Jun 29, 2019
What are varicose veins and how can compression socks help?
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins which occurs when damaged or weakened valves in your veins fail to do their job.
Our legs are equipped with one-way valves that keep the blood moving toward the heart by muscle contractions in your lower legs, but when the valves don’t work correctly, blood is flowing back into the veins. The veins will then swell from the accumulation of blood and the risk of varicose veins increase.
Any superficial vein could potentially come varicosed, but varicose veins typically occur in your feet or legs due to increased pressure in the veins in your lower extremities from prolonged sitting, standing, or walking.
Varicose veins can for sure be unsightly; many people find them more a cosmetic concern than a medical problem and do not have any other issues from them. Again others experience more serious complications from their varicose veins ranging from itching, discoloring, painful bulging veins to blood clots and ulcers.
WHO HAS A HIGHER RISH OF GETTING VARICOSE VEINS?
As we get older the risk of getting varicose veins increase. The valves in our legs sometimes get weaker, allowing for blood to leak back into the veins where it accumulates instead of all of the blood returning to the heart.
According to the Mayo Clinic, women are more prone to develop varicose veins than men. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, pre-menstruation, or menopause are all possible factors since hormones have a tendency to relax the vein walls.
Pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing varicose veins during pregnancy due to an about 50% increase of blood and fluids in the body. This increase of fluids are necessary to accommodate the needs of the growing fetus, but may also cause an unpleasant side effect of varicose veins in the legs.
Anyone sitting for extended periods of time has an increased risk of getting varicose veins, because of impaired blood flow due to inactivity. Same goes with anyone standing for prolonged periods of time.
Finally, family history and obesity are two factors known to increase the risk of developing varicose veins at some point in time.
Thankfully, there are different ways to minimize the risk of getting varicose veins as well as to treat them after they occur.
In cases where the varicose veins are painful and causes a great deal of agony for the individual, invasive treatments such as laser therapy or surgery may be necessary, but for other with less or no discomfort, compression socks would be ideal.
Do compression socks help varicose veins? Yes, absolutely. Let’s take a quick look at how compression socks work.
HOW DO COMPRESSION SOCKS HELP VARICOSE VEINS?
As we have discussed on this blog before, compression socks help promote blood circulation by applying a constant pressure to foot and calf muscles, which in return compresses the vein walls and reduces their diameter. Just like squeezing the end of a hose nozzle will increase the pressure of water out of a garden hose, by squeezing the veins, blood is forced to flow faster back to the heart.
Compression socks are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The higher the mmHg, the tighter the compression socks will feel. People with no to moderate problems in regards to varicose veins will greatly benefit from wearing compression socks with 15-25 mmHg, whereas individuals with moderate to severe varicose veins in most cases would need compression socks with 20-30 or 30-40 mmHg.
According to the University of Michigan, doctors recommend that you put the compression socks on in morning, this way you are receiving the maximum benefits from your compression socks throughout the day. Additionally, the compression socks will be easier to put on in the morning as there is no or minimal swelling at that time of the day.
There is no way to completely prevent varicose veins, but you can take measures to reduce your risk of developing them or minimize the appearance of the varicose veins you have.
Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a high-fiber, low salt diet will aid the in prevention of getting varicose veins. Also minimize the use of high heels as well as elevating your feet throughout the day when possible. If you are sitting or standing for several hours at a time, changing the position regularly is also a beneficial measure of prevention.
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