Practical advice for the prevention and treatment of venous disorders.

One of the most important predisposing factors for the occurrence of venous insufficiency is heredity. This factor, unfortunately, cannot be changed. There are, however, some simple measures that can be taken to slow the growth of varicose veins and spider veins and improve already existing veins. These measures are summarized in three categories: elevated position of the legs, exercise and application of external pressure to the legs.

Elevated position of the legs

Placing the legs in an elevated position is the best measure for the promotion of normal blood circulation in the legs. This will lead to significant improvement of the symptoms and swelling associated with venous insufficiency. But, it is easier said than done.

Most seats - chairs, armchairs, reclining seats, etc.-do not allow the legs to assume the proper elevated position. And certainly, putting your feet on the desk during work hours is really helpful to venous insufficiency, but it is not in the least good for your career.

Anyone who is suffering from venous insufficiency should try to keep their legs elevated higher than the hips as often as possible during the day.

- When you sit in a chair or on a couch you can put your feet on a footstool.

- Always use a footrest if you work in an office.

- When you have to work long hours in the office, make sure to take a break every 30 to 40 minutes. Having a 5 minute walk around the office causes the calf muscles to contract and act as a second heart, which empties the venous blood reservoirs and returns the blood to the heart, reducing the pressure in the leg veins.

- The same thing applies when you are forced to stay standing for long. A 5 minute walk after every 30 to 40 minute period of standing keeps the venous blood pressure low with the same mechanism.

- During your night sleep it is recommended to place pillows under your feet, so that they rest higher than your hips. Since pillows have the tendency to slip from their place, tucking a folded blanket under the side of the mattress where your feet rest is a good alternative solution.

Regular exercise

Venous problems have reached epidemic proportions in the last decades. There are many of those who believe that the modern lifestyle, where regular exercise is not a priority, is partly to blame.

Regular exercise helps improve the muscle tone of the lower leg muscles, resulting in the more effective function of the calf muscle pump. This improves the return of the blood to the heart. Otherwise, i.e when the muscle tone is not good, for example when someone leads a sedentary lifestyle, the blood accumulates in the tibial venous reservoirs increasing the venous pressure, something which dramatically increases the frequency of varicose veins and spider veins.

Every form of exercise is beneficial, especially the ones that target the calf muscles. Walking is the best form of exercise for someone with venous insufficiency.

This is because an increase in pressure in the large veins located in the abdominal cavity leads to increased pressure in the veins of the lower limbs and gives a burdensome task to the venous valves. Such exercises are weight lifting, abdominal workouts and running. Cycling and swimming are other excellent examples.

At this point it should be noted that exercises which greatly increase the pressure in the abdominal cavity should be avoided because the increased pressure aggravates venous insufficiency. This occurs because the increase of pressure in the large veins located in the abdominal cavity leads to increased pressure in the veins of the lower limbs and the work of the venous valves becomes more difficult. Such exercises are weight lifting, abdominal workouts and running.

The simplest exercise you could do is rise to your toes several times a day. It is an exercise that can be done anywhere and you do not need to have free time to do it. You should do this exercise whenever, wherever and as often as you can - your calf muscles and therefore your leg veins will really appreciate it!

Applying external pressure to the legs

Medical studies have proven beyond a doubt that the application of external pressure to the legs slows the progression and improves the venous insufficiency that is already present.
Additionally, it helps in faster recovery following surgery for the correction of venous insufficiency, alleviating the symptoms and reducing leg swelling.

The best way to apply external pressure is graded compression elastic stockings, thus named because the pressure applied to the legs is greater at the ankles and lighter at the calf and even more lighter at the thigh.

There are of many kinds of elastic compression stockings. They can vary according to the pressure applied to the ankles, according to length, according to texture, etc. There must be cooperation between the patient and the physician for the selection of the right elastic compression stocking on each case, in order to achieve the best result without having a negative effect to the patient's quality of life. The size of the stockings is particularly important. The right size is determined by measuring the leg at certain points. The stockings should be worn during the day and never at night, except in some special occasions after surgery and in accordance to the the physician's instructions.

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