- Home remedies for varicose veins
- Natural Varicose Veins Treatment
- Can Varicose Veins Be Cured?
- How do vein doctors now remove varicose veins?
- How we treat varicose veins at The Vein Institute
- What Does Having Poor Circulation Mean?
- What Leads to Poor Circulation in the Legs?
- What Can Poor Circulation Cause?
- How Can I Reverse Poor Circulation?
- Reversing Poor Circulation Through Vein Treatment
Home remedies for varicose veins
If a person has varicose veins, they can try the following home remedies to help manage the condition and improve symptoms:
Regular exercise encourages better blood circulation in the legs, which helps to push along the blood that has collected in the veins. Exercise also helps to lower a person’s blood pressure, which is another contributing factor to varicose veins.
Low-impact exercises help to get the calf muscles working without excessive strain. Effective, low-impact exercises include:
2. Compression stockings
Compression stockings are available from most pharmacies and can help by applying pressure to the legs. This aids the muscles and veins to move blood toward the heart.
A study from 2018 found that people who used knee-high compression stockings with a pressure of 18 to 21 mmHg for one week, reported a reduction in the pain and aching associated with varicose veins.
Compression stockings can be found in pharmacies or online stores.
3. Plant extracts
A review study from 2006 suggests that horse chestnut extract, Aesculus hippocastanum L., may help to reduce leg pain, heaviness, and itching in people with chronic venous insufficiency, which is a major cause of varicose veins. Aesculus hippocastanum L. is available to purchase in health stores and online.
A review study from 2010 reports that sea pine extract, Pinus maritima, and Butcher’s broom extract, Ruscus aculeatus, may both reduce leg swelling, or edema, that is often associated with varicose veins. Ruscus aculeatus is available to purchase in health stores and online.
Plant extracts and essential oils should be diluted in carrier oils before being applied topically or used in a diffuser for aromatherapy.
4. Dietary changes
Share on PinterestPotassium-high foods, such as almonds and pistachio nuts, can help varicose veins by reducing water retention in the body.
Salty or sodium-rich foods can cause the body to retain water, so cutting down on salty food can minimize water retention. Foods high in potassium can help to reduce water retention.
Foods that are high in potassium include:
- almonds and pistachio nuts
- lentils and white beans
- leafy vegetables
- some fish, such as salmon and tuna
Foods with fiber help to keep the bowels moving and prevent constipation. This may be important, as straining can aggravate damaged valves or make them worse.
Foods that are high in fiber include:
- nuts, seeds, and legumes
- oats, wheat, and flaxseed
- whole-grain foods
People who are overweight are more likely to experience varicose veins, therefore, shedding any excess pounds can reduce the pressure on the veins and alleviate swelling and discomfort.
5. Eat more flavonoids
Adding foods that contain flavonoids may also help a person to shrink their varicose veins.
Flavonoids improve blood circulation, which will keep the blood flowing, and make it less likely to pool in the veins. They also help to reduce blood pressure in the arteries and can relax blood vessels, all of which can reduce varicose veins.
Foods that contain flavonoids include:
- vegetables, including onions, bell peppers, spinach, and broccoli
- citrus fruits and grapes, cherries, apples, and blueberries
6. Herbal remedies
According to the National Institute of Health, taking grape seed extract, Vitis vinifera, orally may help to reduce swelling in the lower legs and other symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency, though there is currently limited evidence for its effectiveness.
A person prescribed with blood-thinning medication should avoid taking grape seed extract, as a dietary supplement, as it can interact with the medication and increase the risk of bleeding.
7. Choose non-restrictive clothing
Wearing tight-fitting clothes can restrict blood flow. A person may find that their circulation is improved by wearing loose-fitting clothes that do not restrict the blood supply to the lower body.
Wearing flat shoes instead of high heels may also help with varicose veins in the legs.
8. Keep the legs elevated
Keeping the legs elevated, ideally at the same height as the heart or above it will help to improve circulation. This reduces the pressure in the leg veins and gravity will help the blood to flow smoothly back to the heart.
A person should aim to keep their legs elevated if they are going to be sitting down for long periods of time, such as during work or rest.
Gently massaging the affected areas can help to keep the blood moving through the veins. A person can use gentle massage oils or moisturizer for optimal effects.
It is crucial to avoid pressing directly onto the veins, however, as this may damage fragile tissues.
