It seems like your legs can’t seem to catch a break. First, you develop varicose veins and, not long after, you begin to notice that a nearby joint, usually your knee, is starting to feel a little achy. It makes sense that you might assume that the two conditions are related.
The reality is that these are likely two different conditions. To explain the difference, Dr. Satjit Bhusri and the team here at The Vein Institute at Upper East Side Cardiology pulled together the following information.
To give you an idea about the crossover between varicose veins and joint pain, let’s take a look at some eye-opening numbers. First, about a third of adults in the United States develop varicose veins. Coincidentally, an estimated one-quarter to one-third of adults (92.1 million) report either doctor-diagnosed arthritis or arthritis symptoms, namely joint pain.
What these numbers tell us is that your odds of developing both varicose veins in your lower legs and pain in your knee (the most common joint that develops arthritis) are quite high.
To best illustrate the difference between varicose veins and joint pain, it helps to take a look at how each develops.
Varicose veins form because of venous insufficiency, which is a problem with how your veins deliver blood back up to your heart. Since there’s distance and gravity to contend with, the veins in your legs feature one-way valves that close as blood passes through, preventing the blood from spilling backward. If these valves weaken and they don’t close all the way, blood lingers in the vessel and the pressure causes the vein to engorge and push toward the surface.
As for that pain in your knee, if it’s consistent, deep, and flares with use, the odds are fairly good that you’ve developed knee osteoarthritis, which occurs when the protective cartilage inside the joint begins to break down, leading to inflammation, pain, and stiffness.
One of the primary reasons why people might assume the two conditions are connected is because varicose veins often form around the knees, especially behind the knee. If your varicose veins begin to ache in this area, it qualifies as joint pain in location only, as the discomfort doesn’t come from a problem inside the joint.
The best way to figure out what’s behind the pain around your knees is to come see us for a vein evaluation. During this visit, we can determine whether the discomfort stems from a problematic vein or whether your varicose veins and joint pain are two unrelated issues.
To get started, please call our New York City office on the Upper East Side at (212) 752-3464 to schedule a diagnostic appointment.