Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged or stretched out due to blood that pools in the legs. In addition to making your veins bulge, they can cause symptoms like Tired, Achy Legs, Itching, Burning, Numbness, Nighttime Leg Cramps, Restless Leg Syndrome, Rashes, Swelling and Ulcers or Sores.

Since varicose veins are primarily caused by inactivity in the legs over a long period of time, getting out there and doing some exercises can help prevent and alleviate the symptoms associated with varicose veins.

Varicose veins cause a great deal of morbidity in our population today. They are part of the penalty we pay for the adoption of the erect posture. They affect 10–20% of population in the Western world but in India, it is 5%. Varicose veins do not threaten life and are seldom disabling, but they cause a considerable demand on medical care. They are the cause of morbidity and loss of precious work hours and a significant financial burden on the health-care system.

Self diagnosis – Clinical presentation includes lower extremity pain, fatigue, itching and/or heaviness, which often worsen with prolonged standing, associated with dilated tortuous veins.

How does Varicose Veins affect your body?

Veins have the job of taking blood back to the heart. Blood moves from the superficial veins (found just under the skin) through perforator veins to the deep veins in the leg muscles. Because the leg veins are working against gravity, they have one-way valves inside them to prevent the backflow of blood. Your leg muscles also help blood to flow the right way – when they are used, as in walking, they act as a pump, sending the blood in the veins up to the heart.

If the walls of leg veins lose their elasticity and weaken, the valves can stop functioning properly. This means that blood can flow backwards and pool in the veins, causing them to swell and become varicose. Varicose veins usually affect the superficial leg veins (the veins just under the skin).

What are the Causes of Varicose Veins?

The exact cause of varicose veins is not known. However, there seems to be a genetic link, meaning you are more likely to have them if one of your parents was affected.

It’s also thought that female sex hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) can sometimes play a part in veins becoming dilated (widened).

Read more: Peptic ulcer Causes

What are the Risk Factors of Varicose Veins?

Common risk factors of developing varicose veins include:

  • Increasing age
  • Pregnancy
  • Family history of varicose veins
  • Being overweight
  • Being female
  • Standing still or sitting for long periods of time.
Know more: Measles Risk Factors | Tear of miniscus Risk Factors

What are the symptoms of Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins appear as visible blue or purple veins under the skin or twisted, swollen veins that are like cords on the legs. Initially, varicose veins are usually painless, but over time they can cause symptoms and signs such as:

  • Aching pain or heaviness in the legs, especially when standing and walking
  • Cramps in the legs, most often at night
  • Tired legs
  • Mild swelling of the legs, ankles and feet
  • Discoloured skin in the area around the varicose veins
  • An itchy rash (varicose eczema)
  • Burning of the skin over the veins
  • Restless legs
Also read: Migraine Symptoms | Traveller’s Dysentry Symptoms

How is Varicose Veins Diagnosed?

Physical examination – To diagnose varicose veins, your doctor will do a physical exam, including looking at your legs while you’re standing to check for swelling. Your doctor may also ask you to describe any pain and aching in your legs.

Ultrasound – You also may need an ultrasound test to see if the valves in your veins are functioning normally or if there’s any evidence of a blood clot. In this noninvasive test, a technician runs a small hand-held device (transducer), about the size of a bar of soap, against your skin over the area of your body being examined. The transducer transmits images of the veins in your legs to a monitor, so a technician and your doctor can see them.

Read more: Mastocytosis Diagnosis | Mediterranean anemia Diagnosis 

How to Prevent & Control Varicose Veins?

  • Avoid prolonged standing or sitting
  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Putting your legs up when you are sitting may also be a good idea.

Treatment of Varicose Veins Allopathic Treatment

As such there is no medicine to cure varicose veins, following methods are used to alleviate symptoms :

  • Compression stockings – Wearing elasticised compression stockings is often suggested by doctors as the initial treatment for varicose veins. These stockings create gentle pressure up the leg to prevent blood from pooling in the veins. They can help with leg pain and swelling.
  • Endovenous thermal ablation – This treatment involves destroying varicose veins using endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) or radiofrequency ablation (RFA). It involves inserting a catheter (a very thin, hollow tube) into the varicose veins, under ultrasound guidance to make sure it is in the right place. Radiofrequency or laser energy is then applied via the tip of the catheter along the inside of the vein, heating it up and causing the walls to collapse and close together. The vein is replaced by scar tissue and eventually removed by the body.
  • Injection sclerotherapy – Sclerotherapy is a form of treatment that involves injecting varicose veins with a chemical solution that irritates and scars the vessel walls, making them stick together. This blocks off the veins, which are replaced by scar tissue and then removed by the body’s immune system.
  • Surgery – Surgery for varicose veins can be very effective and usually leaves little in the way of scars.  Ambulatory phlebectomy is usually used for small veins that are close to the skin surface. It involves removing varicose veins in the lower leg through a series of tiny skin punctures. Vein stripping and ligation is where longer veins are tied shut and removed through small cuts in the skin. This type of surgery is usually used to treat more severe cases of varicose veins.

