There is a lot going on inside your legs, with bones, muscles, nerves, lymph system, arteries and veins all working together to make things work. Although the combination is complex, it is basically the same in everyone, and a physician can pinpoint problems and help you decide what steps to take to solve them.
Arteries carry oxygenated blood through the body. The veins are the vessels that transport the blood back to the heart and lungs for more oxygen.
The leg’s veins comprise two basic types: deep and superficial.
Deep veins in the leg connect directly to major veins that travel through the pelvis and drain some of the major organs. Starting at the lowest point, the tibial vein brings blood from the foot and ankle. The tibial vein moves up to join the popliteal veins just below the knee and then joins the femoral vein above the knee, from where it travels into the abdomen.
Two superficial veins, the great and lesser saphenous veins, are closer to the surface. The great saphenous vein runs from the foot to the groin along the inside of the leg. The lesser saphenous vein also runs from the foot but joins the popliteal vein at the knee.
Superficial veins are the ones that show visible signs of varicose veins: discoloration and enlargement. The deep veins can develop varicosities too. Blood clots that develop in the deep veins are the most dangerous because they are more difficult to detect and sometimes travel to the heart and lungs.
You don’t have to be an expert on veins; a vein specialist can do that for you. Your job is to pay attention to your legs – the way they look and feel – and visit your doctor when you have a question about their health.