What Are the Causes of Varicose & Spider Veins?

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

What Are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are twisted veins that can be blue, red, or skin-colored. The larger veins may appear rope-like and make the skin bulge out.

Varicose veins are often on the thighs, the backs and fronts of the calves, or the inside of the legs near the ankles and feet. During pregnancy, varicose veins can happen around the inner thigh, lower pelvic area, and buttocks.

What Are Spider Veins?

Spider veins, or thread veins, are smaller than varicose veins. They are usually red. They may look like tree branches or spider webs. Spider veins can usually be seen under the skin, but they do not make the skin bulge out as varicose veins do.

Spider veins are usually found on the legs or the face.

Who Is Most Likely to Get Varicose and Spider Veins and What Are The Symptoms?

Women are more likely to have varicose veins and spider veins. Pregnancy, older age, and obesity can also increase your risk of varicose veins and spider veins.  They are often painless and do not usually cause health problems.

Some people do not have any symptoms with varicose veins and spider veins. If you do have symptoms, your legs may feel extremely tired, heavy, or achy. Your symptoms may get worse after sitting or standing for long periods. Your symptoms may get better after resting and putting your legs up.

Other symptoms that may be more common with varicose veins include throbbing or cramping, swelling and itching.

Changing hormone levels may affect your symptoms. Because of this, women may notice more symptoms during certain times in their menstrual cycle, during pregnancy or menopause.

What Causes Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?

Problems in the valves in your veins can prevent blood from flowing normally and cause varicose veins or spider veins.

Your heart pumps blood filled with oxygen and nutrients through your arteries to your whole body. Veins then carry the blood from different parts of your body back to your heart. Normally, your veins have valves that act as one-way flaps. However, if the valves do not close correctly, blood can leak back into the lower part of the vein rather than going toward the heart. Over time, more blood is stuck in the vein, building pressure that weakens the walls of the vein. This causes the vein to grow larger.

Also sitting or standing for a long time, especially for more than 4 hours at a time, may make your veins work harder against gravity to pump blood to your heart.

Being overweight or obese can put extra pressure on your veins. Women who have obesity are more likely to get varicose veins than women are with a healthy weight.

During pregnancy, the amount of blood pumping through your body increases to support your unborn baby. The extra blood causes your veins to swell. Your growing uterus also puts pressure on your veins. Varicose veins may go away within a few months after childbirth, or they may remain and continue to cause symptoms. More varicose veins and spider veins may appear with each additional pregnancy. For some women, varicose veins shrink or disappear after childbirth. For others, varicose veins stay after childbirth, and symptoms continue to get worse.

As you get older, the valves in your veins may weaken and not work as well. Your calf muscles also weaken as you age. Your calf muscles normally help squeeze veins and send blood back toward the heart as you walk.

The hormone estrogen may weaken vein valves and lead to varicose veins. Using hormonal birth control with estrogen and progesterone, or taking menopausal hormone therapy, may raise your risk of varicose or spider veins.

What Can I Do At Home to Help Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?

If your varicose veins or spider veins bother you, you can take steps at home or work to make blood flow in your legs better.

However, you may not be able to prevent varicose veins and spider veins, especially since you cannot control certain factors like heredity, pregnancy and aging

You can get regular physical activity. Muscles in the legs help your veins push blood back to the heart, against the force of gravity. If you have varicose veins or spider veins in your legs, any exercise that works the muscles in your legs will help prevent new varicose veins or spider veins from forming.

Lose weight, if you are overweight or obese. Extra weight makes it more difficult for your veins to move blood back up to your heart, against the force of gravity. Losing weight may help prevent new varicose veins or spider veins from forming.

Do not sit or stand for a long time. If you have to sit or stand at work or home for a long time, take a break every 30 minutes to stand up and walk around. This makes the muscles in your legs move the blood back up to your heart more than when you are sitting or standing still without moving around.

Wear compression stockings. Compression stockings help increase blood flow from your legs.

Put your feet up. Rest your feet on a stool as much as possible when sitting to help the blood in your legs flow back to your heart.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Better yet, come to our Free Nutritional Seminars held on the third Wednesday of every month. Call us for the time of the class. Dr. Lo will demonstrate Nutritional Response TestingĀ® to analyze the body and determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

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