10. Keep moving
Avoid sitting for long periods of time. If a person has to sit for long periods of time for work, they should aim to get up and move around or change position frequently to keep the blood flowing smoothly.
Avoid sitting with crossed legs, as this can further restrict blood flow to the legs and feet, which may add to circulation problems.
2. Lifestyle changes. Good skin hygiene, weight loss (if needed), and walking can help treat varicose veins and spider veins.
3. Sclerotherapy. This procedure, which has been available since the 1930s, is another treatment option. This procedure uses a highly concentrated saline (salt) solution or a specially made detergent that is injected directly into the vein, causing the vein to disappear gradually over three to six weeks. The procedure is simple, relatively inexpensive, and can be performed in an outpatient setting.
4. Endovenous laser treatment is a procedure in which a small laser fiber is inserted into the vein. Pulses of laser light are delivered inside the vein, which causes the vein to collapse. The procedure is done as an outpatient under local anesthesia.
5. Radiofrequency occlusion. A small catheter is inserted into the vein. The catheter delivers radiofrequency energy to the vein wall, causing it to heat, collapse, and seal shut. The procedure is generally done in an outpatient or office setting, sometimes under local anesthesia.
6. Surgery. Surgical techniques to treat varicose veins include ligation (tying off of a vein) and stripping (removal of a long segment of vein). Another procedure, ambulatory phlebectomy, allows for the removal of large surface veins through very small incisions that do not need stitches. Surgery may be performed using local, spinal, or general anesthesia. Most patients return home the same day as the procedure. Surgery is generally used to treat large varicose veins.
7. Lasers and intense pulsed light. Surface laser or intense pulsed light treatments, such as Vasculight and PhotoDerm, are other options. These devices use heat energy to selectively damage or destroy abnormal veins. An advantage of these treatments is that no needles or sclerosing solutions are required; however, there may be some minor discomfort. Side effects do occur, including discoloration or staining and blister formation. The results are often disappointing.
Not everybody with varicose or spider veins has pain or other symptoms. They might want the veins removed, however, for cosmetic reasons.
Although we tend to think of them as a woman’s problem, both men and women develop varicose veins — those bulgy veins that appear lumpy and dark in color (usually blue or purple). In fact, according to the Department of Health and Human Science, about 50 percent to 55 percent of women and 40 percent to 45 percent of men in the U.S. suffer from some sort of vein problem, with varicose veins affecting about half of all people 50 years and older. (1)
They’re a common problem among older or pregnant women due to hormonal influences, and they tend to develop over time as someone ages and veins lose their natural elasticity due to rising levels of inflammation.
Women are at least twice as likely as men to develop varicose veins, but people of any age and race can be affected. (2) They’re usually most noticeable on — and therefore the biggest concern for — people with light skin.
There are a number of different ways to prevent and treat varicose veins, ranging from expensive surgeries to using natural essential oils. Before turning to irritating prescription creams or expensive laser surgeries — which aren’t always effective and should really be considered last-resort options — it’s a good idea to try varicose veins home remedies first to lower the visibility of bulging veins without much risk involved.
Natural Varicose Veins Treatment
According to a 2012 report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “treatment options for varicose veins range from conservative (e.g., medications, compression stockings, lifestyle changes) to minimally invasive (e.g., sclerotherapy or endoluminal ablation), to invasive (surgical techniques), to hybrid (combination of ≥1 therapies).” (3)
A 2007 report published in the Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons of England found that nerve injuries following varicose vein surgeries are common and that more than half the patients treated will develop some recurrent varicose sites within 10 years of surgery. (4)
Varicose veins are always a symptom of an underlying venous insufficiency disorder. This is true whether or not you experiences other symptoms like pain and swelling. If you visit a dermatologist or doctor to talk about treatment options, you’ll likely be advised to make certain lifestyle modifications first, before surgery or other treatments are even considered. These can greatly help decrease blood pooling in your veins, while also offering many other perks, like more energy, clearer skin, better heart health and improved digestion. And the best part is that natural remedies pose little to no risk and are far less expensive than surgeries too.
Here are five natural treatments for varicose veins:
Regularly getting exercise is one of the best things you can do to improve blood flow and lower inflammation, which you can add to the extensive list of exercise benefits. The National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute states that sitting (especially with poor posture — like forward head posture — or your legs crossed) or standing for long period of time without moving around much is associated with an increased risk for varicose veins and other forms of blood pooling. (5)
When you stay stagnant for too long, it’s harder for your veins to pump blood efficiently back to your heart and fight the effects of gravity. Exercise is also a great way to help balance hormones naturally, lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight, and lower blood pressure, which can all contribute to varicose veins.
