Known risk factors for vein disorders are heredity, being female, pregnancy and aging. Trauma, obesity, high heels, prolonged standing and wearing tight fitting cloths have all been blamed as potential causes of venous insufficiency, but studies have shown only weak associations with these. Research is ongoing as to the true underlying cause(s) of venous insufficiency.
If left untreated, chronic venous insufficiency may cause skin changes (known as stasis pigmentation or lipodermatosclerosis) around the ankles and lower legs and the skin takes on a brown leathery appearance. This denotes unhealthy skin, which may predispose individuals to open sores (ulcerations) and bleeding or bruising after a minor injury. Fortunately, this is relatively rare.
Most people struggling with vein disorders have a variety of leg symptoms which can include: aching, leg pain, fatigue/heaviness, swelling, restless legs, night cramps and pruritus (itchy legs). These symptoms often get worse as the day progresses and are sometimes relieved by leg elevation. It is important to note that venous insufficiency may be present in the absence of varicose or spider veins.