The varicose veins or varices , as is also be called, is a condition in which the veins widen and thicken pressing against the skin tissue that covers; causing them to become superficial. Some exercises can be important both to prevent and to treat varicose veins.

What are varicose or varicose veins?

Due to their typical appearance, varicose veins can be easily recognized . Therefore, the classic image of a varicose vein shows a blue nodular tortuosity or a tangle of enlarged skin veins , which are clearly visible, especially on the legs.

This causes so-called varicose veins due to the fall of the walls of the vessels, which extend the affected veins. They are more common in women than men, presumably stimulated by female sex hormones. However, men can also be affected by varicose veins .

Common symptoms of the presence of varicose veins

The typical symptoms of varicosis are beyond the characteristic appearance:

  1. Heavy and tired legs.
  2. Tension in the legs, especially in hot weather.
  3. Night cramp or foot cramps.
  4. Swollen ankles and feet due to accumulation of water (edema).
  5. Burning or stabbing pains in the legs.
  6. Feeling of heat and itching in the legs.

Why do varicose veins occur?

In the human circulatory system, blood is pumped by the heart through the arteries to the rest of the body. The return of blood to the heart is done through the veins and it is at this stage of the process, when ” spider veins ” can occur and in the most extreme cases, varicose veins.

This occurs for the following reason:

As is well known, the part of the body where this problem is most reflected is in the legs. This is motivated by the fact that the blood, during its return to the heart, must overcome the effects of gravity since its path is upward. In the veins, there are small valves that operate allowing flow in only one direction.

If for some reason there is a failure in these valves, or their efficiency decreases, the blood tends to return due to the same gravity and a back pressure is produced with the blood that has been rising; causing the walls of the veins to dilate as a result of pressure and emerge towards the surface of the skin, which causes the appearance of varicose veins.

What are the risk factors associated with varicose veins?

Many of you may wonder why some people do not seem to be affected by this condition, while others the condition is quite noticeable.

This is due to the fact that there are associated factors, which make there a propensity to have varicose veins. The most common are the following:

  • The gender of the person: Statistically speaking, it is women who mostly suffer from this dysfunction; although the reason for this propensity is not entirely clear.
  • Age: As with the rest of the vital processes, that of the circulation of the blood does not escape the tendency to become less efficient with the passing of the years; presenting a weakening in the walls of the veins and valves.
  • The state of pregnancy: During pregnancy, a series of hormonal changes take place in the body that favor the appearance of varicose veins . This is in addition to the fact that there is a greater volume of blood circulating through the body, due to the growth of the fetus; which favors the appearance of varicose veins.
  • Hereditary factors: If any of the parents suffers or has suffered from varicose veins, there is a high probability that their offspring will also suffer from it.
  • Being overweight: Exceeding the weight implies that the heart must pump with more force and more volume the blood, which favors the condition of varicose veins.

Complications of varicose veins

There are people in whom this condition only represents a problem on an aesthetic level. But there are others in which complications can occur such as the appearance of ulcerations, rupture of the vein and subsequent bleeding as a consequence and the appearance of thrombi and other conditions.

How can this condition be avoided?

Doctors recommend the use of pressure stockings, and control overweight. But above all, exercise with physical activities that involve the legs. The best exercises are as follows:

  • Open and close the legs: Lying on a flat surface, the legs should be raised and proceed to join and separate them for one minute.
  • Walking on tiptoe: This exercise can be performed at any time of the day and only requires that from time to time, the position is adopted and the movement is made on it.
  • Pedaling: It consists of lying on your back and starting pedaling like on a bicycle. They should be made from 15 to 20 movements per minute.
  • Climb the stairs: It is advisable to do it whenever the opportunity arises. The exercise will generate greater efficiency on each step, the support is done with the middle of the sole of the foot.
  • Walk on the tips of your feet: You can also do it at any time of the day, providing greater effectiveness if it is interspersed with moving on tiptoe.
  • Foot movements: Lie on your back and stretch your legs up. Elevate the balls of your feet up and then down. Try to hold it for a minute, do it a total of 20 times.
  • Knee to chest : Lying on the back, try to bring the knee close to the chest taking your foot with both hands, and hold it for 10 seconds, perform several sessions with each leg.

All these exercises promote good circulation in the lower part of the body, which helps the blood flow more freely towards the heart; thus reducing the pressure on the walls of the veins of the legs and being effective in treating varicose veins .

Other treatment alternatives for varicose veins

First, a complete examination is needed to determine whether it is a primary or secondary varicosis . In addition, it should be clarified if the deep veins in the leg are affected or if there is another condition, for example kidney or heart disease, which can also cause water retention in the legs.

Various imaging techniques, such as ultrasound or X-ray imaging of the veins with an injected contrast agent, provide information on deeper changes in varicose veins.

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, treatment can be started. Depending on the individual characteristics and severity of the disease, this may include the following measures:

  1. Movement therapy and exercises recommended for varicose veins.
  2. Compression therapy using medical compression stockings.
  3. Chemical sclerosis of small varicose veins (sclerosis).
  4. Laser sclerotherapy or radiation therapy.
  5. Pharmacological treatment, especially for the prevention of thrombosis (eg, through ointments with hirudin, which are anticoagulant).
  6. Possible diuretic medications.
  7. Surgical removal of the affected vein (removal or other surgical procedures) followed by drug therapy and compression.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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