What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins are caused by infection that develops during pregnancy, injury or surgery.
The infection destroys the valves that control the flow of blood to the veins, causing them to become abnormally and irregularly swollen. Varicose veins are almost always found on the lower legs and ankles, thus occupations requiring prolonged periods of standing aggravate the problem. The condition, known as varicosis, is more common to women than men, because the pressure exerted by the fetus on the mother during pregnancy and childbirth is usually transmitted downward into the veins, and can cause infection. There are several ways to disguise or eliminate varicose veins. Most can be controlled by wearing supportive stockings that keep the veins from filling with blood. In some cases, a solution can be injected into the veins to obliterate them, and in others the veins can be removed by surgery.
Varicose veins are a cosmetic problem for many people. But they can be a medical problem as well. They often cause thinning of the skin (typically just above the ankle) and their presence increases the risk of blood clots and inflammation of the veins. Varicose veins are enlarged, twisting veins close to the skin in the legs that may be accompanied by skin discoloration. The cause is unknown but is associated with weakness in the vein walls and the valves within the veins that help move the blood. Though about 15 percent of people eventually will develop some varicose veins, only a small percentage of them have serious complications, such as swelling of the legs, skin infections and ulcers. People are at an increased risk of developing varicose veins if family members have them, if they are greatly overweight and if they stand for long periods of time or lift heavy objects. Hormonal influences during pregnancy also will increase their occurrence.
You cannot “cure” varicose veins; treatment is focused on relieving symptoms, improving appearance and preventing complications. But you can block them off or remove them. A number of treatments are available. Self-help measures for minor cases or early stages include elevating the legs when possible and wearing elastic stockings. Losing weight also may be of benefit. And because walking serves as an aid to moving blood back from the legs, that form of exercise will relieve pressure as well as help one lose weight. Unfortunately, no matter what some people do, because of the veins they inherited, varicose veins will eventually appear.
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Surgical treatment seeks to remove or block the blood flow to the affected vein. This is not as severe as it sounds. Unlike deep veins in the legs that are critical to returning blood to the heart, these “superficial” veins are much less important. Injection therapy entails using a needle to put an irritating chemical into the faulty vein. Scar tissue then forms in response to the irritation and blocks the vein. This is the simplest surgical approach. In another surgical procedure called vein stripping, two ends of the vein on either side of the affected area are tied off and the part in between is removed or stripped out. This is a much more complicated procedure that may require removal of other veins, including deeper parts, to be successful. Laser surgery is another way to treat varicose veins. This procedure uses a small, intense beam of light to “vaporize” the tissue to be removed. As with any medical or surgical treatment, it’s important for you to discuss the risks, benefits and costs of your options with one or more physicians before deciding which way to go.
Many people know compression socks as those thick white tubes patients must wear after surgery to prevent blood clots when they are stuck in bed. But a different type of compression sock, called graduated compression hosiery, is geared toward everyday use outside a hospital setting to help with a number of leg ailments, from aching to swelling to varicose veins to more serious venous insufficiency and lymphedema. The purpose of graduated compression socks is to promote blood flow out of the legs and toward the heart. The pressure of the garment, measured by millimeters of mercury, is greatest at the ankle and decreases as it goes up the leg to help blood fight gravity. Different pressure strengths serve different needs. People who experience mild leg swelling from prolonged sitting or standing, traveling, pregnancy or sports may find relief with over-the-counter compression stockings with mild 15-20 mmHg; people with moderate leg swelling, heavy legs or varicose veins might need compression of 20-30 mmHg; more severe vein ailments might require compression garments up to 60 mmHg. Patients with persistent swelling, evidence of skin breakdown or chronic discoloration should see a doctor. In general, pharmacies require a prescription for compression greater than 20 mmHg.
“There’s virtually nobody that I can think of that would be adversely affected by using this kind of a garment, provided it is comfortable. As a precaution, those with a pre-existing condition might ask their physician first. Graduated compression socks and hosiery must be replaced two to four times a year as the elastic elements weaken. Though the socks are medical garments, costs are not covered by most insurance companies, though some may cover costs based on a medical diagnosis, he said.
Treating bothersome leg veins. Tending to enlarged leg veins can improve their appearance and reduce the risk of swelling, aching, and other problems.
If you have varicose veins — those dark blue or purple leg veins that bulge above the skin’s surface — you may dread wearing beachwear and other clothes that expose your legs. But the problem may not be merely cosmetic. Varicose veins can cause pain and discomfort and even, in rare cases, bleeding leg sores. Treating enlarged leg veins can relieve discomfort and prevent complications. The approach that’s best for you depends on the size, type and location of your varicose veins.
