Are Your Varicose Veins Causing Leg Cramps? Don't Ignore Them

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Varicose veins affect about 20% of the population. They’re more common in women, but men develop them as well. You may be most bothered by their cosmetic effects. It’s hard to feel comfortable in shorts, dresses, or bathing suits when you feel as if your veins are attracting more attention than your winning personality.

However, these discolored and bulging veins can also cause itchy, aching, burning discomfort and painful cramps in your lower legs. The symptoms tend to increase as the day wears on and are often at their worst when you’re trying to relax in the evening.

At Vein Center Doctor, we focus on relieving your pain as well as eliminating these unsightly veins with an in-office, nonsurgical procedure that typically take less than an hour to perform. Read on to learn more about varicose veins and the treatment our vein specialists provide.

What the bulge is all about

Varicose veins occur most commonly on the backs of your thighs, mid-calf area, and lower legs. These are superficial veins that transport blood from skin, muscles, and fat tissue to deeper leg veins.

The deep veins then move blood back to your heart, where it’s replenished with oxygen and other vital nutrients and returned to your legs through a series of arteries.

The veins in your legs must work against gravity to move the blood to your heart. They rely on a combination of actions to keep your blood flowing in the right direction.

Muscle contractions in your legs, for instance, act as pumps that apply pressure on the veins and help push the blood upwards. Small flaps (valves) that are positioned at regular intervals within your veins open and close as necessary to prevent blood from falling backward (refluxing).

When these small valves fail to function properly, blood pools in the vein. This causes the lumpy, ropey irregularities and the bulging that’s common with varicose veins. They’re easy to spot because they lie close to your skin’s surface.

The underlying causes of varicose veins

The exact causes of vein abnormalities associated with varicose veins are unclear, but many factors can increase your risk, including:

  • Aging, which may cause your veins or valves to stretch and weaken, but young people also develop varicose veins
  • Excess weight, which makes it harder for your veins to work
  • Hormonal fluctuations and circulatory changes during pregnancy
  • Birth control pills and hormone replacement with estrogen and progesterone
  • Family history of varicose veins

Decreased muscle activity may also alter the pumping/pressure your veins rely on to move blood upward in your legs. This inactivity is often related to sitting still or standing in one place for long periods on the job.

Treatment for varicose veins

Other therapies exist, but the most frequently recommended treatment for varicose veins is sclerotherapy. This involves injecting a substance into the targeted vein that causes it to collapse, and essentially, die. Other, healthy veins take over for the now useless vein, and your body removes the cellular debris left behind by the collapsed vein.

Several vein-damaging substances are FDA-approved for use in sclerotherapy. At Metro Pain & Vein Centers, we prefer Varithena®. It’s an injectable foam that provides effective treatment for varicose veins that have small, medium, and large diameters.

Other substances used for sclerotherapy are typically only recommended for small varicose veins. In the past, larger varicose veins required more invasive procedures, including surgery, but Varithena often makes that unnecessary.   

You may experience some stinging with the injection, but it generally fades quickly. You should avoid strenuous exercise for about a week but can otherwise resume normal activity following the in-office procedure.

If you’re ready to tackle your varicose veins, call Vein Center Doctor for an evaluation, or book your visit online.