Treatment of Varicose Veins Homoeopathic Treatment 

  • Hamamelis Virginiana – for Varicose Veins with Tiredness/Aching in Legs
  • Pulsatilla Nigricans – for Varicose Veins that are Painful
  • Calcarea Fluor – for Hard, Knotty Varicose Veins
  • Calcarea Carb – for Painless Varicose Veins
  • Fluoric Acid – for Varicose Veins worsened by Warmth
  • Apis Mellifica – for Varicose Veins with Stinging Pains
  • Graphites Naturalis – for Varicose Veins with Itching
  • Vipera Berus – for Varicose Veins with Bursting Sensation in Legs
  • Millefolium Achillea – for Varicose Veins during Pregnancy
  • Lachesis Muta -for Varicose Ulcers
  • Zincum Met – for Varicose Veins that are Very Large
  • Arsenic Album – for Varicose Veins that are Inflamed
  • Arnica Montana – for Varicose Veins with Soreness
Know more: Myositis Treatment | White Plague Treatment

Varicose Veins – Lifestyle Tips

  • Regular exercise that improves the muscle tone in your legs
  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • avoid clothes that are tight around the legs, groin and waist
  • Keep your legs elevated when you are sitting
  • Avoid standing still for prolonged periods

What are Recommended Exercises for Person with Varicose Veins?

  • Walking or Running – Walking just 30 minutes a day for five days a week can yield good benefits. If you run, try to find a grassy surface or synthetic track to minimize the stress on your joints.
  • Leg Lifts – Sit or lie on your back while sticking your feet straight out. Lift one leg at a time up, holding it in the air. Slowly lower it down and repeat with the other leg.
  • Bicycling or Bicycle Legs – Riding a bike or stationary bike is also helpful. If you don’t have access to any kind of bike, you can try this bicycle legs exercise. While lying on your back, put your legs in the air, bending them at the knee. Pedal them slowly as if you are bicycling. Try both legs at once, or alternate one at a time.
  • Lunges – Stand with your legs apart. Step forward slowly, bending your knee and making sure to keep your knee directly above your ankle. Hold it, then slowly straighten your leg and step back to your original position. Repeat with the other leg. While standing with your legs straight, rise up on your tiptoes and then lower back down. Repeat.
  • Rocking Your Feet – While you’re sitting or standing, rock your feet back and forth from heel to toe. This can be done at any time and is also helpful if health conditions prevent you from trying other forms of exercise.

Varicose Veins & Pregnancy – Things to know

Varicose veins may itch or ache, but they’re unlikely to put either you or your baby at any risk.

If you didn’t have varicose veins before you got pregnant, your varicose veins will shrink or disappear altogether within a few months after you give birth.

If your varicose veins don’t go away after the baby has arrived, you can think about having them medically treated or surgically removed then, just not during pregnancy.

Common Complications Related to Varicose Veins

  • Ulcers – Extremely painful ulcers may form on the skin near varicose veins, particularly near the ankles. Ulcers are caused by long-term fluid buildup in these tissues, caused by increased pressure of blood within affected veins. A discolored spot on the skin usually begins before an ulcer forms. See your doctor immediately if you suspect you’ve developed an ulcer.
  • Blood clots – Occasionally, veins deep within the legs become enlarged. In such cases, the affected leg may swell considerably. Any sudden leg swelling warrants urgent medical attention because it may indicate a blood clot — a condition known medically as thrombophlebitis.
  • Bleeding – Occasionally, veins very close to the skin may burst. This usually causes only minor bleeding. But, any bleeding warrants medical attention because there’s a high risk it can happen again.

Other FAQs about Varicose Veins

Is walking good for varicose veins?

Walking is especially good for people who suffer from varicose veins, due to the fact that walking is a very low-impact workout. There is no jarring or pounding of your legs — just a simple movement that helps strengthen your calf muscles without straining your body.

How can I stop varicose veins getting worse?

These things can help ease discomfort from the ones you already have:

  • Wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun and to limit spider veins on the face.
  • Exercise regularly to improve your leg strength, circulation, and vein strength. …
  • Control your weight to avoid placing too much pressure on your legs.

Will varicose veins go away with weight loss?

Weight loss can prevent already existing varicose veins from worsening in appearance, but it cannot reverse their presence. In fact, as you lose weight, underlying varicose veins may become more noticeable

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