Leg veins propel oxygen-depleted blood all the way back to your heart, working against gravity and the pressure of your body weight. These veins have one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing backward, but the valves can weaken and stop working properly, especially as we age. As a result of these changes, blood can pool in the veins immediately under the skin, causing them to enlarge and become less elastic. In a varicose vein, the valves are deformed and don’t close properly, so the blood flows backward, pools and enlarges the vein.
Size determines type. There are several types of enlarged veins: varicose, reticular and spider veins. Varicose veins are at least one-tenth of an inch in diameter and may be as large as three-quarters of an inch. They often resemble twisted ropes and can form anywhere from the thigh to the ankle. You’re most likely to feel the chief symptoms — aching, burning, pressure, heaviness or weakness in the legs — after standing or sitting for a long period of time. At night you may develop a painful muscle spasm in your calf (a charley horse). Your feet and ankles may swell, and the skin around the affected veins may become dry and itchy, or develop a rash or a brownish or bluish discoloration.
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Reticular veins, also known as blue veins or feeder veins, are smaller than varicose veins but may also have a ropy appearance. They occur mainly on the back of the leg, usually around the knee. Reticular veins may branch into (or feed) spider veins, which are smaller than reticular veins and don’t bulge or cause discomfort. They look like red or blue spider webs on the skin’s surface and may occur on the face as well as the legs. More than 40 percent of women over age 50 and 75 percent of women over age 70 have varicose veins. Not only do blood vessels weaken with age, so do calf muscles, which normally help squeeze veins and send blood back toward the heart as you walk. Other risk factors that can predispose you to varicose veins include gender (women are slightly more susceptible), heredity, jobs that involve standing, and excess weight.
Unless you have symptoms, there’s no reason to treat varicose veins. If you have symptoms, try putting your feet up, being active to encourage circulation, avoiding prolonged sitting or standing, wearing compression stockings and taking a pain reliever for occasional mild aches.
Compression stockings for Varicose veins
There are rather more types of compression stockings for varicose veins available than the traditional image of this rather maligned treatment garment would suggest. While the traditional image is of tight beige knitted cotton gradually wrinkling at the ankles, there are now a wide range of highly supportive stockings and tights available in a variety of colors that might actually lead the casual observer to believe that you are not actually wearing compression garments at all. While this obviously is not as obvious an issue for men, there are still a decent range of good, effective products available that will still deliver the relief and comfort that you need. The way that compression stocking works is to put pressure on the skin all the way up the leg to effectively squeeze the blood up towards the heart. In someone without varicose veins, the venous valves work to prevent blood from flowing backwards however with a varicose vein the blood leaks back through the damaged valve, obeying gravity, to pool in the vein and cause the stretching that makes the vein show from beneath the skin.
Although there is significant evidence to support that support stockings provide relief from the discomfort of varicose veins, the evidence is inconclusive as to whether they prevent new ones from appearing. That said, the evidence may also be inconclusive because people are not quite as disciplined about wearing them at all times as they could be as they can be uncomfortable, (particularly when the weather is warm) and can make the skin on your legs dry. If this happens, it is advised that you apply a moisturizer or emollient cream before bed after taking the stockings off. While the compression stockings that you receive from your doctor or specialist may be rather utilitarian in nature, if you wish to, there are a lot of decent products out there that do not look overtly medical. It is usual for Compression stockings for varicose veins to be prescribed in either a light or medium level of compression and with different lengths and foot styles available, you can more often than not, find the fit that is best and most comfortable for you.
There are also compression tights available that come in a variety of colors, sizes and finishes and there are a number of places on-line where you can purchase these products. Compression stockings need to be put on from the moment that the patient gets until just before they go to bed as they need to worn at all times, as well as being worn in the correct manner to ensure that maximum benefit is derived from wearing them. Because the amount of compression varies over the length of the stocking, it is important to make sure that they are pulled up properly and that each part of the leg is compressed where it should be. If they are not worn properly, the stocking may either dig in or fall down. Custom made varicose vein compression stockings are also available and these can be very helpful for people who find the standard ones uncomfortable to wear, however this will require the patient to be measured, preferably in the morning, before any swelling can occur that may skew the fit of the garment.
Cost of Varicose Vein Removal Treatment
The cost of varicose vein treatment can vary wildly depending on the country that you live in. In the UK certain surgical interventions like Ligation and Stripping and Sclerotherapy can be provided on the NHS from time to time. This is generally when the patients varicose veins are starting to impair their quality of life by causing significant amounts of pain or swelling, limiting the patients mobility or because the veins themselves have become unstable and the patient runs the risk of bleeding out from a ruptured or damaged vein. In this instance, the treatment is a medical procedure rather than a cosmetic one. If you have private health care, your plan may cover medical vein treatment so it is worth checking if you are in a situation where you are experiencing problems. Commercial cosmetic practitioners over a bewildering array of treatments and when choosing somewhere to have a procedure of this type, it will benefit you to get recommendations, check that the premises is licensed probably and that the people performing the procedure are properly qualified to do the procedure that you are paying for. The three treatments that are commonly offered are Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT), Sclerotherapy and Phlebectomy.
