Varicose Veins: Pain, Swelling & Managing Your Symptoms
Have you noticed your leg veins starting to swell and bulge? Do they ache and feel heavy sometimes? These are just among the tell-tale signs of varicose veins.
Medically speaking, varicose veins are the twisted and bulging veins that appear on your legs due to poor blood circulation.
With around 30% of Americans living with varicose veins, this vascular condition has become very common, particularly among women.
What’s Causing Your Varicose Veins?
Oxygenated blood from the lungs passes through your arteries and delivers oxygen and nutrients to different parts of your body. Then your veins will be responsible to propel the blood back to your heart.
Vein function relies on a network of one-way valves. To prevent backflow, cup-like valves alternately open to get the blood to flow towards the heart.
As we age, our veins can lose elasticity and stretch. This causes the valves within our veins to become weak and allow blood (which should be moving toward our heart) to pool in our veins.
When this happens, the vein becomes varicose and appears enlarged, gnarled, and either blue or purple.
Varicose veins can happen to anyone at any age.
You may be at a greater risk of varicose veins if you:
- Have someone in your family has had varicose veins
- Work in a job that requires you to stand or sit for long periods
- Are overweight or obese
- Are pregnant
- Are a woman
- 50 years old and above
- Had previous injuries in your leg
If any of these risk factors apply to you, it’s recommended to check your leg for early signs and symptoms to prevent varicose veins from getting worse.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
While the appearance of varicose veins may cause you to become self-conscious, at most they only show up as discolored veins in your legs.
In fact, thinner types of varicose veins (also called spider veins) usually don’t cause any alarming symptoms.
However, some people with varicose veins experience a number of additional symptoms, including:
- Mild swelling of the ankles and feet
- Painful, achy, or “heavy” legs
- Throbbing or cramping in the leg
- Feeling itchy, especially on the lower leg and ankle
- Discolored skin around the varicose vein
Are Varicose Veins Dangerous?
Many people with varicose veins often just complain about the way it looks. In particular, spider veins (smaller-sized varicose veins) are not a cause of concern.
However, when your varicose veins present debilitating symptoms, it may be wise to get it checked by your doctor.
Although most varicose and spider veins are generally considered a benign condition, they can, in some cases, signify more serious circulatory issues.
Because of this, it’s important to work with your doctor to understand the root cause of the condition.
When left untreated, symptomatic varicose veins may lead to serious complications like rashes, sores, infections, and blood clots.
If you are experiencing leg pain, cramps, swelling in the ankles, or leg fatigue, we advise you to visit a vein clinic to assess and help you manage your varicose veins.
Managing Varicose Veins Symptoms
If you’re experiencing pain and swelling due to varicose veins, some lifestyle changes and at-home remedies may help.
Follow these simple tips and techniques to relieve varicose vein pain and swelling.
Stretch Your Legs and Exercise
With leg pains, you may not even be motivated to move and workout at all. However, simple leg stretches and light movements can help improve and stimulate blood flow.
Opt for easy low-impact workouts with stretches before and after your workouts.
Elevate Your Legs
When sitting, resting, or sleeping, we recommend elevating your legs above your heart.
Doing so will help improve blood circulation and get your venous valves working more efficiently.
This technique often reduces swelling of the vein and relieves pain right away.
Take Cold Baths or Showers
In cold temperatures, your blood vessels shrink. For those with varicose veins, showering or bathing with cold water can help alleviate leg pain and swelling.
Conversely, we don’t advise people with varicose veins to take hot baths or showers as this may worsen leg fatigue and leg cramps.
Avoid Sitting or Standing For a Long Time
Get the blood flowing in your legs by breaking long periods of standing or sitting. When sitting, it’s also best to avoid crossing your legs.
Avoid Wearing High Heels or Clothes That Are Too Tight Around Your Legs
High heels and pants that are too tight can increase blood pressure in your legs and restrict blood flow.
Wearing such will only worsen your symptoms. Instead, choose low-heeled shoes and comfortable bottoms.
Wear Compression Stockings or Socks
Alternatively, you can also provide relief to your painful and swelling varicose veins by wearing compression stockings or socks.
Bandages, support stockings, or intermittent pneumatic compression devices improve blood circulation in your calves and thighs and relieve leg pain and fatigue.
When To See a Doctor for Varicose Veins
If the pain and/or swelling caused by varicose veins becomes severe, or you’d like to simply eliminate the appearance of varicose veins, there are a number of surgical options available.
Most of these treatment plans are performed in an out-patient setting and require minimal recovery time.
Looking for ways to reduce the pain and swelling of your veins? Find out more about how we can help!
Visit us at vispdocs.com, or call 928.771.8477 for more information.
Vascular & Interventional Specialists of Prescott was formed in 2010 by a group of subspecialty radiologists that perform numerous minimally-invasive, low-risk procedures using the tools of our trade for guidance—x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI. The team’s goal is to educate patients and medical communities, while also providing safe and compassionate health care, with rapid recovery times and low risk of complications.