Physical examination and medical history for varicose veins

A physical examination and medical history usually provide most of the information needed to diagnose varicose veins.

  • The medical history will include questions about any vein problems, serious leg injuries, or leg ulcers you have had in the past, as well as any other risk factors you might have, including whether your family has a history of varicose veins. Talk to your doctor about any symptoms you are having (such as swelling, fatigue, or cramps in your legs) and what you have been doing to treat your symptoms, if anything.
  • During the physical exam, the doctor will examine your legs and feet (or any other affected areas) for varicose veins. They are usually easy to see. The doctor will also check your legs for tender areas, swelling, skin color changes, ulcers, and other signs of skin breakdown. To study the blood flow in your legs, the doctor may ask you to move your legs around in different positions.

Varicose veins are most often diagnosed by how the veins look when the person is standing. For most people with varicose veins, a physical exam (with medical history) is all the doctor needs to diagnose the problem.

The results of your medical history and physical exam may also suggest that an underlying cause is present or that your deep vein system may be damaged. The results can help the doctor decide whether you need additional tests.

Last Updated: February 5, 2010

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