Nothing will replace a proper examination by a doctor and specialist tests. However, it is important to have some simple tests to check whether you might have a medical problem.
The Daily Mail has published an article “10 DIY medical tests you can do right now“.
One of these tests was submitted by Prof Mark Whiteley of The Whiteley Clinic. It is called the “ankle colour test for varicose veins”.
Prof Whiteley explains that there are several reasons that this test is very useful.
The first is that in advanced varicose vein disease when the legs are heading towards venous leg ulcers, the ankles tend to become discoloured. They may be a deeper red, have eczema, or even have brown patches (which is called haemosiderin) – see Skin Damage due to Varicose Veins.
This can happen whether you have varicose veins that you can see on the legs (in 50% of patients) or even if you do not know you’ve got varicose veins (the other 50% of patients). It is amazing that half the patients who have varicose veins cannot see them on the surface. These are called “hidden varicose veins”.
Even though you cannot see these hidden varicose veins, they still go on to cause inflammation at the ankle. If left untreated, can end up with ankle swelling, red and brown stains around the ankles and even venous leg ulcers.
In the past, doctors and nurses used to recommend support stockings or even steroids for skin changes. That is now shown to be completely wrong and these patients should have their veins treated. By the NICE clinical guidelines, patients with varicose veins (even hidden varicose veins) and any symptoms or skin discolouration need to see a specialist – see NICE Guidelines on Varicose Veins.
The second is that in even early vein disease, ankles can look the same when the legs are elevated and the venous blood drains from them. However, when the legs are put down, blood runs down the varicose veins or hidden varicose veins causing the affected ankle or ankles to go red quickly.
If the test shows discolouration at one or both ankles, the first thing to do is to have a venous duplex ultrasound scan. This will show which of the veins has lost its valves and is causing the varicose veins or hidden varicose veins.
Once this has been done, specialist venous surgeons such as those at the The Whiteley Clinic can select the optimal treatments to treat the underlying problem. Using The Whiteley Protocol, all of our doctors can ensure that our patients get the optimal treatment with the lowest possible risk of recurrence.
You can also use our Free Online Varicose Vein Screening tool.
If you have any questions or want to book a duplex scan, please contact us