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Varicose Veins

Several studies have shown that exercise is beneficial for people with varicose veins; a regular exercise program may be the most effective treatment.

Veins are supposed to contain valves that keep blood from backing up. When the valves cannot close properly, veins become varicose, blood backs up, causing the veins to widen and look like blue snakes underneath the skin. Since varicose veins swell because blood pools in them, the best treatment is to empty blood from the veins. When you exercise, your leg muscles alternately contract and relax squeezing blood back toward the heart, so running, walking, cycling, skiing, skating and dancing are ideal treatments, while standing or sitting increase blood pooling and widen the veins.

Varicose veins are caused by a genetic weakness in the valves or an obstruction of blood flow, such as by obesity, pregnancy, tumors, clots and heart disease. Superficial varicose veins that you can see can cause a feeling of heaviness or aching, but they are rarely painful. Most varicose veins are best left alone. Special injections and laser burning remove only small veins. If you don't like the way that large veins look, you can have a surgeon make a cut through the skin above and below the veins, attach a wire and pull the vein out from underneath your skin. People with varicose veins should not stand around for a long time/ and should wear support hose when they stand or walk slowly, but don't need them when they exercise. Leg ulcers associated with varicose veins are best treated with a bacterial culture and injections of massive doses of the appropriate antibiotic. Surgery is rarely curative.

If you have varicose veins and develop severe pain, usually in the veins in your calf muscles, you have to worry about a clot. Clots in veins are dangerous usually only if they break lose and travel to your lungs to obstruct the flow of blood. So, doctors order tests for obstruction of venous blood flow in people who develop sudden severe pain deep in muscles. If a clot is present, doctors look for clotting disorders such as caused by tumors and antiphospholipid antibody.
Compression stockings

By Gabe Mirkin, M.D., for CBS Radio News

June 3rd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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