Self-care, or home treatment, is recommended for most people with varicose veins. Home treatment can relieve symptoms and slow down the progress of varicose veins. For many people, home treatment is the only treatment they need.
Exercise can help relieve symptoms and slow the progression of varicose veins by improving blood circulation in your legs.
- Try to walk every day.
- Bicycling and swimming are also recommended for varicose veins. Some doctors say swimming is ideal because, in addition to working your legs, it puts the legs at heart level and avoids the pooling of blood in the legs that comes with varicose veins. For more information, see the topic Fitness.
- Exercise your legs. When you are sitting down, rotate your feet at the ankles in both directions, making small circles. Extend your legs, and point and flex your feet. Bend your legs back and forth at the knees.
High-impact exercises such as running may be uncomfortable for people with varicose veins.
Stay at a healthy weight
Staying at a healthy weight, and losing weight if you need to, may help relieve symptoms caused by your varicose veins. Being overweight can increase the swelling and discomfort of varicose veins.
For more information, see the topic Weight Management.
Elevate your legs
When you elevate your legs, ideally at or above heart level, it helps keep the blood from pooling in your lower legs and improves blood flow to the rest of your body.
There are simple ways to improve the blood flow in your legs and prevent or improve varicose veins:
- Prop up your legs when you are sitting. Use a footrest at work and a footstool or ottoman at home to elevate your feet.
- Lie down and prop your legs above heart level at the end of the day. Try lying on your back on a bed with your feet propped on the wall or on pillows to improve blood flow back to the heart.
- Avoid crossing your legs at the knees when sitting. If you can't prop up your feet, set them flat on the floor or cross them at the ankles. Crossing legs at the knees squeezes veins and blocks blood flow.
- Regularly tense the muscles in your legs and point and flex your feet when you are sitting for a long period of time, such as during airplane travel or a long car trip.
Avoid long periods of sitting or standing
Sitting or standing still for long periods of time puts added stress on the veins in your legs.
- If you stand when working, try to sit down for a few minutes regularly (with your feet up). Some people use a small stool to prop up first one foot, then the other when standing at work.
- Move around after sitting for a long time. If you have a desk job, get up and walk around for a minute every hour to let your legs pump blood back to your heart.
- Stop for a brief walk every 30 to 45 minutes during long car trips.
- During a long plane trip, get up and walk up and down the aisle every 30 to 45 minutes.
Wear compression stockings
Compression stockings are a main treatment for varicose veins that are causing symptoms. They improve circulation and help relieve symptoms.
Current as of: March 4, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
David A. Szalay MD - Vascular Surgery