Can Varicose Veins Cause Ankle Swelling?

Varicose veins can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild pain to open sores. Unfortunately, ankle swelling is a common symptom of varicose veins and can signal a more serious underlying problem.


How do varicose veins develop?

In order to understand why varicose veins can cause swollen legs and ankles, it’s helpful to understand how and why varicose veins are formed. Veins in the legs have one-way valves that enable the blood to flow against gravity. When everything is working as it should, venous blood circulates by being continually pumped upwards from the feet towards the heart. Varicose veins occur when the valves become leaky and defective, and are no longer able to push the venous blood upwards and against the force of gravity. When this happens, blood begins to collect in the lower legs.

So, why are my ankles swollen?

Swelling occurs when the backflow of blood begins to pool in the ankles and lower legs. Ankle and lower leg swelling can be mild to severe, depending on your specific condition and lifestyle. Being overweight or working at a job that requires you to stand for long periods throughout the day, for example, may make swelling worse. Ankle swelling that occurs as a result of varicose veins is often worse after you’ve been standing for long periods of time, as this is when the force of gravity is strongest in the lower legs and your veins are forced to work harder to pump blood towards the heart. After you’ve been sitting or lying down with your legs elevated, there’s less gravity for your veins to deal with, and the swelling will often subside.

Can it get worse?

If left untreated, some cases of varicose veins can cause complications such as venous stasis ulcers, which are a result of pooled blood leaking out of the vein and forming on the surface of the skin. When the blood has nowhere else to go, it may cause shallow wounds on the sides of the leg just above the ankle. Venous stasis ulcers will also cause the lower legs to swell, and they’re usually accompanied by other symptoms such as hyperpigmentation (darkening of skin color) of the legs, as well as moderate to severe pain.

Is treatment right for me?

Unfortunately, varicose veins don’t go away on their own. If you’re experiencing any symptoms such as visible veins, cramps or charley horses, leg or ankle swelling, heaviness, or pain in your legs, it’s important to see an experienced doctor to learn more about your options. Usually, CVI (Chronic Venous Insufficiency) is the culprit behind most types of varicose veins. Fortunately, treatment is often highly effective and minimally-invasive.

Dr. Kaveh at Alpha Vein Clinic is experienced in treating all types of vein-related conditions. If you’re wondering what treatment options might be best for you, please give us a call to schedule a consultation at (702) 233-1849.