The Carolina Vascular Institute recommends preventing varicose veins by performing leg lifts, calf raises, bicycle legs and side lunges to strengthen and stretch the veins around the legs. (6) Low-impact exercises, such as walking, swimming and bicycling, are also ideal for varicose vein sufferers since they alleviate pressure.
If you experience pain when starting to exercise, take it slowly and try icing or heating sore muscles after a workout. You can also elevate your legs to help decrease swelling and pain, or try compression stockings to create gentle pressure up the leg that keeps blood from accumulating.
2. Maintaining a Healthy Weight
People who are overweight are more likely to develop varicose veins, especially overweight women and elderly people. Carrying excess body weight puts higher amounts of pressure on your veins and can contribute to inflammation or reflux, especially in the largest superficial veins, such as the saphenous vein in the legs.
According to a report published by the Huffington Post about the connection between obesity and varicose veins, for overweight people varicose veins are often more difficult to assess and treat because they commonly go unnoticed until they progress to be more inflamed and larger in size (up to four or five centimeters long, deep inside the leg). (7)
3. Essential Oils for Balancing Hormones
Many different essential oils are beneficial for improving blood flow while also lowering inflammation and hormonal imbalances. One of the best for specifically treating vein problems is cypress oil, which has the ability to increase circulation and support the circulatory system. Try rubbing five drops of cypress essential oil on the problematic area twice daily for several weeks. If you experience muscle aches, swelling or skin blisters, try using other diluted essential oils like peppermint, tea tree and lavender oil in small amounts to soothe problem areas.
4. An Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Certain foods help reverse inflammation and improve blood flow, making it possible to heal varicose veins faster and prevent future ones from forming. A poor diet — high in things like trans fats, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods — can contribute to arterial damage, low circulation, blood pressure problems, hormonal imbalances and weight gain. Many of these foods are also high-sodium foods, which is dehydrating, and contain toxins that can worsen swelling in varicose veins.
Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods for reducing the appearance of varicose veins include:
- High-fiber foods — Fiber helps improve heart health and is also necessary for healthy digestive functions. Eating 30–40 grams of fiber every day is a great way to prevent constipation, which can cause bloating and increased pressure on the veins around the abdomen and legs. High-fiber foods to eat include chia seeds and flaxseeds, (which are also omega-3 foods, which are anti-inflammatory), vegetables, fresh fruit, and soaked/sprouted legumes and ancient grains.
- High-antioxidant foods — Antioxidants, such as flavonoids (present in berries), vitamin C and vitamin E (both present in green veggies and citrus fruits), help strengthen veins, fight inflammation and improve arterial health. Vitamin E is known to help prevent blood clots, acts like a natural blood thinner and is tied to heart health. Vitamin C is a powerful anti-inflammatory and beneficial for skin health.
- Natural diuretics — Doctors sometimes use diuretic pills to help increase urination and reduce water retention or swelling. You can get the same effect safely by consuming things like fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, basil), fennel, dandelion greens, cucumber, asparagus and celery.
- Magnesium-rich foods — Blood pooling , blood pressure problems and leg cramps (like restless leg syndrome) are warning signs of deficiencies in electrolytes like potassium and magnesium. To overcome these symptoms, increase intake of things like leafy greens, avocado, bananas, cruciferous veggies and sweet potatoes.
- Spicy foods — Foods with spices such as cayenne pepper or curry help heat up the body and get blood flowing, adding to healthy circulation and even appetite/weight control.
- Wild-caught fish — Fish and seafood like wild salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and tuna provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for proper blood flow.
- Apple cider vinegar (ACV) — ACV improves circulation in the vein walls and is an effective anti-inflammatory. Many people find that using ACV along with witch hazel on varicose veins helps lower swelling and and improves their appearance within just a few weeks.
5. Natural Herbs Including Bilberry and Horse Chestnut
Bilberry and horse chestnut, two plants that are thousands of years old and popular folk remedies, have been found to be both effective and safe for treating varicose veins. Both have been studied for chronic venous insufficiency that causes pain, ankle swelling, feelings of heaviness, itching and nighttime leg cramping. (8, 9) They’re also beneficial for lowering water retention, circulatory problems, swelling, diarrhea, PMS cramps and other skin-related conditions.
