How To Help Varicose Veins: It’s an incredibly common problem. According to the American Society for Vascular Surgery, about 20 to 25 million Americans suffer from varicose veins. The majority of sufferers being women – mainly due to hormonal and gender-specific factors.
We all know what they are like – bulging, lumpy and distorted veins that are blue or purplish in color running beneath the skin surface. Even though they are considered harmless, varicose veins can be disfiguring and painful. When inflamed the condition worsens, veins become tender and hinder circulation thus causing pain, discomfort, itchy skin, aching limbs and swollen ankles.
There’s actually three different types of varicose veins:
- Trunk Veins: These are the ones we typically recognise. The thick and knobbly veins on the surface of the skin.
- Reticular Veins: These are red or blue in colour and sometimes in a network but don’t bulge out like the trunk veins.
- Telangiectasia Veins: These are what we also know as thread or spider veins. Groups of blue or red veins that appear in networks likening to spider webs. They don’t hurt or bulge but they are prone to appearing on the face as well as the usual legs.
So, just what are the causes, symptoms and how to help varicose veins … read on!
What Causes Varicose Veins
Your veins may be tiny but each one is part of a series of one way valves that allow blood flow in one direction only. They are there to pump blood back to the heart and to prevent it from flowing backwards. It’s when these valves weaken and cease to work properly that blood can leak, flow backwards and collect in the veins. The result causes them to become swollen and enlarged … varicose veins!
In essence, any condition that exerts pressure on the abdomen or legs can cause varicose veins. The most common inducers of pressure include
Carrying extra weight increases the pressure in the veins
As people age, their veins weaken as well as their valves. So, basically, the older we get the greater the chance of the valves going wrong
Pregnancy results in increased weight, increased levels of blood (to provide nutrition for the unborn baby) and increased hormones which have an effect of weakening the walls of the veins.
Standing For Long Periods
Standing still for long periods hinders the efficient flow of blood.
A lack of exercise puts individuals at a higher risk of varicose compared to active lifestyle. This is simply because the muscles weaken and provide reduced support to the blood pumping action.
These are just the most common causes to be aware of. Other factors such as certain medical conditions, previous leg injuries, genetics, and gender can also contribute to varicose veins.
Varicose Veins Symptoms
Obviously, the main symptoms of varicose veins are the appearance of swollen, lumpy, bulbous, twisted, purple or bluish veins beneath the surface of the skin. Typically they will appear on the legs and feet (the areas of greatest pressure in the veins and where they hay to work hardest) although they can strike anywhere.
There are other symptoms that may signal a developing or existing varicose veins condition that you should also be aware of when considering how to help varicose veins:
Heaviness, Burning Or Dull Aching In The Legs
It is normal for your legs to get tired and ache from time to time. This is usually experienced when you stand or sit for long periods. The pain however does not last long. People who spend much of their time standing or sitting due to the nature of their jobs are likely to experience painful, achy and heavy legs for an extended period of time leading to a condition known as tired, aching leg syndrome.
As varicose veins symptoms, heavy and painful legs affect men and women equally and increase with age. According to research, about 50 percent of women aged 45 and above are said to be suffering from tired and aching legs. Out of these, 70 percent are estimated to experience severe pain which affects their daily lives.
Aching and tired legs are associated with poor circulation. The leg muscles lose their contracting capacity hence unable to push blood back to the heart. This causes the blood to pool in the leg veins causing a feeling of tension and heaviness as well as aching.
People suffering from varicose usually experience swollen feet and ankles. This is as a result of your body holding more fluid than usual. In pregnant women and the obese, the increased body weight puts undue pressure on the blood vessels particularly the inferior vena cava which is responsible for receiving blood coming from the lower limbs. This pressure consequently slows down the rate of blood circulation and causes pooling of blood in the veins located at the lower limbs hence the swelling of ankles and feet.
Also, the pressure coming from the trapped blood forces water out through the capillaries into the feet and ankle tissue. This water is normally taken up by the body but because of the extra weight of pregnancy or obesity, the body becomes overwhelmed and this water adds to the swelling.
Dry, Thin, Itching Skin Around The Varicose Vein
The stagnation of blood along the venous system usually cause inflammation which comes with itching. It should be noted that on their own, itching varicose veins may not qualify to signal a varicose condition. However, when considered together with other related symptoms, it may be a helpful clue.
Discomfort And Muscle Cramps
These varicose veins symptoms can cause sufferers to feel an uncomfortable sensation in their lower legs and an irresistible urge to move their legs so as to relieve the sensation. The sensations which are more or less like pins and needles become worse when the person is at rest or sitting. The condition improves when you start moving your legs or walking.
