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Varicose veins: symptoms and treatment

Generally found on the legs Varicose veins can be unsightly but not usually painful. 

If they cause no discomfort then treatment is not generally required, however, some people are affected more than others and the symptoms can be hard to live with.

Symptoms of Varicose veins

The most common symptoms of Varicose veins are:

  • Veins which are either purple or blue in colour
  • Veins look lumpy and raised
  • The affected area may throb, ache or feel heavy
  • Swelling to the feet and ankles
  • Muscle cramps, particularly at night
  • Skin changes over the affected veins

Symptoms can be worse after long periods of standing and in warm weather and strange as it may seem, smaller veins can sometimes result in more pain than larger veins.

Self-help for Varicose veins

Affected veins may improve by:

  • Keeping your legs raised when resting
  • Walking around (rather than standing)
  • Taking regular exercise

If you are still experiencing discomfort then it would be sensible to make an appointment with your GP and seek their advice.  Your GP may recommend wearing compression stockings for up to 6 months, alongside regular exercise and elevating your legs when you are able.

If this doesn’t help then there are medical interventions that your GP may recommend.

Medical treatment for Varicose veins

Some of the most common treatments for varicose veins include:

  • Using heat to seal the affected veins, known as endothermal ablation.
  • Using special foam to close the veins, known as sclerotherapy
  • Surgically removing the affected veins, referred to as ligation and stripping.

If you have varicose veins that are not causing you discomfort but you feel are unsightly then you may have them treated for cosmetic reasons but this would most likely have to be undertaken privately and not through the NHS.

Keen to start exercising but the cold weather putting you off?  Take a look at our feature on ways to exercise indoors.

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