Varicose veins are veins that are twisted, swollen (inflamed), or enlarged. While any vein can develop these issues, it’s usually ones in the legs that are affected most. This often happens because activities involving the legs, like standing, jogging, running, playing sports, and walking, can place added pressure on veins and make abnormalities more noticeable. Treatments recommended will depend on the severity of the issues with your varicose veins and how much discomfort you may be experiencing.
What Can Make Varicose Veins Painful?
Some varicose veins cause no pain at all. However, you may still notice dark purple or blue coloration in the affected area. Affected veins may also be visibly corded or twisted in appearance. If pain is experienced, you may notice discomfort that includes:
- A feeling of heaviness and/or aches and fatigue in legs
- Muscle cramping and/or swelling in lower legs
- Burning or throbbing sensations
- Itchiness within the affected area
- Pain that’s worse after sitting or standing for long periods of time
Varicose veins sometimes become inflamed enough for blood clots to form. Should this happens, it’s referred to as phlebitis. If you develop clots, you may experience pain accompanied by:
- A sensation of heat
- A feeling of hardness within the affected area
Another way varicose veins can be painful is if the affected vein bursts. If this happens, the area affected can become filled by accumulated toxins. In some cases, an ulcer may develop as well. Other times, the skin may tear because of the affected vein. which can be extremely uncomfortable.
What Other Issues Can Cause Painful Varicose Veins?
Varicose aren’t always just a cosmetic annoyance. They sometimes contribute to problems in other parts of the body, including the lymphatic system. This is an essential system that plays a role in immune system functioning and the removal of waste from the body. Varicose veins may affect the lymphatic system by contributing to a condition called lymphedema, which could result in foot and/or toe swelling. Varicose veins may also cause pain due to:
- Cellulitis: A type of infection that causes skin tissues to become inflamed.
- Stasis dermatitis: Skin becomes leathery and brownish in colour with this condition. If serious, it may cause fluid seepage through the skin.
- Dermatitis: A skin condition sometimes caused by varicose veins, dermatitis can produce pain accompanied by an itchy, inflamed rash. Ulcers may also develop with varicose veins and dermatitis, and itching may result in bleeding.
- Superficial thrombophlebitis: This happens when varicose veins result in the formation of clots close to the surface of the skin.
How Are Painful Varicose Veins Treated?
In some cases, varicose veins do not require treatment if they aren’t painful. However, if inflamed or abnormal veins are causing you pain, there are several options that may provide welcome relief.
With mild or moderate varicose vein pain, you may be advised to try one or more of the following preventative methods:
- Regular exercise
- Losing excess weight
- Eating a high-fiber diet
- Avoiding tight stockings
- Keeping your legs elevated when veins are painful
- Regularly adjusting your sitting/standing positions
Mild-to-moderate varicose vein discomfort may also be managed better with regular stretching. Even getting up to walk around on a regular basis if you normally sit for most of your day at work may get the blood flowing enough to minimise tissue swelling and related discomfort.
Soaking Legs in Cold Water
Varicose veins tend to be more painful in during the warmer months of the year. This happens because colder temperatures can reduce this type of discomfort for some people. Warmer temperatures can also cause veins to widen or dilate, which can increase pressure on varicose veins. Help the affected veins shrink and become less painful by soaking your legs in a tub filled with cold water.
Drinking More Water
Hydration helps by boosting circulation. For some varicose vein sufferers, upping regular water intake may improve symptoms and ease discomfort enough to keep varicose veins from being a daily distraction pain-wise.
Making Changes with Clothing and Shoe Preferences
Certain clothing and even certain types of footwear can affect leg circulation enough to causes varicose veins to be painful. With shoes, opt for lower-heeled shoes instead of ones with higher heels. It can also be helpful to wear less-restrictive clothing, especially around the groin area, to minimise issues with impeded blood flow.
Wearing Compression Stockings
If your symptoms are mild, you may benefit from the use of compression stockings combined with leg elevation. Typically, it’s advised that these stockings be worn for about six months. What they do is put enough pressure on leg tissues to keep blood from pooling, which can also reduce swelling and related pain. Compression stockings are often purchased from pharmacies or medical supply stores.
This is a procedure that uses heat to seal the veins that are affected by swelling or other abnormalities. The heat may be applied with a laser or radio frequency. Ablation is normally an outpatient procedure that’s usually completed in about 20 minutes. A local anaesthetic is used, which normally makes it a painless procedure. Post-procedure, you’ll need to wear a compression bandage for a brief period of time.
If pain is moderate or more persistent, sclerotherapy may be recommended to eliminate the problem veins. The procedure is done with an injection of a foam-like solution into the affected vein. The injected solution affected the lining of the vein’s blood vessel. The foam solution injection causes the vein to collapse, which can make it scar, clot, or spasm. What this does is close off the vein. The clot that’s formed in this manner isn’t dangerous. The affected varicose vein will simply disappear over time.
Surgery for Varicose Veins
When pain from varicose veins is severe, surgery may become an option. The procedure that’s commonly performed is called ligation. It involves tying off the affected veins to prevent blood from pooling. Another option with surgery is called stripping, which is the complete removal of the affected vein(s).
With proper treatment, pain from varicose veins is often manageable or entirely treatable.
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