It comes as no surprise that the first port-of-call for those suffering from varicose veins and spider veins (also known as thread veins) is to find out whether they can heal on their own or from self-treatment. In this article, we will look to answer these questions, however, we must first understand what are the causes and symptoms of these vein conditions.
What causes varicose veins and spider veins?
Veins contain tiny one-way valves that open to allow blood to flow up towards our heart. When these valves weaken, blood flows backwards and pools, creating high pressure, causing them to swell and enlarge.
What are the symptoms of varicose veins?
Patients have reported a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Achy, heavy and restless legs;
- Pain, itching or throbbing over a prominent vein;
- Swollen ankles and feet;
- Muscle cramps;
- Dry skin; and
- Colour changes in the lower leg.
What are the symptoms of spider veins?
Generally, spider veins are a cosmetic issue, however, some sufferers have experienced an itching or burning sensation.
Can varicose veins and spider veins heal on their own?
As explained earlier, varicose veins and spider veins are caused by weakened valves within our veins so in short – no, they cannot heal on their own or without the help of professional medical treatment. HOWEVER, you can manage the symptoms of these vein conditions by carrying out the following:
Exercise and movement
Exercise improves blood circulation by pumping blood through our veins, towards our heart. Patients have, therefore, experienced relief in symptoms from performing low-impact (to avoid further stress on the legs and feet) cardiovascular exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling and yoga. What’s more, it has been shown that standing or sitting (particularly crossed legged) for shorter periods of time can help to ease pain and swelling from reducing the amount of blood which pools in the legs. If this is unavoidable (due to job restrictions etc.) sufferers have reported that elevating your legs can also help to reduce the symptoms of varicose veins and spider veins. For more information on exercise and vein health, click here.
Loose clothing and compression stockings
Tight clothing can restrict blood flow, putting further strain on your veins. Therefore, patients have experienced reduced pain and swelling from wearing loose-fitting clothing to encourage better blood circulation. Furthermore, opting for flat shoes over high heels can help to relieve pressure on your legs and feet. Most notably, compression stockings can reduce the symptoms of varicose veins and spider veins by encouraging healthy blood circulation through applying equal pressure around the affected area.
Smoking restricts blood flow: it causes plaque build-up which narrows arteries, and it contains harmful toxins and chemicals which weaken vein valves. Therefore, quitting smoking can help to ease pain and swelling by promoting better blood circulation.
Weight and diet
Maintaining a healthy weight can help to relieve varicose vein and spider vein symptoms by putting less stress on the valves in the veins. In addition, eating and avoiding the following foods can help to strengthen vein valves:
Consume or avoid
Antioxidants (particularly flavonoids)
Omega-3 fatty acids
Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits)
Fatty meats e.g. sausages & bacon
Fizzy drinks e.g. Coke, Sprite
For more information on weight loss and vein health, click here.
Herbal supplements and essential oils
Studies have shown that the following herbal supplements and essential oils may reduce varicose vein and spider vein symptoms:
Grape seed extract
Apple cider vinegar – can be applied directly with a cotton ball
It is important to note, herbal supplements and essential oils should be taken with caution – some cannot be taken alongside each other and/or other medication, whilst others must be administered in a specific way. For further advice on herbal supplements and essential oils, please speak to a medical health professional and read the instructions carefully.
Massage is known to promote healthy blood circulation and so sufferers have reported a reduction in varicose vein and spider vein pain and swelling. However, it is important to use a registered massage therapist who is qualified in vascular massage therapy as self-massage can cause further tissue damage. In addition, massage is not suitable for all vein conditions. For more information on massage and vein health, click here.
Epsom salt baths and hot and cold compression
Epsom salt baths and hot and cold compression can reduce pain and swelling by improving blood flow within the legs and feet.
When should I seek professional medical treatment?
If you are ever in doubt about your varicose veins or spider veins, particularly if your symptoms do not ease or get worse, we always recommend speaking to an expert vascular consultant like the ones we have here in the Premier Veins team.
The consultant will perform a vein duplex ultrasound scan to assess blood flow and detect poorly functioning valves. This will allow them to fully diagnose your vein condition and provide you with information on the best treatment plans available to you, including Radiofrequency Ablation (a form of Endothermal Ablation), Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy and Microsclerotherapy.
Learn more about these varicose vein and spider vein treatments here >>>
How can we help?
At Premier Veins, we offer a FREE, no-obligation mini-consultation for anyone considering varicose vein or spider vein treatment at one of our private clinics in Birmingham, Solihull, Leamington Spa and London. The consultation will provide you with an opportunity to:
* Only applicable to varicose vein treatments.
To get started, click here and book your FREE mini-consultation or call 0121 769 2646 to speak to a member of our friendly receptionist team today.