Tired, aching legs, swelling, pain, or varicose veins? You’re not alone. The American College of Phlebology (ACP) estimates that more than 80 million Americans have varicose and spider veins and up to 55% of women may be affected during their lifetime. Additionally, approximately 5% of the population have chronic venous insufficiency.
There are many reasons why one may suffer from a venous disorder, including obesity, prolonged standing, medications, and pregnancy. However, the number one contributing factor is heredity. ACP states that common symptoms include “leg aching, pain, heaviness, fatigue, ankle swelling, muscle cramping, restlessness, itching, and burning”. Left untreated, this can lead to significant swelling, blood clots, or even ulcers.
If you are suffering from a venous disorder such as varicose veins, here are 3 simple steps to having healthier legs:
1) Wear Compression Hose
Often the first step, your physician may recommend the use of compression hose to help treat venous disorders. Compression hose come in various lengths, such as knee or thigh high, as well as textures. The strength of the compression varies from mild (8-15mmHg) up to severe compression (30-40+mmHg). Your physician will be able to instruct you on the strength of compression appropriate for you. If it is difficult for you to put them on, consider an aide such as a stocking donner, such as The Butler offered at Lambert’s (video below).
If your physician prescribes compression hose, it is important that you wear them every day. If this is your first time wearing them, try putting them on for a few hours at a time until you get used to it. Unless your physician specifically recommends it, only wear the stockings throughout the day and remove before bedtime.
Particularly helpful for those with swelling, elevating your legs periodically throughout the day reduces the pressure needed by your veins to pump the blood back to your heart. To properly elevate your legs, be sure to raise them above your heart. Seat lift chairs are great, comfortable tools for elevating your legs. Alternatively, you can try laying on a couch with your legs propped on one of the arms.
Exercising helps circulate blood through your veins and prevent the onset or progression of a venous disease. Your physician may recommend specific exercises based on your unique physical needs, but common exercises include walking and flexing your ankles and calf muscles. By walking, you contract and relax your muscles, thereby helping push blood back to your heart.
Corrective measures, such as surgery, chemical ablation, or sclerotherapy may be recommended by your physician if compression hose, exercise, and elevation do not provide enough relief. The ACP states that complications of varicose vein treatments are rare, but as with any procedure, you should evaluate the potential risks and benefits before proceeding.
On a side note, if you’re in the Knoxville area this week, be sure to stop by our Turkey Creek location in West Knoxville this Friday for a complimentary leg screening during our Healthy Legs Event. This could be your first step towards healthier legs! If you’d like to make an appointment for your free screening, please call us at (865) 686-7674.