A feeling of heaviness, particularly in the legs, is a symptom of an underlying condition. When your body feels heavy, you may find it difficult to walk and perform routine tasks. By the end of the day, you feel worn out. Luckily, once you know what's causing the feeling, you can find relief by addressing the root cause.
Known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), poor circulation in the leg veins is a common cause of feelings of heaviness and is the root cause of varicose veins. When the damaged veins don't transport blood back to the heart, the veins become filled with excess blood, leading to swelling, pain, and a feeling of heavy legs.
However, blocked blood flow can cause other symptoms besides heaviness. Learning what to look for can help you seek treatment before complications develop.
Why does your body feel heavy?
Your body may feel heavy for several reasons. Lymphedema, a disorder in which fluid accumulates in the lymph nodes, often leads to swollen, heavy legs. Compression therapy is the standard treatment for lymphedema.
Similarly, CVI causes swelling and a feeling of heaviness in the legs. Your heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood daily through your arteries and veins. The arteries circulate oxygenated blood to the body, while veins return the deoxygenated blood to the heart. Tiny valves in the veins open and close tightly to push blood upward against gravity. However, when those valves weaken, blood circulation from the veins to the heart slows. As blood pools in the vein, excess fluid leaks into the surrounding tissue, leading to intense swelling, pain, leg cramping, itching, and heaviness.
Risk factors for CVI include obesity, genetics, and a sedentary lifestyle. Because of hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause, women stand a greater chance of experiencing vein disease than men. An ultrasound exam by a vein specialist can confirm sluggish blood flow in your veins and propose tailored treatment options.
How can I make my body feel less heavy?
The good news is that you can make your legs and body feel lighter. Experienced vein doctors can treat CVI and varicose veins using conservative measures or minimally invasive procedures.
Here's what you can do to make your body feel less heavy:
Exercise. Low-impact aerobics such as walking, biking, and swimming engage the calf muscles to help the veins pump blood. Stretching is another good way to boost circulation.
Lower salt intake. Too much sodium can cause water retention, which leads to swelling.
Drink water. Staying hydrated regulates your blood pressure, which can cause the veins to swell. You can try flavoring it with fruits or herbs if you don’t like to drink plain water.
Try compression therapy. Just as with lymphedema, compression therapy can improve circulation and reduce swelling. Compression stockings, available in different strengths and styles, apply gentle pressure to the leg veins to keep the blood moving.
Elevate your legs. This simple activity drains the blood from the legs back to the heart. Raise your legs above your heart for 20 to 30 minutes daily to alleviate swelling and heaviness.
Get your varicose veins treated. Modern procedures are minimally invasive and can treat or remove the diseased vein, so blood diverts to healthy veins. If the swelling and heaviness result from varicose veins, you can undergo one of several effective treatments.
Get your veins treated in New Hampshire
Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) has two full-service vein clinics in New Hampshire to treat every stage of vein disease. Normand Miller, MD, FACS, RPVI, RVT, a board-certified vascular surgeon with years of experience treating vein disorders, leads both offices, so you and your veins will be in the best hands. If you’re experiencing symptoms of vein disease, such as heaviness and swelling, Dr. Miller can develop a custom treatment plan to relieve your discomfort.
Contact him today for an evaluation of your veins!
Don't live near our New Hampshire CVR vein clinic locations? No problem! With over 100 vein clinic locations in 22 states and the District of Columbia, there's sure to be a CVR vein center near you.
410 Amherst Street, Suite 200
Nashua, NH 03063
224 Main Street, Suite 1-D
Salem, NH 03079