Leg pain can be due to a muscle cramp (also called a charley horse). Common causes of cramps include:

  • Dehydration or low amounts of potassium, sodium, calcium, or magnesium in the blood
  • Medicines (such as diuretics and statins)
  • Muscle fatigue or strain from overuse, too much exercise, or holding a muscle in the same position for a long time

Other common causes of leg pain include:

  • Causes of Lower Leg PainAtherosclerosis that blocks blood flow in the arteries (this type of pain, called claudication, is generally felt when exercising or walking and is relieved by rest)
  • Blood clot (deep vein thrombosis) from long-term bed rest
  • Infection of the bone (osteomyelitis) or skin and soft tissue (cellulitis)
  • Inflammation of the leg joints caused by arthritis or gout
  • Nerve damage common in people with diabetes, smokers, and alcoholics
  • Varicose veins

Lower Leg Pain

Most deep vein blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) occur in the lower leg or thigh. They also can occur in other parts of the body. Sitting for long periods when traveling can increase the risk of DVTs. Not having enough water in your body (dehydration) also causes blood clots.

With varicose veins, one of the symptoms is swelling and lower leg calf pain after you sit or stand for long periods of time.

In the summertime, it’s common for people to sit for long periods of time, either because of long road trips or because it’s too hot to do physical activity. It’s also easier to become dehydrated because we are sweating more than normal. It’s important to remember however that leg pain can be a symptom of a serious vein issue, and sometimes it’s “not just a cramp.”

If you are experiencing lower leg pain or swelling, call Bunker Vein at (512) 726-0599 to make an appointment.

Information source: Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, From the National Institutes of Health

Photo Credit: Keerati via Free Digital Photos

It’s important year-round to live a healthy lifestyle to prevent varicose veins — one of the common symptoms of varicose veins, caused by venous insufficiency, is leg swelling. Leg swelling can affect men as well as women.

Leg swelling can be a symptom of varicose veinsPainless swelling of the feet and ankles can be a common problem, especially among older people. But for some people, abnormal buildup of fluid in the ankles, feet, and legs is called edema, and it can be a result of a blood clot in the leg or veins in the legs that cannot properly pump blood back to the heart.

As we approach the warmer months of summer, this condition can get much worse. With upcoming holidays such as Father’s Day and Fourth of July, there will be temptations to eat grilled meats, potato chips, and other snack foods that contain a lot of salt. Cold-cuts, which are used in sandwiches and popular at picnics, are also high in sodium.

Even though salads are healthy, salad dressing is also high in salt. Also, many people become more sedentary during the warmer months, taking long road trips or wanting to spend time sitting indoors in the cool air-conditioning instead of walking outside.

Tips to Reduce Leg Swelling

  • Raise your legs above your heart while lying down.
  • Exercise your legs. This helps pump fluid from your legs back to your heart. Join a gym or go swimming if it’s too hot outside!
  • Follow a low-salt diet, which may reduce fluid buildup and swelling.
  • Wear support stockings (sold at most drug and medical supply stores).
  • When traveling, especially on road trips, take breaks often to stand up and move around.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing or garters around your thighs.
  • Lose weight if you need to.

If you are experiencing leg swelling and feel that it may be due to varicose veins or venous insufficiency, call (512) 726-0599 or learn more about our free screening.

Photo Credit: James Heilman via Wikimedia Creative Commons cc

Itchy Legs Could Mean Varicose VeinsItchy legs is a commonplace symptom that is sometimes incorrectly diagnosed as dry skin. If you have varicose veins in your legs, dermatitis may affect your lower leg or ankle, resulting in an itchy rash. Left untreated, dermatitis can cause bleeding or skin ulcers (sores) if the skin is scratched or irritated.

According to MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, some people with venous insufficiency develop stasis dermatitis. What happens is that blood pools in the veins of the lower leg. Fluid and blood cells then leak out of the veins into the skin and other tissues.

This may lead to itching, which causes more skin changes over time — some even permanent:

  • Thickening and hardening of the skin on the legs and ankles (lipodermatosclerosis)
  • A bumpy or cobblestone appearance of the skin
  • Dark brown color

Skin sores (ulcers) may develop (called a venous ulcer or stasis ulcer). These most often form on the inside of the ankle. The photograph on this page shows a red to brownish discoloration just above the ankle, known as stasis dermatitis. It results from decreased blood flow.

If you have itchy legs, and you suspect it may not simply be dry skin, call Bunker vein at (512) 726-0599 or request an appointment online for a free screening.

Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep inside a part of the body. It mainly affects the large veins in the lower leg and thigh.

