When a vein in your leg suddenly becomes painful and red, it’s entirely understandable that you’re concerned. The pain, for one, is far from pleasant to deal with, and anything involving your cardiovascular system catches your full attention.

Of course, your first and best step is to pay a visit to Dr. Mark A. Matey and the team here at Jacksonville Vein Specialists. As our name suggests, veins are our specialty, so we can quickly diagnose and treat your painful vein.

To give you an idea about what we might find, we want to discuss one possible culprit behind painful leg veins — superficial venous thrombosis (SVT). Let’s take a look.

Leg vein basics

First, we want to spend a brief moment reviewing the function of the veins in your legs. To start, these blood vessels work hard to ferry blood back up to your heart to get more oxygen. Most of this work — about 90% — is done by veins that are located deeper inside the tissues in your legs. The 10% balance of the workload is handled by superficial veins that are found more toward the surface of your skin.

Common leg vein issues

Many of the vein problems that we handle, such as varicose veins, develop in the superficial veins in your lower legs. This issue occurs when blood stalls in the vein on its way back up to your heart, engorging the vein.

As you might have already deduced by the name, SVT is another condition that develops in the superficial blood vessels in your lower legs. With SVT, a blood clot forms in the superficial vein, causing it to become inflamed, which can make the vein quite painful.

The pain and swelling associated with SVT often come on rapidly as the clot first adheres to the wall of the blood vessel. The good news is that, since superficial veins aren’t surrounded by muscles, these clots usually won’t detach and travel up toward your heart.

These blood clots often form in varicose veins, which is why we mentioned them earlier.

Risk factors for SVT

There are several different risk factors for SVT, with age and gender heading the list. Most people who develop SVT are 60 or older, and women develop blood clots more than men, largely due to hormonal differences.

SVT — cause for concern?

We’ve already discussed that SVT isn’t usually cause for immediate concern as it’s unlikely that the clot will break away and cause problems. That said, people with SVT are 4-6 times more likely to develop more serious clotting issues, including deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

So, if you suspect that you have SVT, it’s vital that you come to see us for an evaluation. If we find SVT, we can treat the immediate problem and evaluate you for future issues, allowing you to stay one step ahead of more serious venous disease.

For expert diagnosis and treatment of superficial venous thrombosis, please contact one of our two offices in Jacksonville, Florida, at 904-423-1925 or book an appointment online.

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