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Keith M. Sterling, MD
Varicose Veins and Pelvic Pain
Association of Alexandria Radiologists, PC

Varicose Veins and Pelvic Pain

Many people hear the term “varicose veins” and automatically think about their legs. While varicose veins typically affect the legs, they can also affect other areas of the body, such as the pelvis, causing pelvic pain, lower back pain or pain during intercourse. This condition is also known as “pelvic congestion syndrome”.

Healthy veins contain valves that open and close to assist the return of blood back to the heart. Venous insufficiency develops when these valves become faulty and, instead of returning blood to the heart, allow blood to flow backwards (or reflux) and pool in the veins. It's the pressure from this pooling effect that can cause painful symptoms and even blood clots.

Faulty veins can be identified with simple imaging exams, typically ultrasound and/or MRI, and then treated with minimally invasive techniques performed by an interventional radiologist. Interventional radiologists are physicians with specialty training in minimally invasive procedures using imaging for guidance.

Once your condition has been diagnosed, it can be treated using tiny instruments that require just a small nick in the skin, about the size of a pencil tip and no surgical incisions or stitches. After treatment, blood can no longer flow in the wrong direction and painful symptoms are alleviated.

Approximately 25 million people in the U.S. are affected by venous disease and varicose veins are the most common (and most noticeable) sign of this condition. It's important to remember that varicose veins are a health problem and hallmark sign of venous disease.

This condition can be complex and requires proper diagnosis. The varicose veins in your legs may be caused by venous disease that starts in your pelvis. If your pelvic condition is not treated first, the veins in your legs will reappear and need to be re-treated. The great advantage of the modern treatments available today are that they are effective and minimally invasive. Procedures typically take less than one hour and provide relief almost immediately. There is little or no down time as most patients return to normal activity in 24-48 hours.

If you have varicose veins or suffer from other symptoms, including pelvic pain, leg pain or swelling, leg heaviness and fatigue or skin discoloration or ulceration, consult a specialist. You may be surprised to learn that treatment is not only available but may be covered by your insurance.

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