Exercising and Varicose Veins

If you already have a pre-existing venous condition such as venous insufficiency or varicose veins, exercising can be painful! There are some exercises that are more likely to worsen varicose veins as well. It is important to see a specialist regarding any changes or discomfort.

Exercise is part of a healthy routine and lifestyle, so rather than avoiding exercise, be smart about how you work out. These types of exercises will help strengthen your legs without a strong risk of developing varicose veins. To learn more about Exercising and Varicose Veins, please speak with your vein specialist.

  1. Do exercises that keep your legs even or higher than your heart

    • Gravity has a huge pull on the formation of varicose veins. Keeping your legs at the same height or higher than your heart during a workout will help to take off the extra pressure that can be put on leg veins during exercising.

  2. Keep Breathing Even and Consistent

    • Many people find breathing more difficult and even strained during physical activity, especially weight lifting. Holding your breath increases your blood pressure, which is horrible for varicose veins. Full and even breaths will help keep your blood pressure more consistent, decreasing the pressure on the veins.

  3. Wear Compression Stockings

    • Next time you go for a run or hit the gym, don’t forget your compression stockings. These can help strengthen your veins and help to prevent varicose veins.

Proactive Prevention

Joe Knapp was 14 years old when he was hit head-on by a car while he was riding a bicycle. The accident fractured his left femur at the proximal one-third of the bone and put him in traction for a week. Femur rodding was a new procedure at the time, but the bone healed quickly and Knapp was able to resume sports like basketball and cross-county running.

Fast-forward about ten years. Knapp started to see varicose veins gradually forming on his left ankle and along the scar from the rodding surgery he’d had in high school. At 35, he started to wear knee-high support hose to protect his legs from long shifts as a nurse on a medical-surgical unit. But his leg got worse.

“I wore support hose for more than a decade, but as the years went on, they were less and less helpful,” said Knapp. “When I turned 50, they stopped being effective at all, and I began to notice an itching and heaviness in my legs.”

Fortunately, Knapp had some training in wound care and knew that all venous ulcers start somewhere, often with symptoms of itching and swelling. In addition, there was a history of lymphedema in Knapp’s family. His mother had Milroy’s disease, a condition characterized by lymphedema in the legs and caused by congenital abnormalities in the lymphatic system. Knapp’s sister also developed swollen ankles in her 30’s, and he also has ankles that swell easily.

Knapp’s family history of lymphedema, combined with years of working on a hospital cement tile floors, motivated him to investigate further. And his 2 1/2 years of wound care convinced him to do something about it before it got worse.

“I’ve seen what can happen when some people don’t do anything to address the problem,” said Knapp. “The varicose vein can eventually become a venous ulcer, a wound- and wound healing can turn into a long, arduous process.” He added that once the tissue “has had an assault on the system,” it becomes more difficult to repair as the person ages. The presence of varicosities, or even swelling, can exacerbate it.

In Knapp’s case, awareness led to action. He went to a board-certified phlebologist for a physical exam and diagnostic ultrasound. Together they decided to pursue sclerotherapy, a procedure that Knapp described as “smooth and virtually painless.” He had five sclerotherapy treatments on his legs and the results were immediately apparent. His legs stopped itching and felt lighter, and according to Knapp “they looked much better too.”

Now, three years later, Knapp is a nurse in a private practice. Because of his vein experience and the care he received, he expresses his concern to the doctor whenever he sees varicose veins or other venous issues, in an effort to treat the problem early and prevent further problems, such as venous ulcers, infections, superficial thromboses and potential bleeding.

“Just the idea that I could get an ulcer before I turn 60, no thanks!” Knapp stressed. “These kinds of problems don’t go away on their own- you need to do something about it.”

If you, a friend or a family member suspects varicose veins or other venous issues, we encourage you to come in for a free screening. Proactive Prevention is the best way to keep venous issues under control.

4 Reasons to Ask your Physician About Veins

  1. Legs Often Feel Tired or Heavy– These are two of the most common (and early) symptoms of a vein problem. Intense leg fatigue at the end of the day is a sign. Heaviness is usually a result of mild swelling due to poor venous return (blood flow back up to the heart). These symptoms can easily be treated with compression stockings or other minimally invasive therapies.
  2. Varicose Veins– Many people discount their bulging veins because they’ve been told for years that varicose veins are cosmetic and not covered by insurance. In 1999, the FDA approval of the endovenous approach to vein care changes this dramatically. Today, there are many modern procedures available and, when performed by a skilled phebologist, there is minimal discomfort and great long-term success.
  3. “Bad Veins” Run in the Family– Approximately 60% of people who have one first-degree relative with venous issues will also have issues. That statistic shoots to almost 90% if someone has two first-degree relatives with vein problems. If someone has a family history he/she should be proactive about vein disease prevention and consider going to a vein specialist for a baseline evaluation. We offer free vein screenings.
  4. Open Sore on One or Both Legs– Though some people suffer from arterial ulcers on diabetic ulcers, the vast majority of leg ulcers have a venous component. Today, more leg ulcers are closer and stay closed because of more effective and focused venous procedures.