Sclerotherapy is the least expensive treatment available, as this is a tried and tested method of dealing with the condition and for many practitioners is the treatment of choice for minor varicose veins and thread veins. Costs for this treatment in the UK average somewhere between £150 to £250 for 1 hours treatment and around $200 to $400 in the US, however the number of treatments and the cost will depend on the extent of your varicose veins, how large they are, whether both legs need to be treated, if your problems veins are on an another area of the body and the skill of the medical professional involved.
Endovenous Laser Treatment being a relatively new technique is slightly more expensive, but as the procedure is very quick. In a lot of cases the veins can be treated in around 30 minutes but again it is feasible that more than one visit may be required to achieve the results that the patient desires and the costs can mount up when laser vein removal can cost from around $500 upwards or £450 per treatment, which can increase dramatically if your varicose veins are extensive or awkward to treat.
Phlebectomy or Ambulatory Phlebectomy is the removal of the damaged vein through tiny incisions in the skin and many patients prefer it as it can deal with an entire problem vein in one visit. This can be used as a alternative to the more radical surgical treatment of Ligation and Stripping which requires a general anesthetic and a significant amount of recovery time. This procedure can be performed with a local anesthetic as an outpatient procedure and the patient will be mobile again immediately after the surgery though it is recommended that a few days are taken off work afterwards to aid recovery. With all of these treatments there is a requirement to wear compression hosiery to support the circulation. While this may look like an expensive option at around $1000/£900 per session, the patient is much less likely to require additional treatments to get rid of the problem veins.
Facial Spider Veins & varicose veins Removal
Facial varicose veins are a cosmetic nightmare for sufferers and can be difficult to cope with, as in contrast to varicose veins elsewhere, these cannot be covered up with clothing. Even spider veins and thread veins can be covered with special high density make up, however the problem with facial varicose veins is that they present as a bump on the skin. Unfortunately this type of varicose vein seems to mainly affect post menopausal women and facial varicose veins generally develop as a consequence of the aging process. That said, they can also develop as a result of physical trauma, skin damage due to working outside and sun damage, a family history of varicose veins and the use of steroids, all things that it can be quite difficult to avoid. While make up may provide a temporary solution to the problem, there are a couple of medical techniques that are used for varicose veins elsewhere in the body that can be used to successfully treat facial varicose veins. Because the presence of varicose veins on the face is considered to be a cosmetic issue, and unlikely to cause the physical problems that arise as a result of varicose veins in the legs, this will need to be performed by a cosmetic surgeon and may involve several sessions to completely resolve the problem, so it is worthwhile remembering that there may be some significant costs involved in treating the condition.
There are two main treatments advertised by cosmetic therapy providers that are often used to treat varicose veins elsewhere in the body. The first is sclerotherapy, guided by ultrasound the medical practitioner injects a liquid chemical or chemical laden foam into the affected vein which causes it to scar and close. This is a relatively non-invasive treatment and is performed under a local anesthetic so the patient is able to return to work almost immediately. If this procedure is performed on the facial area, it might be advantageous to not return to work afterwards as there is likely to be some localized swelling and redness around the injection sites. If the patient chooses to undergo foam sclerotherapy, it is advisable to ensure that any residual sight disturbances or dizziness has passed before leaving the clinic. Likewise there will be soreness, redness and swelling so returning to work immediately may not be an option when having this treatment on the face.
Another more recent innovation in the field of varicose vein treatment has been Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT or ELT). An optical fiber is directed into the vein and moved into the correct position. The laser pulses, burning the inside of the vein, causing it to scar and seal. While there is good patient feedback because the veins actually do fade significantly in a couple of weeks, the newness of this procedure and the technology lead it to be more expensive than sclerotherapy, and inevitably there will be some puffiness and marking of the skin immediately after the treatment. One key thing to remember is that these treatments do not treat the underlying causes of facial varicose veins so it pays to take good care of your skin and look after yourself.
Herbs for Spider Veins
There are a number of traditional medicinal herbs for Spider veins available that can help with the condition. Â These are readily available from herbalists and health food shops and are also useful in the fight against varicose veins. There are many people who now prefer to take a more holistic and proactive approach to maintaining their circulatory health and there are a surprisingly large number of herbal products available that can be used to help treat this unsightly and occasionally uncomfortable condition that are either taken as a dietary supplement or are applied as a tincture or ointment to the affected area.
