“Did crossing my legs while sitting cause these veins?”
This is one of the most common questions asked when patients with varicose veins are being evaluated. The simple answer is: NO!
Now, if sitting cross-legged is coupled with other risk factors such as being overweight, female, pregnant, sedentary and/or on your feet for long periods of time, that behavior may contribute to their development, but it is not the sole reason you have them.
Causes of Varicose Veins
In most cases, the primary cause of varicose veins is an inherited predisposition. So, if a close family member has varicose veins, it’s likely that you may develop them. Here’s why.
Veins are designed to return blood from the legs back to the heart through a series of valves. If, due to heredity, you have too few valves, valves that are weak and do not function properly, or weak vein walls, the likelihood of you getting varicose veins increases.
When veins become varicose or enlarged, blood will pool in these superficial veins rather than efficiently move back to the heart. This excess blood, and the pressure that results, stretches and dilates the veins and often leads to symptoms of aching, heaviness and fatigue.
Treatments for Varicose Veins
The good news is that modifying your lifestyle and behaviors can minimize the discomfort and pain caused by varicose veins, so you do have some control over the condition even if genetics are not on your side.
- Exercise regularly – Something as simple as walking promotes good circulation and may help symptoms considerably.
- Elevate your legs – Propping your feet up at the end of the day relieves the pressure on your leg veins.
- Adopt a healthy diet – Excess weight can contribute to the formation of varicose veins. Eating a low-salt diet helps prevent water retention and leg swelling.
- Minimize time on your feet – Avoid standing in one place for prolonged periods of time, move around when possible.
- Invest in good footwear – Wear comfortable and supportive shoes to relieve leg and bag pain.
- Wear compression hose – If worn daily, medium, graduated compression hose provide support and may improve circulation and reduce ankle and leg swelling. They may also prevent the development and progression of varicose veins, especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet.
If these conservative treatment measures outlined above do not provide adequate symptom relief, your doctor may recommend more specific, minimally invasive treatment. There are several non-surgical procedures, including vein ablation, that are almost always performed in the office with little or no recovery time. The goal is to close the abnormal vein, relieving the pressure so the symptoms disappear. Often the unsightly appearance of the varicose veins is also diminished.