Varicose veins are a very common condition that is associated with venous insufficiency. While healthy veins have valves that prevent blood from flowing backwards within the vein, varicose veins have faulty valves that allow the backward flow of blood, causing it to pool. It is estimated that 75% of the global population experience varicose veins in their lifetime and that 25% suffers from pain related to this pathology.
Many patients ask us about our top tips to relieve varicose pain before seeking treatment. We recommend a variety of options to aid in your relief.
Habits to Decrease Varicose Vein Pain
Creating a routine out of certain habits can help reduce varicose vein pain. While each of these habits can help reduce your varicose vein symptoms, you may find one habit that helps relieve your symptoms the most.
- Elevation of the foot: Gravity is your biggest enemy when it comes to varicose veins. The blood in the varicose veins are unable to flow up the leg while you are standing up. Thus, to facilitate venous decongestion,it is advisable to elevate the leg, regularly during the day). This facilitates the venous blood flow of the lower limbs and decreases the symptoms and evolution of varicose veins.
- Have a balanced diet: If you are experiencing swelling, an excessive intake of salt can cause edema in the legs (by the retention of water) and should be avoided.
- Avoid prolonged heat sources: It is important to make the habit to avoid hot tubs and saunas, because the heat will dilate the vein. With the heat making the vein larger, more blood will pool within the vein, and will intensify your symptoms.
- Compression stockings: The number one habit we recommend is to wear compression stockings regularly. We will explore this topic shortly.
Exercise to Relieve Varicose Vein Pain
Leg exercises, such as walking, swimming and biking, are particularly suitable for preventing and reducing varicose veins pain by reducing venous pressure.The muscles of the lower limb, especially the calves’ acts like a pump, and when contracting, they propel the venous blood up the leg and facilitate its drainage. We strongly advise to walk and exercise regularly.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), such as Tylenol, are recommended to temporarily relieve varicose vein pain. They relieve the pain by reducing the inflammatory appearance of varicose veins (by inhibiting prostaglandins that have vasodilating activity). They also have a fast method of blocking the pain signals to your brain.
Gradient Elastic Compression (Compression Stockings)
Gradient compression socks serve as much to relieve symptoms of existing varicose veins, as to prevent the appearance of new varicose veins. They act as a “second layer” of muscles that exert active pressure on the superficial veins. The pressure is stronger at the ankle than at the thigh, which facilitates the venous return. They also prevent varicose veins from getting worse and creating complications like venous ulcers.
To maximize the comfort of these stockings, it is recommended to put them on in the morning before getting up.By putting them in a supine position, we prevent blood from falling and stagnating in the legs. Ideally, they should be worn all day.
Their degree of compression is variable depending on your venous condition. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). In any case, do not hesitate to seek help from a vein specialist to recommend a compression stocking for you.
When Should I Seek Treatment?
Pain from varicose veins are a very common problem. It is often advisable to exercise regularly and to wear compression stockings to reduce the swelling and pain associated with varicose veins.
It should be kept in mind that there is no “cure” for varicose veins. Once the vein is enlarged and the valves no longer function properly, it is not possible to repair the vein. If you are experiencing persistent symptoms, and are unable to tolerate them any longer, consult a varicose vein specialist to create a customized treatment plan for you.