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Understanding Leg Vein Problems

Leg veins carry blood from your feet and legs back to your heart. If a vein is damaged, it may cause problems in your legs.

The problems that may happen from damage to the veins include: 

  • Varicose veins.  This a swollen, twisted vein located close to the skin.

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT).  This is a blood clot in one of the deep veins, usually of the legs. The clot can separate from the vein and travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism or PE). In the lungs, the clot can cut off the flow of blood. These two conditions together are called venous thromboembolism (VTE).

  • Chronic venous insufficiency.  This is a long-term problem with the veins not working well.

Your healthcare provider can give you more information on these conditions and how to prevent and treat them.

Cross section of muscle and varicose vein with damaged valve. Arrow shows blood moving down.
Varicose vein
Cross section of muscle and varicose vein with blood clot.
Deep vein thrombosis
Side view of leg showing ankle and foot swelling.
Chronic venous insufficiency

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have pain, swelling, or redness in one of your legs. These are the symptoms of a blood clot.

Call 911

Call 911 if you have:

  • Chest pain

  • Trouble breathing

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Sweating

  • Coughing (may cough up blood)

  • Fainting

These are the symptoms of a blood clot that has traveled to the lungs. This is a medical emergency and may cause death. 

© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.