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Varicose Veins: Cosmetic Inconvenience or a True Problem?

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It’s Wednesday afternoon and you were planning to go to the gym after work. But after standing and running around almost all day you feel cramping, pain and itching down at your feet and lower legs. Why did I wear those heels, you think to yourself? And how am I going to workout with this pain?


Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and tortuous, typically occurring on the leg.

At least ]]> 25 million Americas ]]> experience symptoms caused by varicose veins. Common professions like nursing or teaching require prolonged sitting or standing, which increases chances of developing varicose veins. Not to mention pregnancy, where the amount of blood in the body increases and may enlarge veins. Obesity, hormonal changes, increasing age, family history, sun exposure, and leg injury may do the same.

]]> Veins ]]> have small leaflet valves to prevent blood from flowing backwards. When they enlarge, the leaflets don’t work properly allowing blood to flow backwards. This backward flow causes more pressure and enlarges the veins even more. Varicose veins are located more commonly in the legs due to gravity causing increased pressure in the lower part of our bodies during standing or sitting.

]]> SYMPTOMS: ]]>
Some common symptoms include aching pain, easily tired legs, leg heaviness or swelling, darkening of the skin, numbness in the legs, itching or irritated rash in the legs.

1. Do not cross your legs when sitting
2. Elevate your legs when resting as often as possible
3. Avoid standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time
4. Exercise regularly
5. Watch your weight
6. Eat high-fiber foods, decrease salt
7. Avoid becoming constipated as this may put pressure on the veins
8. Wear sunscreen

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EmpowHER Guest

This is something I have become increasingly concerned about. It's difficult to know if it's the veins that are hurting or the result of advanced arthritis in my knees. I have many, many varicose veins in both legs. I've not been tested to see if they are serious or a health concern, since I have other health issues that take presidence right now. Thank you for the information. It's something I needed to know more about.

October 16, 2009 - 9:24pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.