These herbs are often not a definitive cure; however they can offer significant relief and a distinct reduction of symptoms. It is also advisable to get your herb based remedies from a respected source as the manufacturing process removes irritant or even toxic compounds that are also present in the form present in nature. Most people will have seen or heard of Gingko Biloba, but may not realize its many uses and benefits. As one of the world’s most studied herbs, there is a significant amount of evidence to support its use to improve poor circulation, which also helps treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and peripheral arterial disease.
Gingko Biloba is rich in bioflavoniods that are known to be effective in protecting capillaries from damage, improving the blood circulation and also works to thin the blood, all of which are pivotal to effective treatment of this condition and taking this dietary supplement regularly has been known to be successful at reducing the visibility and appearance of spider veins.
Liquid Witch Hazel is an astringent that is commonly applied externally to the area affected by spider veins or varicose veins. This needs to be applied to the affected area at least three times a day for at least a month before proper results will be observed. As witch hazel has some irritant qualities, it is not to be taken internally and can also cause skin problems for those with sensitivity to it.
Cypress oil is derived from the ancient Cypress tree and has been used through the ages to treat wounds, aid the circulation and is commonly used in Aromatherapy to treat stress, asthma, spider veins, varicose veins and poor circulation. The essential oil needs to be diluted and massaged into the effected area several times a day. One of the advantages with Cypress Oil is that skin irritation is a very rare occurrence.
Horse Chestnut has been tested extensively and when applied in the form of a cream or lotion, or taken as a supplement, has been clinically proven to significantly reduce the pain and inflammation of varicose veins and spider veins. This is due to its anti-inflammatory and blood thinning qualities. It is not recommended that people who are taking blood thinning medication should take this extract without discussing it with your doctor. The common factor with all of these extracts is their anti-inflammatory and vein strengthening qualities, however as with all medications, it is best to check whether there are any unpleasant interactions with anything that you are already taking.
Home Remedy & Treatment for Spider Veins
There are a wide number of home treatments for spider veins available and it is fair to say that they can also vary widely in their effectiveness. Ultimately when choosing a home remedy of spider veins you may need to try out several until you find a dietary supplement, lotion or lifestyle change that has a positive impact. One of the best ways to ensure that you are doing everything possible to reduce the possibility of new varicose veins appearing is by adopting good healthy living habits, taking regular exercise, not smoking, reducing your intake of salt and saturated fat and eating a varied diet that is packed with fresh fruit and vegetables. Reducing salt and saturated fat as well as stopping smoking is particularly important because of the well documented negative effects these bad habits have on cardiovascular health, while exercise is a great way of maintaining and improving the circulation.
There are also several creams, oils and lotions on the market that can help to fade spider veins, though they require that you stick with them for a significant period of time in order to see results. However as previously mentioned, it is also possible that they may not work for you at all so it is worth reading the reviews before you commit to any expenditure. Bio oil, which is a blend of easily absorbed oils including rosemary oil, is used to treat scars, reduce stretch marks and to fade spider veins. Some users have reported significant improvements to the appearance of their spider veins but this does not occur in all cases and the oil is quite expensive to buy. Vein Away cream is another product on the market that purports to improve the appearance of spider veins, however again the reviews are rather mixed about its effectiveness and again it is rather pricy.
Alternatively there are a number of dietary supplements available that may be able to help in reducing the appearance of spider veins. Gingko Biloba is a tried and tested dietary supplement that can play an excellent supporting role for the circulatory system. Incidentally, this supplement is often suggested for older people as it can also help lessen the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, by increasing blood flow throughout the body and helping the brain to work more efficiently. Horse Chestnut also has been reported as beings an excellent remedy for all of the symptoms of varicose veins and spider veins, though in order to see effective results the patient needs to take this for around three months. This has been subject to clinical trials that verify the claims that this extract can improve circulation, reduce inflammation and strengthen capillaries and veins. There is only one downside that it is important to remember when taking Horse Chestnut extract on a regular basis, and that is that you must not exceed the maximum dosage as large doses can be toxic. Butcher’s Broom, Grape Seed, Bilberry and Hawthorn extracts are also all meant to be very useful for treating spider veins due to the presence of bioflavonoids that strengthen and rebuild capillary and blood vessel walls.
Laser Therapy for Varicose Veins Removal
Laser Therapy for varicose veins goes by an assortment of brand names. Overall this technique promises to become a popular method of dealing with troublesome and unsightly varicose veins.
Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) also referred to as Endovenous Ablation Therapy is an effective way of dealing with the cosmetic aspects of varicose veins and a slightly different laser based treatment has proven effective for getting rid of spider veins. Like all of the other treatments for varicose veins, this will get rid of the problem veins that you currently have but will not prevent new ones appearing, particularly if you are genetically predisposed to this condition. As non-painful stable varicose veins are not considered to be a medical problem, this work will need to be completed as a cosmetic procedure and there are likely to be significant costs involved. Although this sounds like a miracle treatment, unfortunately this is not appropriate for everyone. If you have particularly severe varicose veins this may not be the treatment for you and surgery may be a more appropriate option.
People with a tendency towards keloid scarring (this is when a scar develops as a raised hard lump) are not deemed suitable and because laser treatments can affect and be affected by skin tone, it is best seek advice from your doctor or medical practitioner to determine whether this treatment is the best one for you. The laser treatments for varicose veins and spider veins are slightly different. As spider veins are by their very nature close to the surface of the skin, Laser spider vein treatment involves no needles and no incisions. The laser pulses, passing light through the skin to heat up the blood in the affected tiny vein. Heating the vein up makes it shrink in size, and over a period of a couple of days will disappear from view almost completely in most cases. The patient only experiences a small amount of heat in the affected area, however depending on the severity of the veins, further treatment may be required.
The procedure for the laser treatment (also known as and removal of varicose veins is slightly different and marginally more invasive. Prior to the surgery, an ultrasound scan will be performed to ‘map’ your leg veins to determine where the problem is and also to ensure that the treatment is not going to have a knock on effect somewhere else in the patients circulatory system. After this has been performed, a small incision is made close to the site of the affected vein into which a small tube or catheter is fed. This tube helps the doctor to target the affected blood vessels with the laser so that when the laser is switched on, the energy that it emits shrinks and seals the vein off. The result of the procedure is the treated vein, as well as the neighboring veins affected by it disappear from view, improving the appearance of the affected area. Recovery time is very quick for most patients and they can resume normal activities very soon after the procedure, though, as it common with other treatment, there is a need to wear compression stockings to help the circulation and prevent blood clots. One of the benefits of this procedure is that post operative complications are comparatively rare.
Natural help To get rid of Varicose Veins
There are a number of techniques available that provide natural help for varicose veins that do not involve pills, chemicals or medical interventions. In recent years, many people have sought to find more holistic ways of treating themselves that lie outside of conventional medicine and there are many techniques that, while they may not make your varicose veins go away, they also will not make them worse and may give you with some much needed relief from aching and discomfort. That said, it is also worth bearing in mind that if you are experiencing major pain, there is bleeding or bruising or you have developed a skin problem like varicose eczema or an ulcer, it is advisable that you seek appropriate medical treatment to prevent these conditions from getting worse.
Yoga can be a major help in relieving the symptoms and discomfort of varicose veins. Although postures that encourage the blood to drain from the legs are the most obvious means of obtaining relief from the condition, it is believed that the deep breathing that you engage in as part of your Yoga practice helps to oxygenate the blood which means that your circulation is working more effectively. The Yoga postures that are of most benefit to varicose vein sufferers are those where the feet are above heart level which helps the blood drain back towards the heart as it is meant to, and can also help reduce swelling. Though it is advisable to speak to a proper yoga teacher, there are plenty of resources available on the internet, as well as videos and books that mean that you can do yoga at home without outside assistance. However as is true of any form of new exercise, consult a medical professional if you have any concerns.
Hydrotherapy can be one of a number of ways of reducing discomfort that involves the use of heat and cold, eliminating the need for pills to relieve pain. Cold compresses applied to the affected area can often help to reduce swelling and discomfort, while alternating between hot and cold baths is believed to stimulate the circulation. This involves two buckets of water, one that is bearably hot (so be sure to test it with an elbow first to ensure that you will not get scalded) and one that is cold which should of a depth that will cover most of your lower leg.
Aromatherapy oils or Espom Salts can also be added to the water to make the process more pleasant and you will need to repeat this treatment once a day for about a month. It is important to note however, that if you suffer from diabetes make sure you use warm, rather than hot water as diabetics tend to be more likely to suffer from scalds due to problems with the nerves in the leg.
Another common sense way to help varicose veins is to lead a healthier lifestyle, with a diet that is rich in fruit (particularly dark berry fruits like blackberries and cherries) and vegetables. It is also important that your food is low in saturated fats and salt as both of these have a well documented negative effect on venous and cardiovascular health, as well as maintaining a healthy weight. Exercising regularly and not smoking, which also has a negative effect on cardiovascular health as it causes the blood vessels to harden and constrict and reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood stream, will also help. While this cannot be described as a magic bullet that will cure or prevent varicose veins, it does mean that you are doing everything you can to stay in tip top health.
