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Self-help for varicose veins

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Introduction

This information is for people who have varicose veins. It tells you about the self-help methods that some people use. It is based on the best and most up-to-date research.

Does it work?

We don't know, but self-help might be worth trying if you have varicose veins.

Doctors often suggest losing weight (if you're overweight), getting regular exercise, avoiding standing for too long, and keeping your feet up when possible. But there isn't any research to tell us if these things really work.

What is it?

Doctors often recommend self-help methods for preventing or treating varicose veins. Your doctor might suggest you try the following.

  • Maintain a healthy weight, so that the veins in your legs aren't under too much pressure.

  • Do regular exercise (such as walking or running).

  • Eat a balanced diet. It should contain enough fibre to stop you getting constipated. Foods high in fibre include fresh fruit and vegetables, and foods with whole grains like bran.

  • Avoid long periods of sitting or standing. If you have to stand, shift your weight from one leg to the other every few minutes.

  • When possible, rest with your feet up (above the level of your heart). You could lie down with your legs resting on three or four pillows, for example.

  • Consider wearing support stockings. [20] These may help with aching and swelling.

  • Avoid clothing that is tight around your waist, groin, or legs. This type of clothing can make your symptoms worse. (Support stockings are tight around your legs, but they are designed to help your blood to flow upwards.)

  • Some doctors advise not crossing your legs when sitting, as this may affect your blood flow.

  • Stop smoking. Smoking damages blood vessels, so might be linked to varicose veins.

How can it help?

There hasn't been much good research looking at self-help for treating varicose veins. So, we can't say if works or not.

How does it work?

We don't know whether self-help works for varicose veins or not. But the idea behind most self-help methods is to improve your blood flow and muscle tone.

Can it be harmful?

There isn't any research looking at whether self-help for varicose veins could have side effects. However, you're unlikely to get any problems. Things like eating a healthy diet and getting some exercise are good for your health overall.

How good is the research on self-help for varicose veins?

We didn't find any good research looking at self-help for varicose veins. So, we can't say whether it works or not. Doctors often say that self-help methods are worth trying.

Glossary

constipated

When you're constipated, you have difficulty passing stools (faeces). Your bowel movements may be dry and hard. You may have fewer bowel movements than usual, and it may be a strain when you try to go.

fibre

Fibre is all the parts of food that the body can't absorb. This is why foods that are high in fibre make you have more bowel movements. When your body can't absorb something, it leaves your body in your stools. Foods high in fibre include wholemeal bread and cereals, root vegetables and fruits.

groin

Your groin is the top, inside part of your thighs.

For more terms related to Varicose veins

Citations

For references related to Varicose veins click here.
Last Updated: March 02, 2011
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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