The deep vein is evaluated every time we work a patient up for vein disease. At Bunker Vein & Imaging Center, we offer this evaluation on an emergent basis for those patients with a presentation that suggests an ACUTE clot (thrombus) in their deep vein, often presenting to their physician with complaints of acute onset of pain, swelling, tenderness or redness in the calf area.

These symptoms have usually prompted physicians to send their patients to a local Emergency Room, where the ultimate testing and subsequent interpretation may take several hours. We offer this service to our referring physicians with a turn around time of usually less than an hour.


From MedLine Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health:

DVTs are most common in adults over age 60. However, they can occur at any age. When a clot breaks off and moves through the bloodstream, this is called an embolism. An embolism can get stuck in the brain, lungs, heart, or other area, leading to severe damage.

deep vein thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) affects mainly the veins in the lower leg and the thigh. It involves the formation of a clot (thrombus) in the larger veins of the area.

Blood clots may form when something slows or changes the flow of blood in the veins. Risk factors include:

  • A pacemaker catheter that has been passed through the vein in the groin
  • Bed rest
  • Family history of blood clots
  • Fractures in the pelvis or legs
  • Giving birth within the last 6 months
  • Obesity
  • Recent surgery (most commonly hip, knee, or female pelvic surgery)
  • Too many blood cells being made by the bone marrow, causing the blood to be thicker than normal

Blood is more likely to clot in someone who has certain problems or disorders, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Certain autoimmune disorders, such as lupus
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Conditions in which you are more likely to develop blood clots
  • Taking estrogens or birth control pills (this risk is even higher if you smoke)

Sitting for long periods when traveling can increase the risk of DVTs. This is most likely when you also have one or more of the risk factors listed above.


DVT mainly affects the large veins in the lower leg and thigh, almost always on one side of the body. The clot can block blood flow and cause:

  • Changes in skin color (redness)
  • Leg pain
  • Leg swelling (edema)
  • Skin that feels warm to the touch

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam. The exam may show a red, swollen, or tender leg.

The two tests that are often done first to diagnose a DVT are:

  • D-dimer blood test
  • Doppler ultrasound exam of the legs


If you have symptoms of DVT, call Bunker Vein (512) 726-0599 or contact us online to request an appointment for a free screening.

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have DVT and you develop:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Other severe symptoms
how do i know if i have varicose veins

One of the symptoms of varicose veins: leg veins that appear ropy, bulging, or knotty

Do you suffer from varicose veins, spider veins or other forms of vein disease? If so, you aren’t alone; roughly 80 million American adults have vein problems. Below are the most frequently asked questions about varicose veins and spider veins.


How do I know if I have varicose veins or vein disease?

A common condition among men and women alike, varicose veins have a number of symptoms. And other symptoms may indicate the presence of venous disease. However, it’s important to note that the presence of vein disease can only be determined through specialized ultrasound diagnostics. But here are common symptoms associated with varicose veins and venous disease:


  • Legs that ache, throb or feel generally uncomfortable
  • Leg fatigue when walking more than a short distance
  • A burning or itching sensation in the legs
  • Restless leg syndrome that keeps you awake at night
  • Purple, dark red or blue leg veins easily visible at the skin’s surface
  • Leg veins that appear ropy, bulging or knotty

Unlike varicose veins, spider veins are less likely to cause discomfort. Yet, they can be noticeable and unattractive, causing many people with spider veins to seek treatment.


At what age are varicose veins more likely occur?

Varicose veins can appear at any time throughout adulthood.


What causes varicose veins?

Heredity, pregnancy, weight gain and physical stress all can play a role in venous disease and varicose veins. Standing for long periods of time, such as for certain types of work, can also contribute to venous disease and varicose veins.


varicose veins after treatment

Varicose veins after treatment at Bunker Vein

How are varicose veins, spider veins and other vein problems treated?

Committed to providing leading-edge care individualized for your best outcomes, Bunker Vein and Imaging Center offers a complete range of treatment modalities. Dedicated to doing what’s best and most appropriate for you, Dr. Bunker and his team will evaluate your condition carefully and make a treatment recommendation designed to achieve the best possible result so you can live your life… and show your legs!


When or Why Should I Seek Treatment?

Most people seek treatment because of the discomfort and/or unsightliness of varicose veins. For spider veins, appearance generally is the only motivator. But whatever motivates you to seek care to resolve your vein problem, it’s important to seek it. That’s because varicose and spider veins can be indicative of more serious health problems.

