Tips to ease the pain of varicose veins

Varicose veins: Expert gives tips to ease the pain and discomfort

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Varicose veins can be treated.

Varicose veins can be treated.

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The only thing that will resolve varicose veins in the long term is to have them treated by a phlebologist.

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Varicose veins and spider veins can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.

According to leading phlebologist, Dr Peter Paraskevas of Vein Health Medical Clinic (Part of the Paras Clinic Group), "Venous insufficiency, or varicose veins, occurs when the one-way valves on the interior of our veins fail, and blood is allowed to leak backward.

"These one-way valves normally assist in returning blood to the heart, but when they stop working properly, you have venous reflux. If one parent has had a venous disease you have about a 33 per cent chance of developing vein problems; with both parents this increases to about 90 per cent."

According to Health Direct varicose veins are more common in people who:

  • are older
  • have varicose veins in the family
  • have had a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) in their legs
  • are obese
  • are pregnant or going through menopause
  • stand a lot
  • don't move much
  • have had blood clots previously
  • have had a leg injury

Some of the signs and symptoms of varicose veins - apart from the bulging bluish veins you might be able to see on the skin surface - are aching and pain in the legs, dryness, itching, and eczema near the problem veins, leg fatigue, heaviness, burning, throbbing, cramping and restless legs at night.

When venous disease progresses, symptoms can worsen into the breakdown of the skin which develops into open sores that won't heal, infections, and even blood clots.

The only thing that will resolve the problem in the long term is to have them treated by a phlebologist (vein doctor) but there are a number of ways to relieve the pain in your legs.

Hints to relieve the discomfort of varicose veins

1. Avoid spending long periods standing or sitting. If you can get up and move around regularly, this can help get blood flow moving, and reduce the cause of the pain (the static blood flow).

2. Wear compression stockings or socks. The kinds of compression stockings you wear on a long-haul flight to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are perfect to help support your vein walls. Wear them when you can't avoid standing or sitting for long periods, not just on a plane. The pressure helps prevent the blood from pooling and allowing veins to enlarge in areas where vein valves are at their weakest.

3. Elevate your legs. Varicose veins are a great reason to put your feet up at the end of the day. The purpose is to let gravity help move the blood that was inefficiently moving in the legs. This can also help with swelling in the legs, helping the blood and lymphatic fluids to drain.

4. A cold compress or ice pack. Cold or ice packs are great for pain relief and reducing swelling.

5. Stretch and exercise. Stretching and exercise can help relieve pain. One of the functions of the calf muscle is to squeeze the veins in the legs, which can help move blood along your varicose veins back toward the heart.

Dr Paraskevas said there was little, if any, evidence to show that natural remedies, food extract supplements, lotions and potions which claim to relieve varicose vein symptoms, achieve anything at all.

"Stick with those listed above and make plans to properly address your varicose veins medically," he said.

A phlebologist can assist you by diagnosing and treating your varicose veins. They will recommend the most appropriate treatment for you based on the severity, location, and diameter of your varicose veins and spider veins.

Each treatment involves sealing the varicose vein closed allowing blood flow to reroute through other veins. The treated vein heals and is absorbed into the body.

What treatment is available?

Non-surgical treatment is available which will help elevate painful symptoms, but for long term results EVLA (endovenous laser ablation), RFA ( radiofrequency ablation) and vein adhesive known as VenaSeal which became Medicare approved in 2017 is also available.

These are all walk-in, walk-out procedures which are usually completed in under an hour.

For more information on varicose veins and the latest treatments visit:

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