Heaviness in the legs is usually caused by a dysfunction of the vascular system, which results in swelling or edema and added weight to the legs. This added weight can make your legs feel more “full” and tired. Some describe the feeling as their legs being like “lead weights.” Standing adn walking can worsen these symptoms, and improve with rest and elevation.
Aching and pain in the legs is another symptom of varicose veins. Leaking varicose veins cause blood to pool and waste products to accumulate in the leg. Due to the buildup of pressure and toxins in the leg, aching, heaviness and fatigue can be experienced. Elevating the legs or applying compression stockings can usually improve the aching, though only temporarily.
When varicose veins become inflamed, they become very tender to the touch and can prevent circulation in the legs, which, in turn, is what causes the swelling, itchy skin, and aching. While some varicose veins are bulging and visible, some varicose veins are internal, but are also very tender. Standing for extended periods of time, excessive sun exposure, and lack of exercise can increase the feelings of tenderness.
Swelling due to varicose veins can vary from just a touch of swelling in the ankles to full-blown edema, which can make it difficult to even put on shoes. As a result of vein leakage, swelling usually worsens throughout the day and tends to settle in the ankles. Swelling is aggravated by heat, sitting, or standing. Elevating the legs, wearing compression stockings or walking can be effective in reducing swelling throughout the day.
Varicose veins can also lead to an itchy rash (called dermatitis). Where your varicose veins are located will determine where the dermatitis will affect you. Dermatitis can cause bleeding or skin ulcers if the skin is scratched or if it becomes more irritated.