Impeded blood flow can result in leg cramps – usually when you are relaxed and often at night.
This is not an exhaustive list, there are other, less common, symptoms to be aware of such as Superficial Thrombophlebitis (when inflammation and a blood clot develop in small veins close to the surface of the skin), ulcerations and bleeding following a minor injury.
Very often you’ll find that the symptoms are worse when the weather is hot or after you’ve been on your feet for long periods of time.
Varicose Veins Diagnosis
Varicose veins diagnosis may occasionally point towards deeper seated problems so, we suggest that you always get a check up from a professional. Especially if your varicose veins result in any form of discomfort, pain, soreness or irritation. Or if your sleep is disrupted by aching or irritation when lying down in bed.
Don’t get us wrong though – we don’t wish to alarm anyone as varicose veins usually represent no real issue. Yes they can be unsightly but generally they represent nothing too much to worry about. Get them checked out though – if only for peace of mind.
A varicose veins diagnosis can typically take the following format:
The practitioner first enquires about the medical history of the affected individual to be able to see whether there are any links to past medical conditions such as traumas or injuries which may have contributed to varicose veins. This information is important and the sufferer must give it in its completeness.
Apart from the medical history, physical examination is done to establish the existence and assess the extent of progression of the problem. Visible signs such as skin ulcerations help the practitioner to make objective conclusions and give the way forward. Physical examination may also include checking of the BMI for cases of excess weight.
This is a vascular procedure which is done to assess the structure of the leg veins and blood flow. Duplex is so called because two modes of ultrasound are employed; Doppler and B-mode. The Doppler probe evaluates the direction and velocity of blood flow in the veins. Alternatively, the B-mode transducer looks like a microphone and helps in obtaining an image of the vein under study.
This is also referred to as triplex ultrasound. It is similar to duplex ultrasound in procedure but uses color to highlight the direction of the flow of blood. The blood vessels are colored red or blue depending in the direction in which the blood is flowing. There is also a color scale which reflects the speed of the blood flow.
Magnetic Resonance Venography.
This is a procedure which uses radio frequencies, a large magnet and a computer to produce images of structures and organs in the body. To visualise the veins, the system uses intravenous contrast dye and magnetic resonance technology. The contrast dye makes the blood vessels appear opaque on x-ray images therefore allowing the doctor to see the affected vessels clearly.
How To Help Varicose Veins
How to help varicose veins and ease the symptoms? The five golden rules are:
- Don’t sit or stand for long periods of time. Take regular breaks and walk around.
- Elevate your legs when lying down or resting to reduce the pressure in the leg veins and give them a rest too!
- Exercise! Nothing too drastic, just regular walking or swimming really helps
- Weight. Excess weight means more pressure on the veins so keep your weight down
- Diet. A healthy diet helps keep weight off and keeps everything healthy and working well.
When it comes to the treatment of varicose veins … these vary and depend on a number of factors which include:
- Your medical history, age, and overall health
- The extent and progression of your varicose veins problem
- The nature of your signs and symptoms
- Your preference or opinion
In cases where there are no symptoms or discomfort, treatment may not be necessary.
Among the effective and accessible treatment options are:
These stockings help in relieving the pain caused by the symptoms while at the same time slowing the progress of varicose veins by improving the venous blood circulation.
In this procedure heat is used to seal off the affected veins which forces the blood returning to the hear to find an alternative route.
This is a procedure where a chemical or saline solution is injected into the affected vein. This solution causes the vein to harden and prevents it filling with blood. Again, the returning blood automatically finds another way. The injected vein then ultimately shrivels and disappears.
Ligation Or Stripping
In these cases the affected veins are sealed off and then actually and physically removed from the body completely.
Other than these treatment methods, options include laser treatment, small incision avulsion and trans-illuminated powered phlebectomy. Read more here >>>.
Varicose Vein Creams
These are naturally formulated topical creams that bring together a rich combination of botanical compounds. An effective varicose vein cream is capable of arresting, reversing and completely eliminating the varicose vein problem. Some of the common ingredients used in these creams include Aloe Vera, Vitamin A, E and K, Cyclotetrasiloxane, Isopropyl Myristate and Potassium Cetyl Phosphate among many others.
There are a number of these creams on the market today – one of the newest editions being Venorex. Venorex is a professional strength treatment cream for varicose veins that is really effective against all the symptoms.
CLICK HERE to learn more about this amazing product.