How to Prevent Varicose veins
No one wants to get varicose veins and there are a number of ways of preventing varicose veins from appearing or reappearing if you have had treatment to repair or remove them. While pregnancy, hormonal changes or an underlying family predisposition to the condition may make varicose veins hard to avoid, there is a lot you can do to help fight them off. If you know that you are already at high risk, because you have already had varicose veins or close family members have already had significant problems, try wearing compression stockings or tights. Because the way the legs are squeezed by the stockings, you can ensure that no undue pressure is being placed on your venous valves and your circulation is being properly supported. They need to be worn from the moment you get up until you go to bed at night which may not always be practical. Following a sensible diet and exercise regime has an important role to play in the prevention of varicose veins. Exercising regularly by simply getting out for a thirty minute brisk walk four times a week can really make a difference to your cardiovascular health in general as well as strengthening your legs muscles which also improves the circulation.
Be sure to consult your doctor before you start a program of exercise if you have any other health problems. A diet that is rich in bioflavonoids, Vitamin C and Vitamin E goes a long way towards preventing varicose veins as these vitamins and antioxidants are instrumental in repairing and strengthening veins and capillaries. Be sure to include dark berry fruits like cherries and black currants in your diet (as these are a great source of bioflavoniods and vitamin C) as well as lots of other fresh fruit and vegetables and watch your salt intake to ensure that you are not damaging your heart and circulatory system with an excessively high Â intake. It is also very important to keep your weight down as extra body fat puts too much pressure on the legs and can cause varicose veins to appear. If you can avoid standing for extended periods of time, make sure you do. However even if your job does require you to stand for 85% of your working day, there are still ways to lessen the risk of developing varicose veins.
When you are standing still, make sure you move your weight from one foot to the other, walk about when you get the opportunity and raise your heels up and down several times an hour to get the blood pumping properly in your legs. It also pays to remember that when you get to the end of a long day of standing, make sure you put your feet up (preferably above heart level) for at least an hour. Likewise, if you have a sedentary job that involves sitting down for extended periods during the day, remember to get up and walk around a couple of times an hour as this again will encourage the blood in your legs to flow properly and remember to rotate your ankles. It is also worth noting that crossing your legs at the knee can also severely impede efficient blood flow so cross your legs at the ankle instead. Make sure that when sitting and relaxing at night, you have your feet up as this reduces the strain on the veins. What you wear is also important. Tight clothes that restrict blood flow can increase the risk of varicose veins, and so do high heels. Walking in heels works the buttock muscles rather than the calf muscles which means that the massaging action of walking is lost. If you know you are in danger of developing varicose veins it might be best to stick to low heeled shoes.
Varicose vein Leg/Knee pain
Though many varicose vein sufferers experience little more than unattractive lumps and veins on the legs and other places, in certain circumstances they can experience significant varicose vein pain that makes the legs ache, feel heavy and can also result in swelling at the ankle at the end of the day. The affected leg or area can also feel like it is burning or can trigger muscle spasms during the night. In the early stages of the condition there are a number of lifestyle changes that you can adopt that may slow down varicose vein development, however if you are pregnant or you have a definite family history of developing varicose veins, there may be limits to what you can achieve. That said, the varicose veins that appear during pregnancy can often fade after the birth, though after multiple pregnancies they are unfortunately likely to become more permanent. It is recommended that you eat probably and sensibly, are careful about fat and salt intake (both of which can have a very negative impact on heart and venous health), reduce alcohol, stop smoking and ensure that your diet is rich in vitamin C and E that have proven benefits for the skin and veins.
It is also advised that you try to avoid crossing your legs at the knee as this also has a detrimental effect on the circulation in the legs. You can also manage minor varicose vein pain by taking an over the counter anti-inflammatory painkiller like Ibuprofen or Aspirin that will work on the affected area to bring down any swelling and heat that is being generated. Some people also swear by applying a cold compress to the affected area to bring relief. If you have the kind of occupation that requires standing or being on foot for extended periods of time and you are being made uncomfortable by your varicose veins, it is advisable to put your feet up for a while to allow the blood to drain away from the affected area, making sure that you raise your feet above the level of your heart. This also works well if you do not have to stand up all day, but it is also not a license to not move about. Making sure that you rest your legs and also move about (by going for a short walk for example) is important. While the resting allows for drainage, the walking promotes good circulation and will help maintain fitness and cardiovascular health. Having stronger muscles can also help ease the pain, as well as helping you maintain a healthy BMI that will lessen the strain on your circulatory system that excess weight causes. Compression stockings are a commonly prescribed method of easing the discomfort of varicose veins as they help to support the circulation and encourage the blood to flow back towards the heart as it is meant to. As well as preventing the blood pooling in the varicose vein which gives the sensation of pressure and burning, it also prevents the swelling that can occur at the ankles, generally improving all round leg comfort.
