Varicose veins: how to prevent and relieve this venous problem


Varicose veins are twisted and enlarged veins. Any superficial vein can become varicose, but the most commonly affected veins are those in the legs. This is because standing and walking in an upright position increases the pressure in the veins in your lower body. For many people, varicose veins and spider veins (a common and mild variation of varicose veins) are just a cosmetic problem. For other people, varicose veins can cause pain and discomfort. Sometimes varicose veins lead to more serious problems.

Treatment may include self-management measures or procedures for the veins to be closed or removed by your doctor.

Symptoms of varicose veins

Varicose veins should not cause pain. Signs that you may have varicose veins are as follows:

– Veins that are dark purple or blue in color

– They appear crooked and bulging. They are often like ropes on your legs

When painful signs and symptoms appear, they may include

– a feeling of pain or heaviness in the legs

– Burning, pulsing, muscle cramps and swelling in the legs

– Worsening of pain after sitting or standing for a long time

– Itching around one or more of your veins

– Discoloration of the skin around a varicose vein

Varicose veins are found closer to the surface of the skin and are often red or blue. Spider veins are found on the legs, but they can also be found on the face. They vary in size and often resemble a spider’s web.

Causes of varicose veins

Weak or damaged valves can lead to varicose veins. Arteries carry blood from your heart to the rest of your tissues, and veins return blood from the rest of your body to your heart, so the blood can recirculate. For blood to return to the heart, the veins in your legs have to work against gravity. Muscle contractions in your lower legs act like pumps, and the elastic walls of veins help blood return to your heart. Tiny valves in your veins open as blood flows to your heart, then close to prevent blood from flowing back. If these valves are weak or damaged, blood can back up and pool in the vein, causing the veins to stretch or twist.

Risk factors for varicose veins

These factors increase your risk of developing varicose veins:


The risk of varicose veins increases with age. Aging wears out the valves in your veins that help regulate blood flow. This wear ends up allowing the blood to flow back into the veins where it accumulates instead of going back up to the heart.


Women are more likely to develop this disease. Hormonal changes before menstruation or during pregnancy or menopause can be a factor, as female hormones tend to relax the walls of veins. Hormonal treatments, such as birth control pills, may increase the risk of varicose veins.


During pregnancy, the volume of blood in your body increases. This change promotes fetal growth, but can also produce an unfortunate side effect: enlarged veins in your legs. Hormonal changes during pregnancy may also play a role.

Family history

If other family members your family had varicose veins, chances are you have them too.


Being overweight increases the pressure on your veins.

You can stand or sit for long periods of time. Your blood does not circulate as well if you are in the same position for long periods of time.

Complications of varicose veins


Painful ulcers can form on the skin near varicose veins, especially near the ankles. A discolored patch on the skin usually begins before an ulcer forms. See your doctor immediately if you think you have developed an ulcer.

Blood clots

Sometimes deep veins legs widen. In this case, the affected leg may become painful and swell. Any persistent leg pain or swelling warrants medical attention as it may indicate the presence of a blood clot. A condition known medically as thrombophlebitis.


Sometimes veins very close to the skin can burst. This usually only causes minor bleeding. But any bleeding requires medical attention.

Prevention of varicose veins

There is no way to prevent varicose veins completely. But improving your circulation and muscle tone can reduce your risk of developing varicose veins or getting new ones. The same steps you can take to treat the discomfort of varicose veins at home can help prevent varicose veins, including:

– Exercising

– Watch your weight

– Eat a diet high in fiber and low in salt

– Avoid high heels and tight stockings

– Elevate the legs

– Regularly changing your sitting or standing position

Treatment of varicose veins

Fortunately, treatment does not usually result in a hospital stay or a long and uncomfortable recovery. With less invasive procedures, varicose veins can usually be treated on an outpatient basis.


Self-care , such as exercising, losing weight, not wearing tight clothes, elevating the legs, and avoiding long standing or sitting, can reduce pain and prevent varicose veins from getting worse.

Compression stockings

Wearing compression stockings all day is often the first approach to try before moving on to other treatments. They regularly squeeze the legs, which helps the veins and muscles in the legs to circulate blood more efficiently. The degree of compression varies by type and brand.

Compression stockings can be purchased at most pharmacies and medical supply stores.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies for Varicose Veins

You can take some self-care measures to decrease the discomfort that varicose veins can cause. These same measures can also help prevent or slow the development of varicose veins. They include:


Move. Walking is a great way to promote blood circulation in your legs. Your doctor can recommend an appropriate level of activity.

Watch your weight and diet

Eliminating extra pounds, you remove unnecessary pressure from your veins. What you eat can also help. Follow a low-salt diet to avoid swelling due to fluid retention.

Avoid high heels

Low-heeled shoes work your calf muscles more, which is better for your veins. Do not wear tight clothing around the waist, legs or groin, as such clothing can reduce blood circulation.

Elevate your legs

To improve circulation in your legs, take several small breaks a day to elevate your legs above the level of your heart. For example, lie down with your legs resting on three or four pillows.

Avoid long periods of sitting or standing

Take care to change position frequently to promote blood circulation.

Alternative medicine to prevent and relieve varicose veins

Good Although not widely studied, a number of alternative therapies can provide useful relief for chronic venous insufficiency. A condition associated with varicose veins in which the veins in the legs have problems returning blood to the heart. These therapies include, in the form of food supplements:

– Horse chestnut

– Grape (leaves, sap, seeds and fruits)

– Clover

When to consult a doctor

Care personal actions, such as physical exercise, raising the legs or wearing compression stockings, can help relieve the pain of varicose veins and prevent them from getting worse. But if you are worried about the appearance and condition of your veins and self-care measures have not prevented your condition from getting worse, see your doctor.


Papadakis MA, et al., eds. Blood vessel & lymphatic disorders. In: Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2020. 60th ed. McGraw Hill; 2020. Accessed Dec. , 2020.

Varicose veins and spider veins. National Women’s Health Information Center. Accessed Dec. , 93.

Kabnick LS, et al. Overview of lower extremity chronic venous disease. Accessed Dec. , 2020.

Kang S, et al., eds. Treatment for varicosis and telangiectatic lower extremity vessels. In: Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology. 9th ed. McGraw Hill; 2020. Accessed Dec. , 2020.

Grape. Natural Medicines. Accessed Dec. , 2020.

Sweet clover. Natural Medicines. Accessed Dec. , 2020.

Horse chestnut. Natural Medicines Accessed Dec. , 2020.

Butcher’s broom. Natural Medicines. Dec. 11, 2020.

Alguire PC, et al. Medical management of lower extremity chronic venous disease. Accessed Dec. , 2020.

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