The fruit of the bilberry plant can be eaten or made into extracts or tea. The horse chestnut tree (sometimes called buckeye) produces seeds, leaves, bark and flowers that can be found in extract, cream/lotion, tea or capsule form. Look for horse chestnut seed extract standardized to contain 16 percent to 20 percent aescin (escin), the active ingredient. Horse chestnut should be taken in doses around 100 milligrams once daily. I recommend taking bilberry in doses of about 160 milligrams, twice daily.
In addition, you can combine these with butcher’s broom (200 milligrams daily), grape seed extract (200 milligrams daily) and vitamin E (400 IU daily) to help boost blood flow, protect veins and achieve natural blood-thinning effects safely. University of Maryland Medical Center also recommends increasing intake of rutin, a type of bioflavonoid that may protect the walls of veins and help them work better. Bioflavonoids help relieve swelling, aching and pain from varicose veins and can be found in grape seed, pine bark, cranberry, hawthorn, blueberry and other plants that provide antioxidants like vitamin C. (10)
Varicose Veins vs. Spider Veins: Are They the Same Thing?
While people often use these two terms interchangeably, these two skin conditions are actually somewhat different. Their appearances are not exactly the same, although their causes are somewhat similar.
Spider veins (telangiectasias) usually look like fine lines or web-like shapes. Some people describe spider veins as “starbust clusters” since they tend to show up as many dark dots concentrated together in one area, mostly on the surface of the skin.
Just like varicose veins, spider veins normally show up on the legs, backs of the thighs, calves, ankles and feet. Spider veins are usually smaller than varicose veins and not as painful or likely to cause symptoms since they’re located on the surface skin layers. Another similar condition is called reticular veins, which are larger than spider veins but smaller than varicose veins.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
The reason varicose veins appear blue is because they hold deoxygenated blood. They develop on the legs most often (especially the thighs and calves), but since any vein can become varicose, they also show up on other parts of the body at times, including the face, stomach or lower back. (11)
Who gets varicose veins most? According to the Interventional Radiology & Surgery Department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, the people most likely to develop varicose veins are: (12)
- older people, specially those over the age of 40
- people who are overweight or obese
- people who have jobs that require them to sit or stand for many hours, allowing blood to “pool” in the legs or blood flow to slow down
- those with low levels physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle
- people with poor circulation and high levels of inflammation, caused by things like a poor diet, lack of exercise, injuries to the limbs, hormonal imbalances and high amounts of stress
- pregnant women or those who have recently given birth
- teens going through puberty, women on birth control pills or women going through menopause
- those with family members who have had varicose veins
- people with light skin who have experienced high levels of sun exposure and skin damage
In addition to developing unsightly veins, people with varicose veins sometimes struggle with symptoms like fatigue, muscle aches and “heavy limbs.” (13)
Most dermatologists will tell you that there’s no singular cause for varicose veins, although the mechanism by which they develop is well-understood. The underlying reason that varicose veins form is because veins become stretched and filled with stagnant blood. As the Vascular Disease Foundation describes it, “Under the pressure of gravity these veins continue to expand and, in time, they may become longer, twisty, pouched, thickened and painful.” (14)
Normally blood travels from the heart around the body to various cells through a network of arteries and capillaries. It then returns to the heart through veins, which normally only move blood in one direction. Movement of muscles helps squeeze veins, which pumps blood back to the heart (one reason regular exercise is beneficial for circulation).
Veins contain one-way valves that have a built-in mechanism in place to help blood from flowing in the wrong direction, but in varicose veins a portion of the blood starts moving backward, which causes swelling. Weakness in the valves of veins contributes to poor circulation, although it’s not entirely understood why some people’s valves malfunction more than others. As blood starts pooling in varicose veins, the walls of the veins become stiff and lose some of their natural elasticity and ability to pump blood back to the heart effectively. (15)
Because varicose veins form where valves stop working properly, they often show up around deep or perforated veins. The great saphenous vein, sometimes also called the long saphenous vein, is a large, subcutaneous vein within the legs that is one of the most common to trigger varicose veins. This problem of blood pooling in certain veins is called venous insufficiency, and it winds up expanding the vein as blood stays stagnant and the vein hardens.
