What are Varicose Veins?
It can happen faster than you think. One moment you are fine, and then the next you notice a sudden change where you see the veins in your legs are noticeably blue, twisted, and bulging just beneath the skin. These disfigured veins are varicose veins. In most cases, varicose veins are superficial and harmless; however, even though unlikely it is possible for your deeper veins to become varicose. They’re mainly caused by damage to the affected veins or increase in pressure on the legs due to pregnancy, obesity, and jobs that require you to stand for long periods of time. In normal leg veins, blood is pushed up to the heart by surrounding muscles through a series of one-way valves. Working against, gravity these valves in the veins open to move blood up the legs, and close preventing backflow. Damaged veins from an injury, or increased pressure on the legs, prevent the valves from working correctly, allowing for backflow of the blood and disfigurement of the veins.
Not everyone who suffers from varicose veins is aware that they even have them making it important to learn the signs and symptoms that you may have this condition.
The most common signs you should look out for are:
- Distinct veins that are blue or purple in color
- Veins that are bulging
- Veins that appear to be twisted
In most cases, varicose veins don’t hurt, and they can be relatively harmless, so you may not notice them right away. If you are experiencing leg pain, then it is advisable to check to see if varicose veins could be the cause. This condition can cause the following painful symptoms:
- Muscle cramps
- Throbbing, swelling, or burning sensation in your legs
- Worsening pain when standing or sitting for long periods of time
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor to discuss the cause, and severity, of your varicose veins. Depending on the severity, there are a few treatment options available to you. On the other hand, if you are not experiencing any symptoms, but believe you are at risk for developing varicose veins know that there are ways to minimize your risk to prevent varicose veins.
Knowing Your Treatment Options
Once you have varicose veins, there are a few ways to treat them,minimizing the chance that they worsen causing serious complications. The first form of treatments for varicose veins are simple as they mainly involve lifestyle changes.
For most cases, the best treatment is:
- Exercise: aerobic exercises are good ways to treat varicose veins as aerobic exercises improve cardiovascular fitness. They also build muscle strength, strengthening the leg muscles, making them better able to move blood through the veins.
- Weight Loss: it can reduce the pressure on your legs. Starting slow, adjust your diet to where you are consuming a balanced amount of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat and avoid sugary drinks. By changing your diet to be healthier, it will be easier to lose weight gained by unhealthy eating habits.
- Compression Stockings: They reduce the pressure on the legs and create better support for the veins in the legs. Compression stockings can either be bought at a pharmacy or prescribed by your physician.
- Sclerotherapy: An outpatient procedure used in severe cases of varicose veins. This procedure can be performed right in your doctor’s office where they inject the varicose vein with a foam that seals the vein causing the varicose vein to fade and decrease in size.
These treatments have all proven to be an effective way to treat varicose veins, especially sclerotherapy. The success of this last treatment option has led to clinical trials for varicose veins where new, fast-acting, effective foams are being created for future use in treatment. Life with varicose veins doesn’t have to be hard or scary. There are simple ways to prevent them, just as there are simple ways to treat them once you have varicose veins. There are advancements still being made in treating varicose veins that are promising for the future, especially if your varicose veins are causing you pain. The first step, however, is realizing you have varicose veins and talking with your doctor about the symptoms you have to discuss the cause, and treatment, for varicose veins.