Do you often experience unrelenting pain in your legs? Perhaps an achy feeling or restlessness that won’t go away? You probably assume, “I’ve had a long day. I just need a moment to sit down and put my feet up, and then I will feel better.” You probably don’t think anything is out of the ordinary, but these are all common symptoms of venous insufficiency, or varicose veins.
Unfortunately, up to 40% of people suffer from varicose veins, but many don’t even know it! Varicose veins are often ignored or misunderstood, even by healthcare providers. Fortunately, if you suspect that you are indeed suffering from varicose veins, you have many treatment options available today.
Normal circulation involves blood carrying oxygen being pumped from the heart into the tissues via arteries and then returning de-oxygenated blood carrying other waste products from the tissues back to the heart through the veins. Your arteries might be in good health but if your veins are not working properly and leaking back into the tissues due to varicose veins then in the long term tissue damage to your lower legs can occur leaving you at risk of varicose leg ulcers later in life.
Walking compresses the deep veins in the leg muscles and this pumps the blood out of the legs. This is the most important mechanism to improve clearance of venous blood out of the legs. If you sit on an airplane for a long flight you might be aware of some ankle swelling because you haven’t been walking.
People with venous disease will often find relief from their swollen feet and ankles and alleviation of tired and aching legs by elevating their legs at the end of the day.
There are many and varied medications and devices marketed as circulation boosters. Medical Graduated Compression Stockings have Evidence Based Medicine to support their use to improve leg vein circulation and improve leg vein health.
But these methods only provide temporary relief and do not prevent tissue damage from occurring in the long term. An Ultrasound investigation can establish if your aching or swollen legs are caused by poor venous circulation.
Do you have?
The aching in your legs is dull and throbbing, constant, and worsens as the day wears on. Your legs sometimes feel hot, itchy, or prickly. You massage your legs at night to make the aching go away. Unlike those with bulging varicose veins, many people have nothing on the surface that suggests veins could be causing the pain.
At the end of the day, it takes all you have to keep standing. If you sit through a movie, your legs feel like stone. You can’t wait to get home and prop your legs up. You think “My legs are tired because I’ve had a long day” or “I’m just getting older and can’t be as active”.
Cramps annoy you during the day, but are even more frustrating when they wake you up at night. You have to stretch your legs or walk around to get relief.
When you get in bed at night, you just can’t seem to get comfortable. You’ve tried propping a pillow between your legs. Instead of resting, you spend the night moving your legs around. Or you’re constantly wiggling on that long flight or car ride. You can’t put your finger on it, but your legs are just uncomfortable.
At the end of the day, your legs swell and you notice a loss of definition in your ankles. When you take your socks off, they leave a line in your skin. It seems to go away when you wake up in the morning.
You’ve noticed that the skin on your lower legs or around your ankles is darker than the rest; it’s taken on a brown or reddish color. The skin feels harder in this area and it may be flaky or itchy.
Your skin has broken down in one or more areas, and you see an open wound. This is a sign of advanced disease, and should be addressed as soon as possible.
Did you know that over 40% of people suffer from vein issues and summer heat makes these worse? Protect your vein health and avoid swelling and discomfort that summer heat can cause.
High summer temperatures can cause your veins to dilate, increasing swelling and discomfort. Many patients report increased skin sensitivity in the summer months with itching, tenderness and rashes.
Vein disorders have many potential causes, some are beyond our control, such as age and heredity. If you are over 50, your risk of having vein disease is 10 times greater than when you are 25. If your mother or father had vein problems, you have an increased risk.
Gender also plays a role, with women’s hormones contributing to higher rates of venous disease. Multiple pregnancies place a significant stress on a woman’s veins. Women with 2 or more pregnancies have greater than a 50% chance of vein problems. Jobs with long periods of sitting or standing can also cause or exacerbate vein problems. Long, hot summer days outside can be painful especially if you are overweight.
So, what can you do to protect your legs this summer? Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle is especially important to decrease the stress of vein swelling that can accompany the heat. Keep yourself well hydrated. Exercise or walking in water, especially late in the day, also helps relieve the venous congestion and swelling that can build up.
While you can’t totally avoid the high summer temperatures that may aggravate your vein trouble, you can support your vein health with a fit and active lifestyle that helps prevent problems from your veins.
SOME FACTS AND MYTHS
- Crossing your legs doesn’t cause varicose veins.Neither does wearing high heels. “These are just old wives’ tales. The pooling of blood is actually more commonly caused by prolonged standing and/or sitting. Other notable causes: obesity, smoking, lack of exercise and hormonal birth control.
- They’re not just a cosmetic problem.Probably the most common misconception about varicose veins is that people only get them treated because they’re, well, vain. Though experts agree that varicose veins are most often not a health issue, they shouldn’t be ignored. “Varicose veins cause fatigue of the legs, swelling and general discomfort. They can also be a warning of long-term health risks including: deep vein thrombosis, blood clots, poor circulation and leg swelling
- It’s definitely genetic, but don’t be too quick to blame one parent or the other. You can inherit the tendencies from either, or both sides of the family, and it can even skip a generation.
- Varicose veins and spider veins aren’t the same thing.
Spider veins are:
- small, thin red blood vessels that can be seen under the skin
- usually harmless
- can be a symptom of poor circulation and varicose vein formation
Varicose veins are:
- stretched-out veins where blood has pooledB) thick, “ropey” and protrude out of legs
- thick, “ropey” and protrude out of legs
- occur when one-way valves don’t work properly
- Men have them, too. While experts agree that 70 to 80% of patients treated for varicose veins are women, men also suffer from venous diseases, even if they’re less likely to seek treatment.
- Exercise is the best way to prevent and maintain vein issues,so add this to your list of reasons to sneak in a workout. “The more you’re active and healthy the better,”
- There’s no proven way to reduce the appearance(aside from professional treatment), though some patients use makeup to cover up their prominent veins.
- Treatment is better than ever, so that’s good news.According to experts, treatment today is quite advanced. “There are no scars, no cutting—very minimal recovery. We do it in an office setting, we stay away from the hospital and we stay away from the need for general anesthesia,”
So when should you see a doctor?
“If your legs feel heavy or sore at the end of the day or with physical activity,” If you are not sure you suffer from venous insufficiency or varicose veins kindly book an appointment with MEDSTAR VEIN CLINIC for a free vein consultation today and enjoy a pain-free summer