Most often, the term “varicose veins or varicosities” are used to describe enlarged veins along the legs. However, this condition can also occur elsewhere in the body. By strict definition, varicose vein is a term used to refer to veins that enlarge and become inflamed. One site is the rectal region. Veins along this region enlarge, become twisted and inflamed. These are called hemorrhoids.

How varicose veins form

Varicose veins are formed when there is ineffective blood circulation. That is, blood does not move along the veins in an efficient manner, which results in blood pooling. The accumulated blood within the veins puts pressure on the valves and walls of the veins. The valves along the veins relax and the veins become distended. This would allow more blood to pool within the veins. The walls will soon give out because of the constant pressure. The walls of the veins are naturally less elastic than those of the arteries, which means veins are less able to accommodate much pressure. This makes them more prone to become distended.

How hemorrhoids are formed
Varicosities in the rectal and anal region are formed pretty much like how varicose veins form elsewhere in the body. That is, the terminal veins in these areas lose their elasticity, becoming distended and often painful.

Veins in the terminal portion of the intestinal tract (i.e., rectal and anal regions) are the ones affected. The primary function of these veins is to help produce a tight seal in the terminal area of the intestines. That is, it forms a blood-filled cushion to temporarily close the anal opening. This way, gas and fecal matter do not leak out. To create an effective seal, the veins occur in a double row. The upper, higher row is referred to as the external hemorrhoidal veins. The inner row is called the external hemorrhoidal veins. The internal hemorrhoidal veins are located at the end of the rectum. The external hemorrhoidal veins are located at the anal region.

Constant pressure on these veins contributes to the formation of hemorrhoids. The veins become engorged with blood and the walls weaken. Pressure can come from different sources. It can come from straining during defecation. Years of consistently straining can eventually the walls of the rectal and anal veins. Also, irregular bowel movements can be a source of pressure. That is, feces that stay within the lower bowels for too long can put tremendous weight on the veins, causing them to become inflamed and distended. Another possible cause is hormones. Sometimes, hormonal imbalance in the body can cause bowels to harden, making it difficult to pass through the intestinal tract. As the hard fecal matter passes through the lower intestinal tract, it puts pressure on the walls and can cause varicose veins. Also, pregnancy can be a source of pressure. As the fetus grows within the uterus, it puts constant pressure on adjacent tissues, including the rectal and anal tissue. The pressure can weaken the walls on the veins in these regions, causing them to form into hemorrhoids.

Basically, varicose veins are any distention of the venous walls anywhere in the body. The term has come to mean torturous veins in the legs. However, this term can also be used to describe the distended rectal and anal veins. In fact, hemorrhoids used to be called varicose veins of the rectum and anus.

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