Some of the underlying reasons this process of blood pooling might occur is because of risk factors like:
- hormonal changes, such as pregnancy or menopause: Studies suggest that women are more likely to develop varicose veins than men due to hormonal effects. The belief is that female-dominant hormones tend to relax the veins more often and increase the likelihood of blood leakage, especially during pregnancy, puberty, when taking birth control pills or during the transition into menopause. Pregnant women also produce an increased amount of blood to support the growing baby and are therefore susceptible to blood pooling in the legs or near the stomach as it tries to fight against the force of gravity and pressure.
- structural (congenital) abnormalities of the veins
- inflamed veins or blood clots within the veins
- injuries to the veins, heart disease or an obstruction that blocks normal blood flow
- weight gain: Circulation can slow when someone gains weight if that person also experiences increased inflammation, plus the veins come under more pressure when a higher body weight needs to be carried around.
Are varicose veins a serious problem and something to worry about?
Most of the time, varicose veins won’t cause symptoms and are a cosmetic issue, not one that’s likely going to contribute to more serious health problems. The amount of blood that pools in the veins is small, and most blood is still being sent back to the heart. However, you can think of them as a warning sign that something is impairing normal blood flow.
In some cases, varicose veins can actually rupture and cause complications like open sores on the skin and swelling. When painful symptoms are present, the most common are muscles aches or swelling in the ankles and legs, which can make it hard to get comfortable sleep, work, exercise and walk normally.
Some people, especially pregnant women, also wind up developing heaviness or fullness in the legs, restlessness, fatigue, pain, cramps, skin ulcers and itching, and thickening and discoloration of skin. There’s also a small risk that varicose veins will lead to blood clotting (thrombophlebitis), in which case immediate treatment will be necessary.
Final Thoughts on Varicose Veins
- According to the Department of Health and Human Science, about 50 percent to 55 percent of women and 40 percent to 45 percent of men in the U.S. suffer from some sort of vein problem, with varicose veins affecting about half of all people 50 years and older.
- Women are at least twice as likely as men to develop varicose veins, but people of any age and race can be affected.
- Natural varicose veins treatment includes exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, essential oils for balancing hormones, an anti-inflammatory diet, and natural herbs like bilberry and horse chestnut.
- As part of an anti-inflammatory diet, the best foods to eat to treat varicose veins include high-fiber foods, high-antioxidant foods, natural diuretics, magnesium-rich foods, spicy foods, wild-caught fish and apple cider vinegar.
- Just like varicose veins, spider veins normally show up on the legs, backs of the thighs, calves, ankles and feet. Spider veins are usually smaller than varicose veins and not as painful or likely to cause symptoms since they’re located on the surface skin layers.
Read Next: 20 Unique Apple Cider Vinegar Uses and Benefits
Can Varicose Veins Be Cured?
Technically, varicose veins can’t be cured, in the sense of “repaired” or “fixed.” The condition that causes them, chronic venous insufficiency or CVI, does permanent damage to the tiny valves that control the flow of blood back to the heart and lungs. At present, even given the wonders of modern endoscopic surgery, there is no way to go into these veins with a microscopic scalpel and repair or replace them the way you might fix the faulty valve on a water pump. Similarly, there is currently no proven pharmaceutical or “natural” way to chemically reverse the damage done by CVI. Veins that have become varicose due to CVI are stuck being damaged. So the Bad News answer is “No.”
Fortunately, there is no need to do microsurgery to “fix” varicose veins. It’s faster, easier, safer, and much more efficient to simply remove them. So the Good News answer is “Yes.”
Most people do not require lifelong treatment of their veins. Often a combination of endovascular ablation and foam sclerotherapy is sufficient to treat evident varicose veins and a high satisfaction rate for many years.
Inflammation is permanent for varicose veins
How do vein doctors now remove varicose veins?
In your mother’s or grandmother’s time, the only way to remove veins that had become damaged by CVI was a surgical process called “vein stripping,” and it was as onerous as the name implies. It involved hospitals and general anaesthesia, and the recovery time after such a procedure was long and painful.
These days “vein stripping” is rarely done, and it’s due to the aforementioned advances in endoscopic surgery. Doctors at The Vein Institute use gentle, minimally invasive methods to insert a tiny catheter (smaller than the needle used to give you a flu shot) into the veins, and then use a number of methods to cause the damaged veins to close, and collapse.
