Get Your Circulation In To Shape, Prevent Varicose Veins
While summer is gone, for many it is never too early to start thinking about how those legs look in short shorts or a bikini.
While the thought of exposing your bare legs may push you to trim and tone them up, how about spending some time thinking about your vein health? If you are one of the many living with varicose veins, taking circulation problems seriously might be the best thing you could do for your legs and body.
Varicose veins (not to be confused with spider veins) are those large, gnarled, often discolored, protrusions on the surface of the skin, most notably seen on the calves or thighs of those who suffer. While varicose veins are not considered by most medical professionals to be an immediate health concern, anyone with varicose veins will tell you that the social and personal costs are nothing to be scoffed at. Aside from the obvious cost of being seen with unsightly knots running down your legs, the lack of circulation can cause associated aches and pains. As with most ailments, conditions worsen with age.Â Thus, it is best to treat the problem as soon as possible.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are the result of a malfunction in certain parts of the circulatory system responsible for carrying blood to all parts of your body.
Proper blood circulation requires the existence of a pressure gradient between the arteries moving blood away from your heart and the veins carrying blood back to the heart. The need for this high pressure comes from the fact that your veins are constantly fighting the force of gravity to maintain proper blood flow, especially in the lower extremities.
Veins contain unidirectional valves that facilitate this movement, but often times these valves can lose their function, becoming less robust or damaged, ultimately causing blood to pool in those veins most affected. This pooling of blood is the cause of symptoms such as cramps, aches, and heaviness in the legs.
In extreme cases, the added pressure on the veins can cause serious complications by allowing inflammatory mediators to leak into the tissue surrounding the blood vessel. These inflammatory mediators facilitate the breakdown of the tissue in the skin and create varicose ulcers. These ulcers are manifested as painful open sores that develop on the skin, which as a result of the poor circulation, do not heal properly. They are costly to treat and are a major health concern.
There are a number of risk factors to take into consideration when examining the causes of this valve malfunction.Â Pregnancy, a history of blood clots, obesity, occupational immobility contribute to a significant portion of those who suffer, but often times it is simply genetics.
How Can Compression Socks Help?
For those who suffer, compression socks can help slow the progression of varicosities at any stage. This is accomplished by physically reducing the diameter of the blood vessels in the legs, thereby increasing their effectiveness in preventing backflow. This manual compression also reduces the leakage of inflammatory cytokines into the surrounding tissue, which reduces swelling in the legs and is thought to lower ones risk for blood clots. Studies have shown that compression socks work most effectively when patients utilize higher compression socks and it is recommended that they extend above the knee. As always it is recommended that you consult a healthcare professional to determine what treatment plan is right for you.