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Why Do Varicose Veins Hurt?

First, a caveat – for many people, their varicose veins don’t hurt. Some people will experience pain related to their varicose veins, while others will not. Research into pain associated with vein disease is thus often difficult to assess due to an absence of a close relationship between pain and the clinical severity of the venous disease.

What causes varicose veins to become painful?

To understand why varicose veins sometimes can hurt, it’s important to understand what causes them. They are the result of a disease called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a condition in which the veins’ internal valves malfunction and stop blood from flowing as it should – “up” towards the heart and lungs. Instead, the blood “leaks” back into the veins, causing them to swell and leading to increasingly poor circulation. This impaired circulation can cause inflammation, and allow blood to leak into areas that cause pain receptor fibres to activate.

Pain associated with varicose veins is often perceived as a “dull aching,” sometimes accompanied by throbbing, itching, and general discomfort. Common side effects of such pain include tiredness, lack of energy and feelings of “heaviness” in the legs. For most patients who experience painful varicose veins, the symptoms are aggravated by inaction and resolve when they get up and walk. In general, large varicose veins produce more pain symptoms than small ones, but this is far from an exact predictor.

In women, these symptoms may become worse during their menstrual cycles or pregnancy. And many people who do experience pain and discomfort find that it is worst at night, and can lead to a loss of sleep. Also, just the presence of constant or daily pain can have a significant impact on a person’s overall quality of life.

What you can do about painful varicose veins

  • Get more exercise. Yes, we know it sounds counter-intuitive, but regular exercise – even a daily brisk walk – can be helpful in alleviating the pain. Stretching also helps, because tight, constricted muscles impair circulation.
  • Lifestyle changes. Practice good skin hygiene, keep your weight down, stop smoking if you still smoke, and stay hydrated (drink lots of water).
  • Elevate your legs. Spend some time each day with your legs raised above the level of your heart. This can improve blood flow and reduce pain.
  • Wear compression stockings. Your vein doctor can prescribe prescription stockings that exert a constant pressure on your legs or calves to improve circulation and slow the growth of new varicose veins. These stockings can help to reduce pain in many patients, but in general larger varicose veins may require treatment.
  • Consider treatment. A trained doctor can help to help you either “live with” varicose veins, or treat them. Non-invasive treatment methods such as ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy, endovenous laser treatment, and medical super glue are now an option for most patient’s.

So give the experts at The Vein Institute a call at 1300 535 017 and we’ll be happy to give you a full examination and suggest the best options for your particular needs.



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Varicose veins are leg veins which do not pump blood effectively back to the heart and can be often seen as bulging veins just underneath your skin on either leg. These varicose veins have valves in them which are not working effectively so that blood which is meant to be pushed towards the heart, leaks downwards toward the legs. There are other leg veins which are still working, so blood does eventually arrive through other routes to your heart. However, varicose veins do exert added pressure on your circulatory system. Read More.

Endovenous Laser Ablation is a Varicose Veins Laser Treatment performed in our clinic under local anaesthetic. This new procedure is an excellent treatment option for most patients with varicose veins and is considered slightly more effective than surgery but without the need for hospitalization. Read More.

This is an endovenous treatment (meaning treating the vein on the inside). It is generally accepted to be associated with less pain and bruising than endovenous laser ablation. It is a “gold standard” form of treatment for large varicose leg veins treatment as the procedure requires no hospitalization or time of work yet is at least as effective as surgery. Read More.

Venaseal™ or ‘superglue’ treatment by Sapheon is the latest surgery free procedure that uses a medical adhesive to safely and effectively treat varicose veins. Unlike other treatments, Venaseal™ does not require tumescent local anaesthetic around the vein, so there is usually only one local anaesthetic injection. The Venaseal™ non surgical treatment procedure also eliminates the use of heat (or thermal energy) so there is virtually no risk of nerve or skin injury or any major reaction to the anaesthetic. Read More.

Ultrasound Guided Foam Sclerotherapy allows our doctors to visually guide and monitor a needle to the exact source of the incompetent vein (valve) to be injected. By using ultrasound we can treat more quickly and safely larger and deeper veins that once required more invasive surgical treatment. Foam sclerotherapy is the new form of delivering the sclerosing agent that allows us to treat larger varicose veins that might be unsuccessfully treated with conventional sclerotherapy. The foam solution has the consistency of ‘shaving cream’, which improves treatment in two distinct ways. Read More.

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