This is OK, and doesn’t damage your circulation, because your venous system is naturally “self-correcting.” When a vein is closed, “neighbouring” veins in the vicinity take over the task of routing deoxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs for rejuvenation. The now-closed veins are naturally absorbed by surrounding tissue, and over a period of weeks disappear. Your overall circulation actually improves when varicose veins are removed, because the proper “one-way” flow that good health depends on has been restored.
How we treat varicose veins at The Vein Institute
First, we perform a full medical examination, using state-of-the-art venous duplex ultrasound to determine the nature and severity of the varicose veins themselves. If the swollen veins are small and the patient is so far not experiencing any of the side effects of varicose veins sufficiently to bother them, we don’t necessarily recommend vein removal unless the patient wants it for cosmetic reasons. Unpleasant symptoms of small varicose veins can effectively be “handled” for many people by changes to diet, exercise patterns, and lifestyle, and by wearing compression stockings to improve circulation. But none of these provide a permanent solution, and none actually eliminate the swollen veins to improve your appearance.
For a more permanent solution – both to the impaired circulation and side effects caused by varicose veins and to their unattractiveness – we can recommend, depending on the individual case, of course, one of a number of other proven methodologies. One is a technique called ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy, in which we insert a tiny catheter into a varicose vein and then inject a sealant that makes the walls of the vein stick to each other, causing the entire vein to collapse.
Another technique we use is called radiofrequency ablation, which uses the heat of radiofrequency waves to close diseased veins rather than chemical agents. In addition, The Vein Institute is one of the pioneers in Australia of a modern non-surgical technique called medical superglue that uses a medical adhesive to safely and effectively close varicose veins. Benefits of this method are that the medical superglue sets within minutes, and there is no need for the prolonged healing process associated with other treatments.
All of the methods cited above are “walk in, walk out” procedures performed on an outpatient basis in the comfort of our clinic. They take under an hour and require little recovery time. To find out more, give us a call at 1300 535 017. We will be happy to answer your questions and help you find the varicose vein treatment that is best for you.
About two years ago, I was shaving my legs when I noticed a series of faint blue lines twisting around my thigh. Of course, the first thing I did was go to Dr. Google to find out how to get rid of spider veins. Some of the recommended home remedies include ginger tea, massage, and even exercise. Here’s the honest truth: That’s all BS. Visible veins aren’t something you can fix at home.
I talked to dermatologists and surgeons who specialize in treating spider veins and varicose veins (the larger, raised veins in the leg). What I learned is that these visible veins that typically appear on the legs are hereditary (thanks, Mom), but they can also be a sign of a much deeper vein problem that no home remedy is likely to fix. Here are the facts about visible veins and how to get rid of them.
There are two types of visible veins—spider veins and varicose veins.
Spider veins are the most common type of visible vein. “Spider veins are really small superficial veins that are in the outer layer of skin between the dermis and epidermis, so you can see them,” Christopher Hollingsworth, M.D., a vein surgeon at NYC Surgical Associates, tells SELF. “If you live long enough, most people are going to get them.” Bummer. These veins get their name because they look like thin, weblike blue and purple lines on the legs.
Varicose veins are larger veins that are deeper in the body. “You won’t see them as a discoloration, you’ll see them when they get so stretched out that they kind of bulge,” says Dr. Hollingsworth. Varicose and spider veins are connected. Patients who have varicose veins almost always have spider veins, too. However, some people get spider veins and never have a problem with varicose veins.
To understand why these visible veins happen, you’ve got to understand how blood flows through the body.
Get ready for a quick anatomy lesson. Your heart pumps blood to your entire body through your blood vessels. Blood circulates outward towards the extremities (legs, arms, head) through the arteries and back inward to the heart through your veins.
“Think of veins as being a hose that flows from bottom up toward your heart,” says dermatologist Alicia Barba, M.D., of Barba Dermatology. “And there’s a little valve. When they work well, the blood shoots up and the valve closes. When it doesn’t work, the blood falls back down instead of moving north.” When blood flows in the wrong direction because of a valve incompetence, it can get backed up in the veins of the legs. This causes spider veins and varicose veins. “About 60 percent of people with spider veins will have an underlying venous insufficiency behind it, and about 99 percent of varicose veins are due to venous insufficiency,” says Dr. Hollingsworth. (Doctors don’t know what causes the 40 percent of spider veins not due to insufficiency, but there’s likely a hereditary link.)
The underlying causes of vein issues are varied—some are preventable or reversible, while others aren’t.
