Varicose veins may be entirely symptom-free and cause no immediate health problems. Treatment in such cases is usually considered cosmetic. When symptoms are present, the most common are ankle and leg swelling, heaviness or fullness, aching, restlessness, fatigue, pain, cramps and itching. Varicose veins can also be associated with ulcers (sores) of the legs.
In the most severe cases, varicose veins may lead to thickening and discoloration of the skin of the legs, eczema and non-healing sores around the ankle area. Varicose veins, especially whenthey are very large, are at risk of forming a blood clot, a condition known as superficial thrombophlebitis. If you experience any of these of varicose veins symptoms, talk with your doctor.
How are varicose veins treated?
Varicose veins are always a sign of an underlying venous insufficiency disorder, whether symptomatic or not. Tra-ditional treatments include making life-style modifications, wearing compression stockings and taking some medications. Patients with varicose veins are encouraged to lose weight, exercise and elevate their legs.
Compression stockings are effective in reducing swelling and pain. Low-dose diuretics (water pills) reduce swelling in the short term, topical steroid creams reduce inflammation, and antibiotics treat cellulitis (skin infection). Horse chestnut seed extract is an herbal remedy taken to reduce short-term swelling, but this preparation has not been approved by the FDA
There are some self-care measures you can take to decrease the discomfort that varicose veins can cause. These same measures can help prevent or slow the development of varicose veins, as well.
- Exercise. Get moving. Walking is a great way to encourage blood circulation in your legs. Your doctor can recommend an appropriate activity level for you.
- Watch your weight and your diet. Shedding excess pounds takes unnecessary pressure off your veins. What you eat can help, too. Follow a low-salt diet to prevent swelling caused from water retention.
- Watch what you wear. Avoid high heels. Low-heeled shoes work calf muscles more, which is better for your veins. Don’t wear tight clothes around your waist, legs or groin because these garments can reduce blood flow.
- Elevate your legs. To improve the circulation in your legs, take several short breaks daily to elevate your legs above the level of your heart. For example, lie down with your legs resting on three or four pillows.
- Avoid long periods of sitting or standing. Make a point of changing your position frequently to encourage blood flow.
- Don’t sit with your legs crossed. Some doctors believe this position can increase circulation problems.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a very effective treatment for varicose veins. It is a natural body cleansing product and also improves blood flow and circulation. When the blood starts flowing naturally, the heaviness and swelling of varicose veins will decrease to a great extent.
Apply undiluted apple cider vinegar on the skin over the varicose veins and gently massage the area. Do this every day before going to bed and again in the next morning. Follow this remedy for a few months to reduce the size of varicose veins.
What is the best treatment for varicose veins?
Types of sclerotherapy for varicose vein treatment include: laser-assisted — the least invasive and most advanced. foam sclerotherapy — for larger, more difficult-to-treat veins. and ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy — for large, deep veins that once required surgical treatment.
Exercise — including running — is usually a good thing for your veins. “Exercise is always good for the circulation,” Kim says. “Walking or running can lead to more calf-muscle pumping and more blood returning to the heart.”
“Being a runner doesn’t cause varicose veins,” adds Gibson, though there’s controversy about whether exercise makes them worse or not.” Compression stockings can help prevent blood from pooling in your lower legs during exercise. “For patients who haven’t had their varicose veins treated and are running, I recommend compression. When you’re done running and are cooling off, elevate your legs,” she says.
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:
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.