Varicose veins disease can be “inherited”, but it is usually caused by a sedentary job and a sedentary lifestyle. It’s not just a cosmetic problem! Your veins, which are translucent and slightly prominent on the skin, are just a sign, and over time can lead to serious problems. Let’s look at the causes, complications and possible ways to solve them.
Symptoms of the varicose veins
You can easily check whether you are predisposed to varicose veins by observing your family members’ feet. If you see that the predisposition is there, think about prevention. The diagnosis of varicose vein disease is made on a visual basis, rarely requiring angiological (vascular) examination.
Causes of varicose vein disease
The veins (varicose veins) carry “worn out” blood in your body to the heart. The contraction of your muscles squeezes your veins, causing blood to flow. The veins have valves called venous valves, which in healthy conditions act as one-way gates, allowing blood to flow only towards the heart.
But if you don’t move enough, your muscles don’t “pump” the blood vessels. If your vein walls are damaged and your valves are weak, the efficiency of your venous circulation is compromised.
Causal factors (e.g. connective tissue weakness) and provoking factors (e.g. standing and sitting, sedentary lifestyle) can cause blood pressure in the veins of your legs to rise. The blood vessel dilates, causing the valves in your veins to fail to close properly. As a result, blood does not flow to the heart but stays in your veins. They become increasingly swollen and then tortuous. If the condition persists for a long time, the walls of the veins will eventually dilate and the condition cannot be “reversed” from there.
The main feature of blood vessel disease is that your veins cannot remove used blood and harmful metabolic waste products.
In such cases, it is more than a cosmetic problem.
In its mild form, you may “just” itch, your legs may become heavy or you may develop a straining pain. You may also experience muscle spasms, peeling skin and a brownish-red discolouration of the skin. The veins become more bulging and more prominent, and the swelling of the ankle and shin increases. In severe, neglected cases, a wound (ulcer) that is difficult to heal or the dreaded complication, thrombosis, can develop. The latter is a life-threatening condition.
Lack of physical activity, smoking and obesity are risk factors.
The older you are, the greater your chances of developing varicose veins. The rate of varicose veins is as high as 25% for people aged 60-69. And women are twice as likely to be affected as men, because their connective tissues, the walls of their veins, are weaker than those of men. Some female hormones and active ingredients in the contraceptive pill can also increase the risk, so it is worth choosing a different method of contraception.
Women who are pregnant are also at risk because the baby can suppress pelvic blood vessels during development, resulting in congestion in the veins of the leg. Unfortunately, during this 9-month period, hormonal changes also favour varicose veins.
Treatment of varicose veins
It is important to know that there is no cure for varicose veins that have already developed and that there is no way to restore the original condition!
The surgical “eradication” or “injection” of a tortuous, sore vein is really a cosmetic gimmick. If you don’t change your lifestyle, another vein will dilate, as you need to get blood from your leg back to the heart somewhere, as that is the function of veins! And you can’t “eliminate” all the veins. Using an analogy: An earthquake that destroys the railway tracks and roads leading into a city renders both entry and exit impossible. Your blood needs “transport routes”, i.e. killing or blocking veins is not a good solution.
Consider sclerotherapy, laser surgery, radiofrequency catheter removal of varicose veins, stripping, phlebectomy, and endoscopic surgery when the disease’s severity (e.g., recurrent thrombosis) permits no other option.
Some advice for everyday life
- Get active every day (jogging, cycling, Nordic walking, brisk walking, hiking are all excellent)
- Don’t use the lift, take the stairs
- Wear flat, flexible-soled shoes (a maximum heel of 5 cm is recommended)
- Avoid heat, sunbathing, saunas and thermal baths
- If your feet swell, pad them often
- If you’re at work, get up every half hour, move your legs, take a short walk
- Do not sit cross-legged
- Wear leggings or elastic stockings (a specialist recommends the right compression strength)
- Your diet should be high in fibre and low in salt
Prevention and treatment of varicose veins
It’s important to understand what makes the blood flow in your varicose veins! Blood flow is provided by the movement of muscles. Your muscles contract again and again “push” your blood towards your heart. Without muscle movement, blood does not move (or moves very slowly). A sedentary lifestyle is therefore a direct route to varicose veins.
It follows that regular exercise is the best way to both prevent and treat varicose veins. Walking, running, swimming and cycling are the main ways to prevent and treat physical inactivity. By exercising you can increase circulation and get rid of stagnant blood.
Vein treatment usually involves the use of creams, medicines and compression stockings. Elastic tights or stockings work best when you are moving. If you just sit still in a stocking, the elasticity will not help, but it will be tight and uncomfortable. In other words, if you sit in an armchair in compression stockings, even if you think you are treating yourself, little good is actually happening.
Medical devices for home use to alleviate symptoms
There are two effective types of devices. One is the muscle stimulator device, and the other is the compression massage machine. Muscle stimulator treatment is perfectly adequate for milder symptoms, while the lymphatic massage machine is excellent even for the most severe complaints and even complications (ulcers).
The lymphatic massage machine treats with a cuff consisting of several air cavities. This cuff is put on your leg in a “boot-like” fashion. The machine inflates and deflates the air cuffs one after the other. It tightens the muscles and tissues, which starts the blood flowing up the veins. Swelling is reduced, tension is reduced, your circulation improves and your pain is relieved.
Lymphatic massage aka Compression Therapy units
Power Q-1000 Premium compression therapy unit
- 4 compression chamber cuffs
- Use it equally in oedema affecting the arms or legs.
- Optimal for arm swelling, developing after breast removal surgery (mastectomy)
- Eliminate the feeling of heaviness of legs, and tension pains caused by varicosity.
- Relieve swelling of your feet associated with varicosity in pregnancy.
Power Q-1000 Plus compression therapy unit
- Home treatment of mild to moderate lymphoedema without complications
- For cardiac swelling after mastectomy, this device is usually sufficient
- It is effective in relieving the heavy legs and tightness caused by varicose veins
- You can also use it to reduce leg swelling in pregnancy varicose veins
Treatment with a lymphatic massage machine and electrostimulation are not only excellent for prevention but also for post-operative pain and thrombosis prevention.