What Causes Varicose Veins Around the Ankles?
Varicose veins appear most often on the legs, but they can also develop on the ankles and feet — and can be extremely uncomfortable.
When most people think of varicose veins, they think of gnarled, bulging veins on the legs, particularly on the calves. Yet that’s not the only place varicose veins can appear. In some cases, varicose veins can arise on the ankles and feet.
If you have varicose veins on your ankles or feet, you’ve likely experienced the common symptoms of varicose veins, including pain, itching, and throbbing. However, experiencing those symptoms around the feet and ankles can be even more bothersome than on the legs. That’s because the discomfort can make simple tasks like walking and putting on shoes extremely difficult.
What’s more, like varicose veins on the legs, varicose veins on the feet and ankles can lead to even more serious medical problems such as skin ulcers, bleeding, and possibly blood clots if not treated promptly.
How Varicose Veins on the Ankles Happen
Varicose veins develop on the ankles and feet for the same reason they emerge on the calves. Tiny valves in the veins that are supposed to push blood back to the heart malfunction, allowing blood to build up within the vein. Unable to hold this excess blood, the vein wall is stretched to the point where it becomes visible as an enlarged purple-blue varicose vein.
Varicose veins can occur anywhere along the leg. Because veins in the feet and ankles contend with the greatest force of gravity as they struggle to push blood back to the heart, veins in those parts of the body may be even more susceptible to becoming varicose veins. Other risk factors for developing varicose veins in the ankles or feet include:
- Obesity. Being overweight or obese increases the stress on already overburdened veins in the ankles or feet.
- Prolonged Standing. When you stand for long periods day after day, blood flow can slow, which can eventually cause varicose veins to pop up around the ankles or feet.
How to Treat Varicose Veins on the Ankles and Feet
With some simple at-home remedies or minimally invasive surgeries, varicose veins around the ankles and feet can be treated or even eliminated. These are six methods you can consider to ease the pain of varicose veins:
- Exercise. Although the thought of working out with painful, swollen ankles and feet sounds counterintuitive, exercise is actually the best way to minimize the discomfort. You don’t necessarily need to start a rigorous exercise program; a daily brisk walk is all that is necessary to energize calf muscles that then help veins push blood along in the veins. Stretching exercises like yoga are also good choices.
- Elevate Your Legs. Propping up your legs on a stack of pillows or against the wall counteracts the force of gravity and allows blood to drain toward the heart. This reduces the pressure on veins, particularly in the feet and ankles, easing discomfort.
- Wear Compression Stockings. When veins aren’t working properly, they sometimes need extra help. The gentle compression these garments apply to the veins encourages blood flow in the right direction. Compression socks are available in drugstores, or by prescription if you require the highest grade of pressure.
- Eat a Vein-Healthy Diet. To promote good circulation and strengthen blood vessels, eat foods high in antioxidant vitamins C, E, and K. These would include fruits and vegetables like spinach, kale, blueberries, pineapples, onions, and oranges. Avoid foods loaded with refined sugars, salt, caffeine, and processed fats that contribute to sluggish blood flow.
- Switch to Flats. Wearing high heels, especially if your job requires you to stand, makes it harder for blood to circulate. Switch to flat-soled shoes that engage the calf muscles and improve circulation in the calves, feet, and ankles.
- Seek Medical Treatment. If the above methods don’t reduce pain and swelling, seek medical treatment. Current surgeries for varicose veins use only minimal amounts of anesthesia and are completed in brief outpatient procedures. A vein specialist can discuss your options.
Time to Heal Your Varicose Veins?
The physicians and staff at Center for Vein Restoration have helped thousands of patients overcome the pain of varicose veins. If you’re one of the millions of people experiencing the uncomfortable symptoms of varicose veins, we offer a variety of surgical and non-surgical alternatives to treat your varicose veins and improve your overall quality of life. Contact us today for an appointment.