Painful Varicose Veins? Here Are Six Simple Ways to Relieve Vein Pain

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May 25, 2021 The Vein Institute

Varicose veins aren’t simply an aesthetic issue that looks unpleasant, they can be uncomfortable and painful and in some cases, they could be linked to an underlying health issue. The symptoms are often described as an itchy, heavy sensation, sometimes causing a hot or burning feeling. While ultimately the best way to relieve symptoms is to receive treatment, we’ve put together six simple ways to relieve vein pain that is bothering you right now.

What causes varicose veins?

Varicose veins are caused when vein valves aren’t functioning properly. When the vein valves become weak or faulty, they can no longer propel blood back to the heart and instead, blood collects in your vein. It’s currently the most prevalent venous condition in the country, affecting almost one-third of the population. Largely impacting the legs and feet, varicose veins can form in other parts of the body as well.

  • Genetics: This is the most important factor in determining if you may develop varicose veins. If your father has varicose veins the risk of inheritance is 30%, while if your mother has varicose veins the risk goes up to 40%.
  • Standing or sitting for long periods of time: There are some studies suggesting that professions involving prolonged standing increase your risk of developing varicose veins.
  • Gender: Statistically, women are at a greater risk of developing varicose veins than men due to a number of physiological and hormonal influences.
  • Aging
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Trauma to the leg area
  • Oral contraceptive pill use

To read more: Varicose Vein Causes

Six ways to relieve vein pain:

1. Exercise and stretches

Many of the muscles in your legs act as pumps to help the blood flow back up through your body and up to your heart. The active use of these muscles helps to prevent varicose veins from forming and promotes healthy circulation.

Exercises and stretches that target the calves and ankles in particular help. If you’re sitting or standing for extended periods as part of your work, change position and bend your knees every 30 minutes. Keeping hydrated assists this process, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and minimising diuretics that dehydrate you, like coffee, alcohol and caffeine.

2. Clothing and daily wear

The clothes you wear on a daily basis can have a distinct effect on your veins and could be one of the primary causes of vein pain. Tight clothing, especially around your waistline and thighs, can restrict blood flow and cause issues over time. It’s best to wear looser fitting clothing that’s not constrictive.

Footwear is also important, and high heels might look good, but stop the calf muscles from moving freely and inhibit the pump-action that gets the blood moving. Wearing lower-heeled shoes is best.

These actions won’t immediately relieve any current pain, but rather work to prevent it from occurring long-term.

when to treat painful varicose veins

3. Diet

Diet again is something that is more about preventing the pain from occurring rather than instant pain relief. This works in two main ways. The first is general weight management. As excess weight puts a strain on the veins in your legs, and in cases of obesity greatly increases the risk of complication, weight loss is a great way to help your veins.

The other primary way diet can help is by improving the blood circulation itself. This can be done by including flavonoids in your diet. These are nutrient compounds that boost circulation, reduce blood pressure and help relax tensed veins. Foods rich in flavonoids include vegetables like onions, capsicum, spinach and broccoli, as well as citrus fruits, berries, garlic and cocoa.

In both of these, it’s also good to reduce saturated fats and sugars, as these can build up blockages in your veins, causing pain and potentially serious health issues.

4. Compression

Compression stockings are one of the most effective and reliable ways to take care of your veins. They work to effectively reduce and manage vein pain as it occurs, as well as prevent it from happening long-term.

Wearing medical grade compression stockings, especially during extended periods of sitting or standing like travel, desk work, hospitality and more will greatly help to manage swelling and painful varicose veins.

Diagram of a normal functioning vein with healthy vein valves, a varicose vein with damaged vein valves and then an image of how the varicose vein looks when compressed by wearing medical-grade compression stockings.

5. Coldwater

The burning and itching pain felt in veins is most commonly caused by blood pooling in the veins, causing pressure on the blood vessels and bleeding that aggravates the surrounding tissue. The best way to alleviate this pain immediately is to cool down the veins and tissue, causing the vessels to stop swelling, reduce inflammation and stop the blood pooling temporarily.

This is best done with a cold shower or a cold bath and should provide immediate relief from the pain and discomfort in your veins.

Learn more: Why do my veins burn?

6. Elevation

This is the easiest way to relieve vein pain as soon as it occurs and can be done virtually anywhere. When you have pain in the blood vessels in your legs, elevating your legs, usually by lying down and raising your legs up on some pillows or a higher piece of furniture, you use gravity to get the blood flowing out of the unhealthy veins and back to your heart. This will help to relieve any immediate symptoms but doesn’t help prevent varicose veins long-term.

While all these methods help to relieve vein pain and reduce the risk of vein problems arising, it’s important to speak to your GP or a vein specialist to look at the best treatment for your veins long-term.

Is it dangerous to leave varicose veins untreated?

Apart from the physical symptoms, which can impede daily life, some varicose veins could lead to other health issues. Advanced or severe varicose veins can lead to blood leaking into the tissue and skin. This can cause painful swelling, inflammation and discolouration. Another complication that can occur is the hardening of the leg tissue, a condition known as Lipodermosclerosis.

In extremely rare cases, untreated varicose veins can lead to the formation of potentially dangerous deep vein thrombosis or blood clots. Every case is different so it is advised that you discuss your personal circumstances with a doctor.

If you’re looking for non-surgical options to treat the symptoms of varicose veins, check out The Vein Institute Shop.

Seek expert advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive program using non-surgical laser treatment techniques. You can learn more in our Definitive Guide to Varicose Vein Treatment.

The benefits of non-surgical varicose vein treatment are:

  • Walk-in walk-out treatment
  • 98% success rate
  • Extremely effective
  • Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
  • No general anaesthetic
  • Medicare rebates apply
  • No downtime or time away from work

To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call  1300 535 017 or make an enquiry via the Contact Us page.