Not so long ago I thought I saw the beginning of varicose veins on one of my calves for the first time. I’m in my late forties. From friends who are older than me I have heard that they also started to suffer from this around fifty.
I don’t know exactly how you get varicose veins. It seems they have to do with getting older. Could varicose veins also have a link with menopause?
I was surprised to read that there may be a connection between varicose veins and restless legs. Now, of course, I wanted to know more about it.
What are varicose veins
Veins transport blood to the heart. To ensure that this blood does not flow back towards the lower legs, there are valves in the veins. If veins become wider for whatever reason, those valves no longer work properly.
It is not clear why veins sometimes widen. However, the result is that some of the blood flows back toward the lower legs and the veins become overcrowded. The veins expand and varicose veins develop.
There are a number of factors that increase the risk of varicose veins. It could be a matter of predisposition. Hormones can play a role, for example during pregnancy. Prolonged standing and little exercise are also risk factors, as is being overweight. Finally, thrombosis can cause varicose veins.
One in four people have varicose veins and they are most common in women. The older you get, the more likely you are to get them. Varicose veins are usually in the legs, but can also occur in the lower abdomen or in the pubic area. They usually do not cause any complaints and in that case do not need to be treated.
Varicose veins are not always visible. However, there are ways to find out if you have them.
Sometimes, with prolonged varicose veins, it becomes visible on the legs that too little blood flows to the heart. An example of this is swelling around the ankles or in the lower legs. Eczema or infection also occur. It is important to intervene in time with these types of complaints. Otherwise you run the risk of getting an open leg.
Varicose veins can be treated, for example with surgery, injecting or laser therapy. This does not guarantee that you will not get them again. The cause of the varicose veins is not removed by the treatment.
There are rules of life that reduce the chance of a return or aggravation. Enough exercise, not to sit still for too long or stand still and lose weight if you are overweight are a few. It is often advised to wear compression stockings (elastic stockings).
Varicose veins can cause various complaints. A common complaint with varicose veins is restless legs. Viewed the other way around, 18% of people with RLS seem to have varicose veins.
Another common complaint with early varicose veins is heavy, tired and warm legs. This also applies to itching, tingling and discoloration and hardening of the skin. Varicose veins sometimes hurt. Sometimes they bleed.
At the beginning of this blog I told you that I just thought I noticed a varicose vein on one of my legs. Now that I’ve learned more about potential manifestations of this condition, it’s also occurred to me that I had swelling around my ankle for a few weeks not too long ago. On the same leg and seemingly out of nowhere. Hmm.
I already wrote that I had read that in some fellow sufferers there could be a connection between varicose veins and restless legs. This article also stated that a study of varicose veins found that people with both varicose veins and RLS tended to experience less restless legs after varicose vein treatment. This seems interesting to me to say the least.
Lifestyle rules for varicose veins could also be good for restless legs. I already mentioned above:
• Plenty of exercise
• Do not sit or stand for too long
• Lose weight if you are overweight
• Wear compression stockings
Talk to your doctor if you think this might help you too.