Varicose veins risk factors
There are a number of varicose vein risk factors and unfortunately, there are several of the identified risks that a sufferer can do little about as they are often dictated by simple facts of life or fate. While having one or more of the risk factors may increase the chances of getting varicose veins and spider veins, it does not necessarily mean that you are destined to get them, and being aware of the risk factors may actually help you to negate their effects. Gender is a major risk factor for varicose veins as women tend to be more likely to develop this condition. Many of the major physical changes and life events in women’s lives carry a risk as estrogen and progesterone, the major hormones that dictate puberty, pregnancy and the menopause are known to have muscle and tissue relaxing properties that lead blood vessels to stretch creating the perfect circumstances for varicose veins to occur.
Pregnancy is a very common time of life for varicose veins to develop as the additional weight of carrying the baby, the tissue relaxing qualities of the large amounts of hormones that are pumping around the body and the increase amount of blood in the mothers body needed to support the successful growth of the baby all make the appearance of varicose veins much more likely. Although in many cases, these rogue veins will fade in appearance and present no further symptoms after about three months, successive pregnancies carry the risk that any veins that appeared in during your pregnancy are more likely to come back and stay. Varicose veins also commonly run in families, as genetic factors can be a powerful influence in determining the strength of the vein valves. It is worth checking out your family history to determine whether this may be likely to affect you.
Varicose veins are an affliction often suffered by chefs, food servers and shop workers, as well as anyone else who needs to spend hours on their feet. If your job requires that you have to stand up for many hours at a time, it makes it easier for the blood to pool which causes the stretching of the venous walls that causes varicose veins to occur. It is always worth remembering that sitting down with your feet raised up after a long day will help to relive discomfort and perhaps may prevent varicose veins from developing. Sitting for long periods is not good for the veins and is also a risk factor. When sitting at a desk the legs are bent at the hips and knees which can limit the blood flow and impair the circulation which also makes the sitter more likely tod develop this condition. People who like to sit with their legs crossed at the knee are also at an increased risk. The additional pressure wrought by high blood pressure and the weight of obesity is also a problem, but varicose veins can also be caused by sustaining a leg injury, aging, being on oral contraceptives and also as a result of straining because of constipation can all have a negative effect of your venous health.
Ruptured Varicose vein in Leg
A ruptured varicose vein can be a serious medical emergency that can put a patient at risk of death as a result of clotting that causes Deep Vein Thrombosis or blood loss. The risk of this unfortunate complication of varicose veins is increased as we age, due to the fact that our skins get thinner so relatively minor bangs and scratches can result in a rupture because of the site of varicose veins close to the surface of the skin. Ruptures can also occur spontaneously due to veins being overstretched as a result of excess pressure because of obesity or high blood pressure, or some other condition that cause the vein cell structure to weaken to the extent that the vein walls fail. In contrast to a normal vein, the pressure inside a varicose vein is much higher than is usual, so the risk of a serious, life threatening bleed is significantly higher. This is particularly bad for people who are frail or and have an underlying medical condition so being aware of the dangers can be very useful should the need arise.
When a ruptured varicose vein occurs, there are some essential first aid tips that can prevent more severe consequences like bleeding out occurring:
- Apply pressure to the affected area to help the bleeding to stop, if possible, also try to ensure that the wound is properly cleaned in order to prevent secondary infections.
- Applying a cold compress can also be a way of assisting the clotting process.
- Lie down, raising the affected limb above heart level to help to reduce the pressure on the breached vein and in order to help clotting to start.
- If the patient takes blood thinning medications such as Wafarin and Aspirin, ensure that they get immediate medical attention as they are at much higher risk than a healthy person of bleeding to death.
- If the bleeding cannot be controlled, ensure that you call for an ambulance or attend your local accident and emergency department as a matter of urgency.
- If the patient suffers from varicose ulceration it is also recommended that immediate medical attention is sought due to the advanced nature of their vascular problems.
It is probably best to advise anyone who has experienced a ruptured varicose vein that they consult their doctor to ensure that there are no complications that have arisen unawares even if you have been successful in bringing the bleeding to a stop. It is also prudent to consult a doctor to determine whether surgery is required due to the increased risk of complications from unstable veins, especially if they also suffer from some other type of arterial condition like peripheral vascular disease. This is due to the fact that in order to preserve overall physical health, mobility needs to be maintained in order to ensure a reasonable quality of life. The unfortunate outlook is that, left untreated, there is a strong chance that varicose veins can develop some serious complications so when they appear, it is a persons best interests as a patient to follow some simple techniques to ensure that they do not get worse.
