There are many simple methods to help prevent or at least control the development of spider veins in the lower extremities.
If you have an occupation that requires prolonged sitting and standing, to prevent spider veins consider performing feet, ankle and leg movements frequently. These exercises can be as simple as performing ankle pumps or flexion and extension (heel – toe movements). Standing flat foot and raising onto your toes repeatedly is also an excellent, yet simple, exercise. In doing these movements, the calve muscle contracts. When contracted this muscle applies pressure on veins and forces blood flow back above the valves. Spider veins are caused in part by poor blood flow past the valves and flexing the calves helps constrict the main veins and push blood flow through problem valve points. This in turn relieves pressure in the leg veins and will lead to the development of fewer spider veins.
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Wearing support hose is also helpful. However, these should not be worn during sleeping hours unless instructed to by a physician. Equally important is not wearing clothing that constricts blood flow such as socks, knee highs, etc. at the ankles or behind the knees.
Even items that are meant to prevent vascular compromise may create more of a problem if not worn properly.
If you like to sleep with a pillow under the knees to help with low back pain, make certain that the pillow is placed vertical or lengthwise behind the knees rather than behind the knees in a horizontal position. This will prevent too much pressure on the main vessels behind the knee area when using pressure relief devices.
Many medications contribute to the development of spider veins such as oral contraceptives. Discuss with your doctor if any of your prescriptions are making you more predisposed to this condition.
Last, but certainly not least, is exercise! A short, brisk walk every day will greatly improve blood flow in the lower extremities thereby reducing the possibility of developing new spider veins.
Lori Haney, RN, MEP-C
Certified Medical Laser Safety Officer