What are Varicose Veins and what can you do about them if you have them?
According to the Mayo Clinic – Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins that can cause aching, pain and discomfort mostly in the legs (backs and sides of the knees and calves) and feet. They are generally caused by any of the following reasons: pregnancy; age; weight gain; family history; menopause; and prolonged standing. Standing and walking upright increases the pressure in the veins in your lower body.
Spider veins are a milder variation of varicose veins, are found closer to the skin’s surface, are often red or blue, and are more a cosmetic issue. They can be found in the legs but also on the face. Spider veins vary in size and often look like a spider’s web and are not necessarily painful. Whereas varicose veins can cause discomfort and can lead to more serious issues.
How do you know if you have varicose veins even if you don’t have pain? Signs you may have them are: veins that are dark purple or blue in colour; veins that appear twisted and bulging; achy, heavy feeling in the legs; burning, throbbing, swelling, and muscle cramping in the lower legs; pain that gets worse after sitting or standing for long periods of time; itching around one or more of your veins; bleeding from varicose veins; inflammation or skin ulcers near the ankle, which can indicate a serious form of vascular disease which requires medical treatment.
What actually causes varicose veins? Your veins have one-way valves that help prevent blood from flowing backwards. Blood begins to collect in the veins when the valves fail causing the vein(s) to enlarge. This happens mostly in the lower leg area which is the farthest from your heart where gravity makes it harder for the blood to flow upward. If someone has poor venous circulation caused by the absence or weakness of the valves in the veins it can lead to varicose veins.
Women of child bearing age and older adults are more at risk of getting varicose, but men are also at risk at any age.
Doctors try to be conservative in their approach to treating varicose veins. They may advise lifestyle changes such as: avoiding standing for long periods of time; lose weight or maintain a healthy weight; exercise to improve circulation (if and when possible); wear compression socks or stockings; elevate your legs whenever you are at rest or sleeping. If lifestyle changes don’t work and you are experiencing a lot of pain, surgery may be an option. Vein ligation and stripping is a procedure that requires anesthesia, where a cut is made in the skin and the varicose vein is cut and removed through the incision. However, there are a lot of minimally invasive options that can be discussed with your medical team such as: sclerotherapy – a liquid or foam chemical is injected to block off a larger vein; micro-sclerotherapy – a liquid chemical injection is used to block off smaller veins; laser surgery – light energy is used to block off a vein; endovenous ablation therapy – heat and radio-frequency waves are used to block off a vein; and endoscopic vein surgery – a small lighted scope is inserted through a small incision to block off a vein.
So, what can you do naturally to get rid of varicose veins without having to go through the surgical route? Dr. Axe has 5 natural remedies: Exercise; Maintain a healthy weight; Use Essential Oils such as Cypress Essential Oil applied to the problem area twice daily for several weeks, or Peppermint, Tea Tree, or Lavender to relieve inflammation; Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet including high-fiber foods, high-antioxidant foods, natural diuretics (not drugs), magnesium-rich foods, spicy foods, wild-caught fish, and apple cider vinegar; and Use Natural Herbs including Bilberry and Horse Chestnut for safe and effective treatments of varicose veins. Please read Dr. Axe’s article here for more complete information.
I know some very special people who suffer from varicose veins and hope this helps them find some relief without having to resort to surgical procedures.
Have a wonderful day and week ahead.