Chronic venous insufficiency can be hereditary, which you have no control over. It can also be caused by things that put pressure on the veins like spending a lot of time on your feet, having a desk job where you sit all day, obesity, or pregnancy.
If you have a job where you are standing still for long periods of time, gravity is at work pulling the blood back down toward the legs, causing the veins to get stretched out and the valves to weaken over time. If you sit all day at your job, you can also start to see visible veins because there is a lack of muscle movement. The muscles in the leg help the veins push the blood back up toward the heart. Note: That rumor that crossing your legs can cause spider veins isn’t true, so go ahead and cross ’em if you like—just make sure that you get out of your chair and move around during the day to get the blood pumping.
Monday, December 2nd, 2019
You’re sitting at work and feel a tingly, numb sensation coursing through your legs. Your legs are a bit cool to the touch and your skin looks a bit pale or dry. You try to roll your ankles, stretch your legs, and walk, but it doesn’t fully go away. Later at night, you are laying in bed when you feel a restlessness deep within your legs. If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, you may have felt the effects of poor circulation.
What Does Having Poor Circulation Mean?
Your circulation system is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to different parts of your body. When blood flow to a specific part of your body is reduced, you may experience symptoms of poor circulation. Poor circulation is most commonly diagnosed in your extremities, such as your arms, legs, and feet. Symptoms of poor circulation are often undiagnosed and ignored, due to the fact that many people think their pain or discomfort is just attributed to aging.
Having poor circulation is not a condition in itself; rather, it is commonly a result of other, underlying health issues. This is why it’s crucial to treat the root cause, rather than just the symptoms of poor circulation.
What Leads to Poor Circulation in the Legs?
Underling venous insufficiency, also known as vein disease, is the most common cause of poor circulation. This common condition develops when vein valves become damaged, allowing blood to flow in the opposite direction. Healthy blood flow travels through your veins from your legs up towards your heart. Diseased vein valves allow blood to pool, which causes decreased circulation. Over time, the blood that pools within your legs can cause painful symptoms, inflammation, and put you at risk for serious health conditions.
Causes and Risk Factors of Poor Circulation
What Can Poor Circulation Cause?
If you’re struggling with symptoms of poor circulation such as:
- Cool feet or legs: Reduced blood flow in your feet causes them to feel colder than other parts of your body.
- Swollen legs, ankles, or feet: When your veins can’t push blood upward, it can collect in your legs. This blood pooling puts extra pressure on the area, causing fluid buildup and swelling.
- Muscle cramping: Inconsistent blood flow may create muscle aches and pains. This can potentially lead to Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) as well.
- Numbness: Poor circulation may cause you to experience a tingling or numbing sensation in your thighs, calves, or feet.
- Changes in skin color: A lack of blood flow can change the color of the skin on your feet and legs.
- Leg wounds or ulcers: A break in the skin on your leg can become larger from increased blood pressure and take a long time to heal or may not heal at all.
- Visible veins: When blood pools in your veins due to poor circulation, it puts pressure on the veins and causes them to bulge. This may cause varicose or spider veins to develop and become raised.
Not only can poor circulation cause painful or uncomfortable symptoms, but it can also increase your risk for a few different health conditions. Left untreated, lack of circulation can lead to slow or non-healing wounds to turn into venous ulcers, the development of blood clots, or even a condition known as May-Thurner Syndrome (MTS).
In many cases, poor circulation is not life-threatening; however, it’s important to get underlying venous insufficiency treated to avoid your symptoms worsening. Many patients who have ignored their pain, have shared that poor circulation had an increasingly negative impact on their daily lives,. Their pain or discomfort eventually caused them to avoid activities they once loved and daily chores that need to be taken care of.
How Can I Reverse Poor Circulation?
If you are currently living with poor circulation, there is no need to worry. Reversing poor circulation caused by underlying vein disease can be easy in a few steps:
- Elevate your legs as much as possible.
- Wear comfortable-fitting shoes that do not fit tightly around the feet or ankles.
- Avoid sitting or standing for long periods. Instead, mix up your day by doing quick exercises between intervals of sitting or standing.
- Learn how vein treatment can help effectively relieve your leg pain or symptoms. Treating diseased veins can restore your circulation by rerouting blood flow to healthier, stronger veins.
- Move around as much as you possibly can when you are traveling either in a car or by plane.