Contact us today to find out about free screenings here in Austin, Texas, to schedule your appointment or for more information. Call Bunker Vein and Imaging Center at (512) 726-0599 today.

varicose vein health tipsIt’s important year-round to live a healthy lifestyle to prevent varicose veins. During Thanksgiving and the holiday seasons, however, when we spend a lot of time sitting, dressing up in uncomfortable high heels or tight clothing, and/or eating rich and salty foods, it’s especially important to be aware of some of the things that might cause or make this medical condition worse.

If you’ve been experiencing leg swelling, itching, restlessness, heaviness, or other discomfort in your legs, contact Bunker Vein to request an appointment for a free screening.

How can I prevent varicose veins and spider veins?

Excerpt from the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Not all varicose and spider veins can be prevented. But, there are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of getting new varicose and spider veins. These same things can help ease discomfort from the ones you already have:

  • Wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun and to limit spider veins on the face.
  • Exercise regularly to improve your leg strength, circulation, and vein strength. Focus on exercises that work your legs, such as walking or running.
  • Control your weight to avoid placing too much pressure on your legs.
  • Don’t cross your legs for long times when sitting. It’s possible to injure your legs that way, and even a minor injury can increase the risk of varicose veins.
  • Elevate your legs when resting as much as possible.
  • Don’t stand or sit for long periods of time. If you must stand for a long time, shift your weight from one leg to the other every few minutes. If you must sit for long periods of time, stand up and move around or take a short walk every 30 minutes.
  • Wear elastic support stockings and avoid tight clothing that constricts your waist, groin, or legs.
  • Avoid wearing high heels for long periods of time. Lower-heeled shoes can help tone your calf muscles to help blood move through your veins.
  • Eat a low-salt diet rich in high-fiber foods. Eating fiber reduces the chances of constipation, which can contribute to varicose veins. High-fiber foods include fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, like bran. Eating less salt can help with the swelling that comes with varicose veins.

Photo Credit: vxla via Compfight cc

Can problems inside our legs be detected and treated before we develop varicose veins?

Dr. Stephen Bunker, featured in the November 2013 issue of Austin Monthly, says:

varicose vein symptomsYes! Swelling, heaviness, itching, burning, pain and cramps may all be indications of venous insufficiency ­­ – improper function of veins responsible for draining stale blood from our legs.

Call Bunker Vein and Imaging Center at (512) 726-0599 for an initial screening, vascular ultrasound examination and consultation with Dr. Bunker, certified by the American Board of Vein and Lymphatic Medicine. You can also request an appointment online.

Venous Insufficiency

Excerpt from VascularWeb, provided by the Society for Vascular Surgery

Arteries bring oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body and veins return oxygen-poor blood back to your heart. When your leg veins cannot pump enough blood back to your heart, you have chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).

When you are in the upright position, the blood in your leg veins must go against gravity to return to your heart. To accomplish this, your leg muscles squeeze the deep veins of your legs and feet to help move blood back to your heart. When you walk and your leg muscles squeeze, the venous pump works well. But when you sit or stand, especially for a long time, the blood in your leg veins can pool and increase the venous blood pressure. Over time, in susceptible individuals, this can weaken the walls of the veins and damage the vein valves, causing CVI.

Did you know that varicose veins is one of the underlying medical conditions for restless leg syndrome (RLS)? Typical movements are: pacing and walking, jiggling the legs, stretching and flexing, tossing and turning, and rubbing the legs.

Signs you have RLS:

  • strong urge to move your legs
  • symptoms that start or get worse when you’re inactive
  • relief from moving
  • symptoms that start or get worse in the evening or at night

restless leg syndrome treatmentsExcerpt from WebMd.com:

Treatment for secondary restless legs syndrome (RLS caused by another medical problem) involves treating the underlying cause. The first line of defense against restless legs syndrome is to avoid substances or foods that may be causing or worsening the problem. Stay away from alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. This may partly relieve your symptoms. In addition, review all medications you are taking with your doctor to determine if any of these drugs could be causing the problem.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Any underlying medical conditions, such as anemia, diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, kidney disease, thyroid disease, varicose veins, or Parkinson’s disease, should be treated. Dietary supplements to correct vitamin or mineral deficiency may be recommended. For some people, these treatments are all that is needed to relieve RLS symptoms.

To request an appointment for a free screening at Bunker Veins, call (512) 726-0599 or contact us online.

You may also benefit from physical therapy and self-care treatments, such as stretching, taking hot or cold baths, whirlpool baths, applying hot or cold packs to the affected area, limb massage, or vibratory or electrical stimulation of the feet and toes before bedtime. Exercise and relaxation techniques also may be helpful.

Click here to read the rest of the article on WebMD.

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