Finding Pain Relief for Your Varicose Veins
Are your varicose veins causing you pain? Try these at-home remedies to reduce discomfort.
According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, some 35 percent of Americans will develop varicose veins during their lifetime. Age, weight, heredity, pregnancy, and a sedentary lifestyle all play a role in deciding who is affected by these bulging ropes of blue and purple veins that show up on the legs and feet.
For most people, varicose veins are a cosmetic nuisance and don’t cause any noticeable discomfort. But for other varicose vein patients, the pain, swelling, throbbing, and itching of varicose veins makes everyday activities nearly unbearable and interferes with sleep. If you are one of the many people who have these symptoms, you can find relief with self-care remedies and lifestyle changes.
How to Reduce the Discomfort of Varicose Veins
The circulatory system depends on arteries and veins to move blood from the heart to the extremities and back again. To do this, veins are equipped with small, one-way flaps, or valves, whose sole function is to push the blood back to the heart. Damaged or weakened valves cannot fight the downward gravity of the blood flow, which allows the blood to pool in the vein. The vein then extends from under the skin and becomes visible as a varicose vein. Sometimes, there may not be any visible signs of varicose veins, but the pain is apparent because the affected vein is deep within the leg.
In those cases, practicing some at-home care brings relief. Here are five steps to reduce your discomfort:
- Elevate Your Legs. If you work at a job where you sit or stand all day, you may feel the symptoms of varicose veins more acutely when at home. The trick is to reverse the downward blood flow and help the valves do their job. For 15 minutes a day, raise your legs above your heart. You can do this by propping your legs on a pillow or placing your legs on a table as you recline. This action unclogs the veins by prompting the blood to flow upward to the heart and not slide back into the vein.
- Get Moving. Much like elevation, exercise gets the blood flowing in the right direction. Exercise doesn’t mean an hour-long strenuous workout. Simply walking or flexing your ankles as you sit or stand strengthens the calf muscles that support the veins as they work to pump blood to the heart.
- Drink Water. When our muscles don’t get enough hydration, they don’t receive the blood they need to function and, therefore, cannot support the veins. Drinking plenty of water daily aids circulation and maintains blood flow. Just be sure to avoid dehydrating liquids like alcohol that dilate the veins and increase their workload.
- Avoid Hot Temperatures. You may notice your symptoms become more bothersome during the warm weather months. That’s because hot temperatures dilate the veins as the body loses water, which places an extra burden on veins from increased blood flow. To reduce pain, avoid intense midday sunlight and hot tubs, and bathe your legs in cold water to tighten up the veins and reduce swelling.
- Wear Compression Stockings. These tight elastic garments compress the legs veins and provide additional support to push the blood upward. Available in both drugstores and by prescription, compression stockings should be slipped on the first thing in the morning and worn all day to keep swelling at a minimum.
Is it Time to Treat Your Painful Varicose Veins?
Whether painful or not, your varicose veins should be examined by a vein specialist to determine if you need treatment to improve your vein health and prevent more serious problems. While at-home remedies provide temporary relief, the only permanent fix for varicose veins is surgery. The vascular doctors at the Center for Vein Restoration will recommend either conservative treatment methods to manage discomfort, or suggest a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that permanently eliminates the visible signs and discomfort of varicose veins. Make your appointment today.