Improving circulation starts at getting vein treatment. Treating vein disease early can help restore healthy circulation, prevent future health risks, and improve your mobility. After vein treatment, the above activities such as exercising and elevating your legs, can help keep your blood moving.
Reversing Poor Circulation Through Vein Treatment
Treating the root of the issue is important in lowering your risk of chronic development of varicose or spider veins. Many people tend to ignore their symptoms or wait for them to improve on their own. Even if your exercise every day, vein disease can still be present. Not until you treat damaged vein valves will you be able to improve circulation and notice the results.
Treating underlying venous insufficiency is important in order to prevent serious conditions like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and venous ulcers.
At your consultation, your doctor will provide you with a proper diagnosis and discuss which treatment option will work best for you. Feel free to give us a call at 888.768.3467 or click the button below to get started to healthier legs and improved circulation today.
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Share: Categories: Causes and Risk Factors, Prevention, Vein Disease Symptoms, Vein Health Awareness
Varicose veins are a common problem affecting both men and women. They are essentially a damaged vein which then forms a visible mass, usually on the backs of the legs. Spider veins are a smaller form of the same problem, often having blue, red or greenish coloring and appearing anywhere on the body, including the face.
These veins are not only a source of embarrassment for people who wish to keep them hidden, but they can also cause physical discomfort. People with varicose veins may begin to feel a dull pain or heaviness in the legs, and may also experience cramps.
Some of the main causes of varicose veins include pregnancy (when the body’s blood volume increases by one fifth along with higher estrogen levels), chronic constipation (when pushing puts extra strain on the valves in the leg veins over time) and inactivity (due to a lack of blood-pumping support from the calf muscles).
The conventional treatment for varicose veins is sclerotherapy, which involves the injection of an inflammatory substance into the vein site. This causes the vein to shrivel and withdraw, so it is no longer visible. This procedure functions only as a spot treatment and does not prevent further unsightly and painful veins from arising.
Recent research from King’s College London has revealed that the traditional understanding of the formation of varicose veins is somewhat flawed.
It was believed that varicose veins occurred as a result of a failure of the valves on the ends of blood vessels, usually in the legs. When the small valve fails, blood pools in that area and the walls of the valve are distended into varicose veins.
Some people have better genes than others when it comes to this particular issue, so those with weak valve genes will inevitably end up with unsightly veins, end of story.
However, the new British research indicates that these genes can actually be turned on and off via an epigenetic process. This is where genes can be made to either exert an effect, or lie dormant, based on environmental and internal influences.
The researchers reported that the “weak valve” genes causing varicose veins can be turned off and the damage largely reversed by ensuring that there is more regular flow through the veins.
Therefore, it is important to incorporate the following preventative measures to turn off that varicose-vein promoting gene:
- Practice working or resting in different positions throughout the day, so that blood keeps moving and does not pool for several hours of the day. If you work in an office, this means standing often, walking around, sitting in a different position or in a different chair whenever possible.
- Spend five minutes each night with your legs straight up against a wall before going to bed. This is a very relaxing position that allows blood to drain from the legs so that the veins can recalibrate. It also helps relieve back and pelvic pain, and promote restful sleep.
- Rather than sitting for nine hours a day and then blasting your body at the gym for just one hour, try adjusting your schedule to fit in a few, shorter periods of exercise. This is a healthier pattern involving more constant or intermittent movement.
- Taking the blood flow and circulatory system from entirely stagnant to suddenly pumping at full capacity can actually damage blood vessels and contribute to varicose veins, and even blood clots and heart problems. Try gently raising your heart rate and circulation several times throughout the day, instead.
- Eating foods rich in fiber, vitamin C and bioflavonoids are a good choice for strengthening blood vessels. Examples are blueberries and raspberries.
- Essential oils on a cold compress applied to the skin can help soothe inflamed blood vessels and improve circulation. Good oils to use are cypress, lemon and bergamot. Herbal teas can also help with constipation.
- Savory and spicy foods such as ginger, garlic and cayenne pepper help to reduce blood clotting.
- Avocados are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin E and glutathione, a compound that protects tissues against oxidative damage.
- Flavoring your foods with rosemary can protect blood vessel integrity through its beneficial compounds ursolic acid and rosmarinic acid.
It’s easy to upgrade your diet and work in a little bit more movement throughout the day so that you can avoid unsightly varicose and spider veins. These healthy habits are sure to improve other parts of your life and well-being as well!
Try these quick workout ideas to get you moving.
—The Alternative Daily