If you suspect you may have varicose veins, you might want to think twice before getting a massage.
Massage therapy is a great way to unlock tight muscles, lower stress levels, and boost circulation. It’s fair to think that massage can help reduce the pain and cramping from varicose veins. However, a leg massage could do more harm than good if you suffer from vein disease!
At best, a massage provides only temporary relief from the symptoms of varicose veins. At worst, a massage could turn dangerous if you have a blood clot deep in the leg vein, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). A massage could dislodge the clot, which could travel to the lungs and cause a potentially life-threatening pulmonary embolism (PE).
If you have varicose veins or suspect you might have vein disease, you should hold off on scheduling that massage until you have your veins checked and treated by a qualified vein doctor.
How to spot DVT
A 2018 study found that patients with varicose veins stand a greater chance of developing DVT. Varicose veins form when tiny valves in the vein lose their strength to pump blood up to the heart. As the blood pools in the veins and stretches the vein walls outward, blood cells cluster together, increasing the chances of a blood clot forming.
The symptoms of DVT and varicose veins overlap to a degree. Both cause swelling and pain in the legs, but DVT also causes skin discolorations, warm skin to the touch, and tenderness. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your local vein specialist as soon as possible. They can then perform an ultrasound or other imaging tests to confirm a blood clot. DVT treatments typically involve blood thinners or clot-busting medications and therapeutics.
Massage therapy and DVT
As mentioned earlier, massage therapy that focuses on the leg muscles could cause a blood clot to break away and head towards the lungs, causing a PE. Symptoms include rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, chest pain, lightheadedness, and coughing up blood. At the first sign of a PE, seek immediate medical intervention in the emergency room. No massage is worth the dangers of a PE!
Contrary to common belief, massage therapy will not eliminate varicose veins. Although a massage may temporarily alleviate symptoms, the only proven cure for varicose veins is to undergo a minimally invasive surgical procedure such as:
Sclerotherapy. A safe, saline-based solution is injected into the vein, irritating the vein walls and forcing the vein to close. The treated vein is absorbed into the body as blood diverts to healthier veins.
Thermal Ablation. During this procedure, a thin catheter is guided through the damaged vein, emitting heat from either a laser or radiofrequency waves to destroy the vein.
Ambulatory Phlebectomy. The doctor removes the varicose vein through two tiny incisions. Because the incisions are so small, you’ll leave with nothing more than just a band-aid!
Schedule your vein appointment today
Treat your vein disease today and enjoy a well-deserved massage without worrying about varicose veins or DVT! Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) operates four convenient locations in New Mexico. Each clinic is led by an experienced physician who will thoroughly examine your veins and tailor a treatment plan.
Michael Harding, MD, is board-certified in vascular medicine, cardiology, and internal medicine. Chandran Vedamanikam, MD, is a board-certified phlebologist in venous and lymphatic medicine and family practice. Schedule a consultation online or call 1-800-FIX-LEGS for more information or to schedule an appointment.
801 Encino Place NE #C-12,
Albuquerque, NM 87102
500 E Walnut Street
Deming, NM 88030
2801 E. Missouri Avenue
Las Cruces, NM 88011
2220 Grande Boulevard SE
Rio Rancho, NM 87124