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Varicose Veins in Athletes: Causes, Risks, and Management

by | May 19, 2024

Explore effective treatments for varicose veins tailored for athletes. Stay active with solutions that don’t require quitting your sport, ensuring you can continue performing at your best at the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic.

athlete couple doing exercises

Varicose Veins in Athletes: Causes, Risks, and Management

Varicose veins can be painful or even become swollen. They are the result of the valve function of your veins and whether blood is flowing correctly toward your heart. While many think that varicose veins are a sign of poor health or fitness, this isn’t actually true. Anyone can develop this vein condition, even athletes. In fact, athletics can even increase your risk due to the added demand of bloodflow and risk of trauma in areas where varicose veins occur.

Fortunately, if you are an athletic person experiencing painful or swollen veins, there are treatments that don’t involve quitting your sport.

 

Understanding Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are the result of poor vein valve function. Ideally, the valves of your veins open to allow blood to flow back toward your heart after nourishing the far reaches of your body. The valves close again when the pressure ebbs between heartbeats and muscle contractions. However, if that valve doesn’t close correctly, blood will go backards. This causes it to pool in the vein, forcing the vein to swell and become tender.

Varicose veins can develop for anyone, but are often the result of added stress on the vein or injury near the vein. Varicose veins are most common in the legs because they are working so hard against gravity as blood flows vertically upward.

Athletes are at greater risk than most for varicose veins, especially in the legs after repetitive and intense workouts or leg injuries.

 

Risk Factors for Athletes:

Varicose veins have several risk factors, including genetics, weight, and cardiovascular health. While athletes tend to have good cardiovascular healthy, and lower weight, they also tend to put their veins through the wringer.

Running, rowing, squats, and other repetitive leg-intensive exercises put a lot of pressure on your legs and may cause vein valves to wear out faster. Intense training regimens and competition schedules have been known to exacerbate vein issues.

Leg injuries, especially impacts to the calf or thigh, are also more likely to damage your veins and increase the risk of varicose veins forming.

 

Impact of Exercise on Vein Health

When the muscles of your legs contract, it helps to push blood in the right direction up through your veins. Regular and healthy blood flow also has a positive impact on your vein health. Exercise is far better for your veins than prolonged sitting or standing, and this includes risk factors for varicose veins.

However, many types of exercise also put added stress on your veins. If you have a family history of varicose veins or a related medical condition, you may want to avoid or minimize these activities. Running applies high-impact force up and down your leg with each step, while heavy weight lifting can place undue pressure on the veins of your legs and abdomen.

Swimming, however, is incredibly low-impact and is a great alternative for people with vein-related health concerns.

 

Symptoms in Athletes

What does it feel like for an athlete if you are developing varicose veins? This is an important question to ask. Maintain awareness if you have noticed any of the following symptoms

  • Heavy or achy feeling in  your legs
  • Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping, and swelling in the lower legs
  • Itching around one or more veins
  • Changes in skin color around varicose veins
  • Bulging or bluish veins
  • Restless legs at night
  • Unexplained swelling in lower legs and ankles

Regular exercise fatigue and muscle pain tend to be generalized, while varicose vein symptoms tend to focus on a specific area with sharper pains, itching, or discoloration.

 

Prevention Strategies for Athletes

The good news is that any athlete can reduce their risk of varicose veins through the simple use of compression socks. Compression socks extend up to the knee, providing even pressure around your foot and calf. These help to both improve overall leg circulation and provide the support your veins need to keep pumping blood in the right direction.

If you are at higher risk of varicose veins or have already developed symptoms, you may also want to build lower-impact workout routines that particularly reduce the pressure on your calves and legs. Swimming, yoga, aerobics, and other full-body alternatives are ideal. If you have a necessary intensive routine, perhaps for a competition schedule, incorporate vein-friendly practices and compression socks into your routine.

 

Treatment Options for Athletes in Singapore

Athletes who have noticed symptoms or been diagnosed with varicose veins can pursue treatments to improve the health of your veins and address current varicose vein problems you may have. Surgical treatments today are minimally invasive and effectively close off the damaged vein so that alternate, healthier routes are used.

  • Radiofrequency Ablation – radio waves generate heat which cauterizes the vein closed.
  • Endovenous Laser Ablation – a laser is used to close the vein.
  • ClariVein Mechanochemical Ablation – A fiber administers a chemical that closes the vein.
  • Cryolaser and Crysclerotherapy – Cold treatment and a laser are used to close the vein.

