Varicose veins occur when a vein loses its elasticity; this loss of suppleness can lead the valves inside the vein to stop functioning. This in turn, results in blood flowing back down the leg (instead of towards the heart), resulting in it pooling inside the vein and causing it to swell. These swollen veins are typically located in a person's legs and have a twisted, protruding appearance. It is thought that some people have a genetic predisposition to them; however, even in instances where this condition doesn't run in a person's family, they may still suffer from it if they have a job which requires them to stand for long periods of time or if they are very overweight.
Whilst sufferers sometimes feel self-conscious about the way this condition makes their legs look, varicose veins aren't usually dangerous. They can still cause a person to experience a heavy, uncomfortable aching sensation in their legs. Here are a few ways you can cope with this issue.
Varicose veins that are particularly painful, or that the sufferer considers to be very unsightly, can be removed by a vascular surgeon. The method used by most surgeons in this field is known as ligation and stripping; it involves the varicose vein being tied off, which will prevent blood from entering it, and then being pulled out of the leg using a threading instrument. For this type of surgery, the patient is put under general anaesthesia. This procedure is considered to be relatively low-risk and the recovery time is usually less than a week.
Whilst you cannot completely remove a varicose vein without surgery, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of aching you experience and to prevent the vein from becoming even more swollen than it already is.
Any activities which increase your circulation will help to ease this type of pain. Walking and yoga are both good options which will help to gently boost blood flow in your limbs. The simple act of elevating your legs (by lying down on the bed or sofa and placing your legs on a pile of pillows) can also improve circulation. If possible, try to elevate your legs about three times a day.
If you find yourself standing for long periods of time at your job, look for ways to reduce the amount of time you spend on your feet. If, for example, you're a teacher, you might want to sit on the edge of your desk while you address the class or, if appropriate, sit down behind it. If sitting for any length of time at your workplace is not an option, make sure that you wear comfortable, non-constrictive footwear that won't worsen your existing circulation issues. High heels and flats with pointed toes can sometimes pinch the feet to such a degree that they restrict blood flow.