Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 27 >> Van Dyck to Yaper >> Varicose Veins

Varicose Veins

disease, pressure and stocking

VARICOSE VEINS, a diseased condition of the veins in which they become dilated, and assume a tortuous course, presenting to the touch a soft elastic sensation, except in the situation of their valves, where they form hard knotty swellings, generally of a dark bluish color. This disease occurs most frequently in the lower limbs, and is indeed a very common affection there; but it also occurs in the veins of the spermatic cord, producing varicocele, and in those at the lower part of the rectum, form ing in the latter case the tumors called bleed ing piles. In the Iower limbs varix is often complicated with peculiar indolent ulcers, and sometimes the varix bursts and hninorrhage takes place, which if not speedily stopped may lead to death. Varicose veins are caused by some obstruction to the free return of the venous blood toward the heart under pressure of the action of the capillaries. The veins are enlarged in diameter, and lengthened through this pressure, and their walls become very thin in some cases, and may even break under the skin exhibiting more or less extravasation.

Such obstruction may arise from tumors within the abdomen, enlargement of the liver causing pressure on the ascending versa cava, pregnancy, constipation of the bowels, tight gartering and other causes. As to the treatment, the first step of course is to remove the cause of the disease, whenever that is possible. If the dis ease is grappled with at an early stage much good may be effected by enjoining complete rest in a horizontal posture, by bathing the limb with cold water twice or thrice a day, and by the use of a properly applied bandage or laced stocking. In moderate cases the condition may be greatly improved and is often dissipated by the continuous wearing of a snugly fitting elas tic stocking. When the disease is far advanced no radical cure can be effected except by a surgical operation in which the obstructed part of the vein is excised. The, patient will gen erally do better to rest content with a palliative treatment.