Recovery can take a few days, but minimally invasive procedures drastically reduce recovery time compared to traditional vein surgery. This is ideal for athletes considering the maintenance of their training routine and competition schedule to maintain athletic performance.

 

World-Class Care and Commitment for Varicose Veins at Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic 

Athletes develop varicose veins all the time, usually in the legs but it is possible to develop them anywhere in the body. If you have a vain that is swollen, discolored, itchy, or painful, the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic can help. Contact us today to explore diagnosis and treatment for varicose veins with our varicose vein specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja, so you can resume your athletic activities without pain or worry.

Lifestyle Changes that Can Help Prevent Varicose Veins

These lifestyle changes can help even if you have already started getting them to keep them from getting worse or developing at all.

Am I at Risk of Varicose Veins, Spider Veins, or Deep Vein Thrombosis?

The appearance of varicose and spider veins on your body is nothing of immediate concern. If there are symptoms associated with them, schedule a visit with your doctor to diagnose and treat varicose veins. Spider veins, varicose veins, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can occur on individuals with all body types, genders, and ages. The following demographics may have a higher chance of experiencing them.

  • Those who are overweight (therefore, maintain a healthy weight to reduce the pressure)
  • Pregnant women
  • Females
  • Individuals between the ages of 40 and 80
  • Those who are inactive/not exercising (even sitting or standing for long periods)
  • Smoker
  • Frequent flyers
  • Those who have had surgery or leg trauma

Varicose veins specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja, offers comprehensive care for varicose veins patients at Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic in Singapore.

Assessment of Varicose Veins

Clinical examination and ultrasound doppler scan are most important tools in assessment and deciding management of varicose veins. This takes about 15-20 minutes to do and is usually done in the clinic itself.

Treatment of Varicose Veins

There are various techniques available to treat varicose veins depending on clinical presentation. These include:

  • Conservative medical management including compression socks
  • Laser endovenous treatment (EVLT)
  • Radio-frequency endovenous ablation (RFA)
  • Clarivein endovenous treatment
  • VenaSeal endovenous closure system
  • Microwave endovenous ablation
  • Open surgery
  • Venous avulsions
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Cryolaser and cryosclerotherapy

What are the Advantages of Minimally Invasive Treatments?

  • No major surgery
  • No or minimal visible scars
  • Quick recovery
  • Same day admission and discharge
  • Clinic based treatments

Learn more about “Spider Veins: Types, Symptoms, and Treatment”. Although they might be a cosmetic concern, they can also lead to serious health issues. You might also be interested to find out more on our blog post, “Deep Vein Thrombosis: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment” about the difference between DVT and varicose veins.

Consult a Vascular Specialist for Your Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

Dr. Manish Taneja, a certified vascular and varicose veins specialist in Singapore, has extensive experience in the treatment of all vascular interventions and looks after venous diseases like varicose veins, spider veins, and reticular veins. Come in for a further evaluation and contact us to arrange  your varicose veins appointment today.

 

Dr. Manish Taneja performing surgery

Varicose Veins Resources

Explore our varicose veins and spider veins resources for patients. Gain insight into the diagnosis and treatment of varicose and spider veins conditions, their underlying causes, symptoms, and complications. Connect with your vascular health.

Keep Varicose Veins and Spider Veins at Bay

If your legs feel sore persistently, achy when standing long periods, or maybe you notice blue or purple veins even bulging in the area, chances are these symptoms of varicose veins and spider veins could lead to other serious venous diseases such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI), or Leg Swelling due to increased pressure forming larger blood clots over time. Varicose veins are fully treatable with minimally invasive procedures and treatments offering minimal downtime and quick recovery preventing further complications. Long term effects of untreated varicose veins can hinder your daily life and impact your health.

The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic in Singapore is here to diagnose and treat varicose veins smoothening patients’ experience to find relief and comfort. As a vascular and interventional radiology specialist based in Singapore, Dr. Manish Taneja looks after a spectrum of venous diseases, peripheral vascular malformations, and peripheral arterial disease. Dr. Manish Taneja also has extensive experience in performing all vascular interventions, non-vascular interventions and interventional oncology procedures.

Other Health Conditions

The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is your “go-to” facility for various conditions and treatments. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our varicose veins specialist, contact us. You can also call us at (+65) 6904 8084 for a consultation.