In the new normal era, many people work continuously throughout the day without changing their posture. One problem that may arise when you work in one posture for a long time is varicose veins in the legs. This not only affects your appearance but different parts of your body. You may feel pain in the legs or feet and your ankles may swell. We should find a way to avoid or heal varicose veins because they cause inflammation and, in some case, lead to ruptured blood vessels.
Getting to know varicose veins
Varicose veins are caused by blood congestion in the veins. The veins are responsible for transporting low-oxygen blood back to the heart. This in turn is caused by the deterioration of the efficiency of the veins and the valves in the veins. The blood vessels stretch, expand, and curl. Most often varicose veins occur in the legs. This is because the legs are subject to pressure from standing or sitting for a long time. Pressure builds in the veins until it eventually causes blood congestion.
Varicose veins in the legs can be divided into two types based on the size of the veins. If it occurs in capillaries of less than 5 millimeter diameter, we will call it “spider veins” as it appears like a purple or red spider web. The other type has a diameter between 1-3 millimeters. Known as ‘varicose veins’, it is caused by blood vessels dilating and twisting because the blood vessel wall is too thin. The colors are green and purple.
Factors causing varicose veins in the legs
- Age: As we get older, the valves in the veins deteriorate. Flexibility decreases, leading to higher chance of varicose veins.
- Gender: Females are more likely to develop varicose veins than males as female hormones cause flexibility of veins to decrease.
- Pregnancy: Pregnant women have increased blood volume resulting in taught blood vessels, leading to blood congestion in the veins.
- Weight: Being overweight causes pressure leading to poor blood circulation in the legs, making varicose veins more likely to occur.
- Genetics: A history of varicose veins in a family makes it more likely to occur.
- Occupation: Varicose veins are more likely to occur in those whose occupations require prolonged standing or sitting such as barbers, cooks, office workers and others where the lower body bears the weight.
- Lack of exercise: Not getting enough exercise decreases the efficiency of leg muscles which support the veins in the legs. As a result, blood flow in the legs is not as good as it should be.
How to treat varicose veins
- Conservative treatment is suitable for those with few symptoms. Wear medical stockings during the day and keep your feet elevated when you sleep.
- Sclerotherapy involves an injection that destroys the walls of blood vessels until they stick together, eventually narrowing the veins.
- Varicose vein stripping is an operation in which a doctor removes the entire range of varicose veins in a specific area to prevent blood from congesting there again.
- Laser treatment of varicose veins involves a laser shot into the blood vessel wall to make it disappear. It is currently a very popular method as it does not cause scars.
- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) involves the application of heat to destroy the fibers that are important structures in the vein walls which are made of collagen. The blood vessels progressively collapse until they eventually atrophy.
- Taking medication to relieve symptoms. This method is used in cases involving small blood vessels. The medicine arrests inflammation of the blood vessels so the valves in the veins return to working normally.
- Taking medicinal herbs: Some herbs help blood flow and restore strength and flexibility in blood vessels.
As far as the treatment of varicose veins is concerned, the chosen method depends on the limitations and other factors pertinent to each patient. The patient must consult with a specialist in vascular surgery in the surgery department to ensure proper treatment.
Avoid varicose veins by alternating between sitting and standing while you work
Besides keeping your weight in the normal range and doing exercise that helps blood flow in the legs, those still working from home can reduce their chance of getting varicose veins in their legs by frequently changing their posture to move their legs. Every 30 minutes, they should get up from their desks to stretch. Alternatively, follow the trend of alternating between sitting and standing while you work using a height-adjustable desk. The recommendation is to sit and work for 30 minutes and switch to standing and working for 5 minutes and keep repeating.
These are general recommendations according to articles in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. Dr. James Levine found that standing up after sitting for a long time had a lot of physiological benefits. For example, only 90 seconds after we stand, our body stimulates the muscles and cells processing and regulating blood sugar control.
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