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Are heavy legs a sign of varicose veins?

June 5, 2023 • mdconnect • Varicose Veins

If you feel like you are dragging your legs around, the problem might be varicose veins. That sensation that your legs feel heavy is a common sign of venous reflux disease, which causes varicose veins. The more you know about venous reflux disease, the better you’ll understand why your legs feel heavy and what you can do about it.

What Is Venous Reflux Disease?

Venous reflux disease, also called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), means the veins in your legs fail to move blood upward toward your heart. Your heart pumps oxygenated blood throughout your body via the arteries. Once the cells use the oxygen, that same blood returns to the heart through a network of veins. Veins have a tough job, though. Often they have to move blood upwards against the forces of gravity. To make that possible, valves are built into the walls of the veins that open to allow blood to flow upward and close to keep it from moving back. As a person ages, the valves in the veins, especially the legs, can be damaged enough that they don’t fully close. That allows blood to leak out and pool around the next functioning valve, causing the legs to feel heavy.

What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins have damaged or diseased valves. Blood pools around functioning valves, engorging the vein. This is why you can sometimes see varicose veins pop up near the skin’s surface. As the blood builds up in the vein, it can become twisted and knotted. The purple, red, or blue color you see is unoxygenated blood. You can have varicose veins even if you don’t see them, though. And, chances are, if you do see some, you have more deeper in the legs. Symptoms of varicose veins include:
  • Burning or throbbing in the legs
  • Muscle cramps, especially in the calves
  • Pain that worsens after sitting or standing for long periods
  • Itchy legs
  • Achy or heavy-feeling legs
You probably have varicose if your legs feel heavy.

Risk Factors for Varicose Veins

Anyone can get varicose veins, but there are risk factors that increase the likelihood, such as:
  • Age – The elasticity in the walls of the veins decreases with age. That can affect how well the valves open and close.
  • Sex – Women tend to get varicose veins more frequently than men, especially after menopause.
  • Pregnancy – Varicose veins are common during pregnancy because the blood volume increases.
  • Genetics – Varicose veins tend to run in families.
  • Obesity – Being overweight puts additional pressure on the veins and may cause valves to fail.
Sitting or standing for long periods can also be a risk factor. Getting up and moving around regularly is better to keep the blood flowing in your legs.

Getting Treatment for Heavy Legs

Heavy legs are not just uncomfortable. They are a sign you have a medical problem that needs treatment. There are a number of vein treatments available that can ease the heaviness in your legs, such as:
  • Duplex Ultrasound
  • VenaSeal
  • ClosureFast
  • Laser Vein Treatment (EVLT)
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Phlebectomy
  • Transdermal Laser Treatment
Each one will eliminate problem veins. With these veins gone, the body will reroute the blood flow, and you should feel relief. If you are suffering from heavy legs, contact our office at Desert Vein Institute today to schedule a consultation.

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