Healthy Veins for Winter

Varicose vein and spider vein treatments tend to be more prominent in the winter months. Winter tends to be a better time of year for those who experience problems with venous disease as the heat of summer typically causes the veins to dilate and stretch. This will generally increase the symptoms associated with varicose and/or spider veins.

Compression Therapy

In the winter months, vein patients are much more likely to wear compression stockings or socks, having them act as another layer of insulation. Compression stockings will not completely cure vein issues, but they are able to improve the symptoms and keep the issue from getting worse.

The concept of compression therapy is based on a simple and efficient mechanical principle consisting of applying an elastic garment around the leg. By compressing the limb with graduated compression (strongest at the ankle and decreasing going up the leg), the compression stocking acts as a layer of muscle by gently squeezing the stretched vein walls together, allowing the valves to close. The cavity of the vein is reduced, thereby restoring blood flow to a normal state and aiding overall circulation.

There are two common types of compression therapy:

  • Compression Stockings: The usual first line of therapy (especially per most insurance companies) is entirely non-invasive. When applied, high-pressure stockings may prohibit veins, closer to the surface, from pooling.
  • Unna Boot: Unna Boots are useful in healing leg wounds and ulcers. These ‘boots’ are compression gauze that contains zinc oxide paste to further aid the healing process.

Regular Activity

Many people prefer to stay inside during the colder months. A lifestyle with less activity and more sitting around could increase the symptoms associated with the varicose or spider veins. Excessive sitting increases the pressure in the legs and can cause the blood in unhealthy veins to pool more quickly. Keep the legs active as much as possible during the winter months by:

  • Getting up and walking around the house/office multiple times a day
  • Mall walking around the holidays
  • Riding a stationary bike
  • Elevating your legs if you have to sit/lay for an extended period of time
  • Don’t cross your legs while sitting, if necessary cross your legs at the ankles

Each patient’s condition is unique. For this reason, we offer an initial complimentary* vein screening to evaluate each patients condition so that we can recommend the appropriate treatment protocol. The following is reviewed in the initial complimentary* vein screening:

  • Medical History
  • Visual Exam
  • Recommendation for Venous Ultrasound (if needed)
  • Review of Diagnosis
  • Treatment Options (will depend on Ultrasound results)

*Additional diagnostic ultrasound testing may be required, which will be billed to the insurance carrier.

Call our office or visit our website to learn more and schedule a free screening today!

Peripheral Arterial Disease affects over 40% of Adults over 40

More than 40 percent of Americans aged 40 and older have experienced one or more of the most common symptoms of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). However, the majorities are unfamiliar with the disease and relatively few who experience symptoms see a doctor, according to a recent online awareness survey conducted by Harris Poll.

The Covidien-sponsored survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults in September highlights the need for greater awareness of PAD, a disease affecting approximately 202 million worldwide and 8 to 12 million people in the United States.

Specific findings of the survey included:

43 percent of Americans ages 40 and older have experienced one or more of the most common symptoms of PAD;
63 percent of adults ages 40 and older have never heard of PAD;
Only 34 percent of those who have experienced symptoms of PAD have spoken to their doctor.
shutterstock_79761805 Additionally, the most commons symptoms of PAD that were experienced by Americans ages 40 and older included: fatigue when walking or climbing stairs (20 percent); pain that disturbs their sleep (16 percent), and pain when walking or climbing stairs (17 percent). In 42 percent of Americans ages 40 or older, the symptoms impacted their daily life, including not being able to exercise as much/at all (27 percent), having to stay home more (17 percent) and weight gain (15 percent).

“PAD can be difficult to recognize and diagnose, and adults often dismiss symptoms of PAD as normal signs of aging,” said Mark Turco, M.D., chief medical officer, Vascular Therapies, Covidien. “However, it is important for individuals to talk to their doctor about the symptoms and risks of PAD. PAD is usually also associated with other cardiovascular diseases, and if left undiagnosed, can lead to major health issues.”

PAD is one of the most common vascular diseases. It occurs when arteries in the legs become narrowed or blocked by plaque, and it can cause severe pain, limited physical mobility and non-healing leg ulcers. PAD can also result in serious health consequences such as amputation, cardiovascular disease and death. In fact, people with PAD are six times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease within 10 years than people without PAD.

There are a number of risk factors associated with PAD, some of which are controllable and include smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. In fact, one in three people ages 50 and older with diabetes are likely to have PAD and more than 80 percent of patients with PAD are current or former smokers.

Advancing age also increases an individual’s risk for PAD. Up to 20 percent of individuals 65 and older have PAD. In fact, the survey found adults aged 55 and older were more likely to experience the most common symptoms of PAD.

Methodology of the Survey: This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Covidien from September 2-4, 2014 among 2,017 adults ages 18 and older, among which 1,393 are age 40+. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.

Q&A: Compression Hose for Travel?

Q: Which type of compression stocking should be worn for travel and by someone who has postural tachycardia syndrome? I am taking a long haul flight that is about 15 hours. I have postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and would like to wear a comfortable and effective compression stocking on the flight. Should I opt for knee-high, thigh-high, or panty hose? Also, what grade?

A: 15-20 mm Hg stockings should suffice, and the knee-highs are all that is required. Just get up and move about during the flight every 30 minutes and exercise your calf muscles at your seat every now and then.

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