While getting ready growing up you may have heard your mom encourage you. “Wear that cute dress out tonight. When you’re my age you won’t want to show your legs off.” Sure back then we thought she was being irrational, but now we see those little blue veins popping up around our calves. The dreaded SPIDER VEINS… Does this mean mom was right? The good news is there’s still time & means to keep them under wraps even after you’ve long graduated from mom’s house.
What are they?
Varicose veins and spider veins, though often used interchangeably, are actually slightly different. Varicose are the larger, bulging, and typically more easily identified veins on your legs. They tend to be swollen and look like twisted chords running beneath your skin. These veins range in color from blue to red to just your normal skin color. Spider veins tend to be smaller in size and less puffy under the skin. They sit closer to the surface of your flesh and appear just as they’re named, like spider webs creating a maze.
Where do they occur?
Most commonly you’ll see spider veins develop in the ankle, thigh, and feet region. They’re generally a thin width and bluish/red in color. In the case of spider veins, their small size is no indication of the degree of aching pain and fatigue they can bring. Cramping sensations are commonly felt in both varicose and spider vein suffers. So although spider veins tend to not look so harsh, they cause pain just the same.
Varicose & Spider Vein Symptoms:
- Pain that seems to worsen after sitting or standing for an extended time.
- Veins that itch often or are inflamed.
- Restless legs or an irresistible urge to move the legs.
- Legs feeling achy and heavy all the time.
- Throbbing or cramping in the legs.
Starting to notice similar veins on your legs and not sure the cause? We rounded up some facts regarding who’s most at risk along with the most common sources of these troublesome veins.
Risk Factors / Life Choices:
- Genetics – varicose & spider veins run in the family.
- Age – the older you get the more wear & tear on you veins.
- Weight – tipping the scale causes undue pressure.
- Women – higher risk due to hormonal changes.
- Standing or sitting – doing one of these for an extended period of time.
- Pregnancy – increase blood supply and pressure on the veins.
- Smoking – restricted blood flow resulting in reduced circulatory function.
- Hormone Medications – may cause veins to enlarge.
Does one of the above sound familiar? Don’t worry. Early attention to varicose and spider veins avoids more serious health problems for most. Here are some care options to help keep the discomfort to a minimum.
Prevention and Treatment:
- Don’t sit cross-legged.
- Elevate your legs whenever possible.
- Wear compression stockings to assist with blood flow.
- Try sclerotherapy (you can also more about this treatment on our separate condition page).
- Get in shape with exercise - it improves your vein strength.
- Consider laser or radiofrequency treatments to destruct abnormal veins.
- Do not smoke.
- Eat a low salt diet to help with swelling.
While the above recommendations may help keep varicose and spider veins at bay, we have to provide a disclaimer, as there’s no cure for weak or damaged vein valves. But don’t be discouraged; current treatments have high success rates in at least improving conditions. You may not be able to reverse the damage or stop it from occurring; however, you can slow down the development and keep your legs from feeling the associated pain day in and day out. Put together a treatment plan and stick to it!
Need some help getting started? Give us a call! Swapping your regular socks for a pair with graduated compression is one of the easiest steps. See what we did there? :)