exposure to the sun, prolonged standing, constricting clothing and girdles, and disorders of the lower limbs and feet. These factors should be controlled to prevent varicose formation.


Varicose veins are the leading cause of leg pain in an otherwise healthy adult population and are more painful while they are forming because the walls of these veins are stretching. The pain, often a burning sensation, can subside for several years once the walls of the veins have stretched beyond their elasticity. At this time, heaviness, rather than pain, can be felt as well as an eczema-like appearance of the skin.

As previously mentioned, female hormones have an effect on varicose veins, resulting in some women experiencing greater pain before and during menstruation and during pregnancy. Other forms of discomfort experienced with varicose veins can be night cramps or “restless legs”, which cause the individual to shift leg positions frequently, as well as pain while standing or walking. Symptoms, often made worse by prolonged standing, include feelings of fatigue, heaviness, aching, burning, throbbing, itching and cramping. Leg swelling can also occur. Severe varicose veins can compromise the nutrition of the skin and lead to eczema, inflammation, or even ulceration of the lower leg.


Spider veins are tiny, thread-like, purplish-blue or red veins seen close to the surface of the skin. Spider veins are usually the result of larger underlying veins, are generally painless and do not lead to medical complications.


Reticular veins are turquoise-blue veins that are larger than spider veins, but smaller than varicose veins. These veins often feed into spider veins. These veins are most often seen around the thighs, behind the knee, lower leg and face. Contributing factors include genetics, age, weight, hormonal changes, pregnancy, occupational demands and warmer climates with greater sun exposure.

When they become varicose, they can cause sharp pains which can be pinpointed on the legs. Reticular veins cannot lead to medical complications.

If you are experiencing any of these pain symptoms, please contact us today for a consultation.