Bleeding Varicose Veins
Because of the nature of the condition, where the affected veins are located very close to the surface of the skin, bleeding varicose veins are a real danger that can be seriously hazardous to health, and even can be fatal due to rapid and extensive blood loss. Bleeding varicose veins are often caused by falls, cuts or blows to the skin which mean that bleeding of this type need to be dealt with quickly and decisively in order to prevent complications. Because varicose veins are stretched, this means that they bleed much more easily than healthy veins because the vein walls are thin. In addition to this, these weakened veins will bleed more heavily due to the fact that the pressure in a varicose vein is much higher than in a normal vein which actually accelerates the blood loss. Bleeding varicose veins are more likely to affect senior citizens, because in additions to the points raised above, our skins get thinner as we age, which means that any scrape or scratch will inevitably cause more significant and potentially life-threatening damage making the problem more difficult to manage and treat.
In the event that you should be unfortunate enough to experience an accident that results in bleeding varicose veins, follow these simple first aid rules that may well help you to avoid a tragedy:
- Apply pressure as well as a cold compress or dressing to the open wound in an attempt to bring the bleeding under control.
- Lie down on the floor, making sure that you elevate the affected limb above the level of your heart to reduce the blood flow to the wound.
- Try to ensure that you clean the wound properly with antiseptic to prevent unwanted wound infections.
- If you do manage to stop the bleeding, make sure that you dress the wound appropriately.
- If you cannot stop the bleeding, obtain urgent medical attention immediately.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you take any blood thinning medications or any medical conditions that prevent your blood from clotting properly. Severe blood loss can kill surprisingly quickly so it is important that you get to your doctor or accident and emergency department as soon as possible.
- Even if you do manage to stop the bleeding, it is advisable to visit a doctor very soon after the incident. The reason for this is you may need to find a way to prevent the bleeding from happening again as uncontrolled bleeding can have a seriously negative impact on your health.
Bleeding varicose veins are also an indicator that more radical, possibly surgical, treatment may be required as the affected vein has now become potentially unstable and may leak without warning. If you have experienced bleeding varicose veins as well as also suffering from some form of arterial disease, or peripheral vascular disease in the legs, you are likely to also be referred for further treatment as work will be required to ensure that good circulation and mobility are maintained. When bleeding varicose veins occur, it is vital that you obtain medical attention as soon as you can.
Alternative treatments for Varicose Veins
Many of the alternative treatments for varicose veins involve working with the body to improve circulation. The benefits of improving the circulation when you have varicose veins are that it actively prevents blood from pooling in the area of a faulty venous valve, thus ensuring that your veins do not become even more stretched than they are already and give the area the opportunity for some natural repair to take place. Aromatherapy massages are a very pleasant and effective way of helping to improve leg circulation and providing relief from the discomfort of varicose veins. The massage practitioner will massage the legs, using a combination of rosemary, cypress and other oils that are suitable for your skin type and condition, working upwards towards the heart while avoiding the varicose veins themselves. This approach has some major benefits particularly when your affected veins causes muscle cramps and spasms.
Yoga can be an effective treatment that provides significant relief from the symptoms of varicose veins because there are a number of postures or sutras that are ideal for improving the circulation and strengthening the body to make it work more efficiently. Postures that involve raising the feet above the heart, i.e. shoulder stands, allow the blood to drain from the legs towards the heart taking any unnecessary pressure off your leg veins. There is also evidence to suggest the deep breathing involved in yoga helps to oxygenate the blood. If you wish to try yoga out, attend a class if you can as a good yoga teacher will have an awareness of the best postures for your level of physical fitness and health and will be able to guide you appropriately. If that is not possible, there are an abundance of yoga resources available but be careful not attempt postures that are too difficult for you.
Applying a cold compress to the affected area can provide almost instantaneous relief from discomfort and astringents like apple cider vinegar or witch hazel can also be added to the compresses to reduce the swelling. Hydrotherapy can also be a useful way of treating your varicose veins. This involves alternating hot and cold baths of the affected limb to improve the circulation. The patient needs to hold the leg in the hot water for 3 minutes then placing it in the cold water for three minutes and swapping between the two. It is very important to note however that diabetics should only use warm water, rather than hot water in order to prevent burns and skin problems. This needs to be repeated daily for about a month in order to obtain maximum benefit. Adapting your diet can have a positive effect on varicose veins for a variety of reasons. It is recommended that you follow a high fiber diet as it acts as a stool softener. This is of benefit because straining can put additional pressure on the circulation which may cause varicose veins to form or get worse, not to mention running the risk of hemorrhoids. There is also a large amount of evidence to support adding plenty of dark berry fruits into your diet. These include cherries, black currants and blackberries in either whole or juice form as the bioflavonoids work to strengthen the veins and capillaries as does the high levels of vitamin C present in these fruits