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Having varicose veins is uncomfortable for many reasons. Other than their dark-bluish appearance, they can cause symptoms such as throbbing, swelling, itching — and perhaps most uncomfortably, leg cramps. These painful convulsions can jolt you awake during the night, or restrict your movement during the day. 

As vein specialists working in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, we’ve met and treated many patients dealing with this particular symptom of varicose veins. In this article, we’ll explain what a leg cramp is, how varicose veins can contribute to them, and ways you can treat vein disease in order to get life-long relief. 

What are leg cramps, and how do varicose veins cause them?

Most people have experienced a leg cramp at some point. Typically affecting the calf muscles, leg cramps are an abrupt contraction or shortening of leg muscles. They can also affect areas such as your feet and thighs, and they usually last from a couple of seconds to ten minutes. 

In healthy veins, the blood in your body is pumped back up to the heart to be replenished with oxygen. For those suffering from varicose veins, however, this process gets interrupted. Deoxygenated blood pools in your veins, sometimes leaking out into the surrounding tissues — which can, in turn, cause painful muscle cramping and contractions. This means that yes, in fact, varicose veins can cause leg cramps.

Now, let’s cover how you can stop varicose vein-related leg cramps for good.

How to prevent leg cramps from varicose veins 

If you suffer from leg cramps caused by varicose veins, you’ll be happy to learn that you can alleviate some of these symptoms. Furthermore, these steps can also prevent the development of varicose veins altogether! Here’s a few things you can do: 

1. Elevate Your Legs

Elevating your legs can help reduce the pressure in your veins, allowing blood to flow more freely. This is especially beneficial if you typically stand or sit for long periods. On that note…

2. Avoid prolonged standing or sitting

Prolonged standing or sitting can strain your veins and make your condition worse. If you have to stand or sit for long periods of time, take a break every hour or so to go for a walk or stretch your legs.

3. Stretch your Calf Muscles

Stretching your calf muscles can lower the risk of leg cramps, improve blood flow in your legs, and prevent muscle stiffness. In a previous post, we’ve documented many stretching exercises you can do at home that will assist in cramp relief.

4. Exercise

We all know the benefits of exercise on your general health, but it can also assist in preventing leg contractions and the development of varicose veins. In addition, regular aerobic exercise can improve blood circulation, strengthen the muscles in your legs, and reduce the risk of many forms of heart disease.

5. Make your calves stronger

Strengthening your calf muscles will facilitate the blood to pump more efficiently, thus reducing the risk of leg cramps. Exercises like calf raises are effective at doing this, but other exercises, more natural exercises like running and hiking will also assist in strengthening these muscles.

6. A balanced diet 

A healthy diet with a high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help improve blood flow and reduce the risk of leg cramps and varicose veins. Try to avoid food like processed meat, milk and cheese, white bread, and alcohol.

7. Moderate heat therapy

A heating pad or a warm bath can do wonders for pain relief if you’re suffering from varicose veins. Apply it to the affected area to see improvement and alleviation from pain related to varicose veins and muscle spasm. 

Life-long treatment for varicose veins  

While the aforementioned solutions will help relieve varicose vein cramp-related issues, the only true long-term solution is treatment. If you have varicose veins and would like to relieve the pain and discomfort for good, get in touch with us to schedule an appointment. We will be happy to assist you in finding the best treatment for your specific vein issues.