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Athletes and Varicose Veins


Submitted by Drs. Bohn, Nielsen, Castillo, Benson, and Wright, The Vein Specialists, LLC

Many people mistakenly believe that varicose veins are only a condition of the elderly, especially elderly women. So men and women who are in good shape are surprised when they see bulging veins on their legs. Sometimes, they believe that physical training is causing the problem. In reality, the number one reason for varicose veins among athletes, as with other people, is heredity. If one parent has varicose vein disease, you have approximately a one in three chance of developing it. But, if both parents have it, your odds jump to a nine in ten chance.

Exercise has no impact on risk factors. It neither prevents, nor causes, vein disease. It can improve your symptoms, however. For athletes and others, vein disease can be cosmetic, cause symptoms, or can be a combination of both. Many athletes experience pain about 30 to 45 minutes after a training session or athletic activity. The affected leg may ache, throb, or feel more tired than unaffected leg. Sitting with your leg elevated will reduce the discomfort.

During exercise, your muscles need more oxygen. When you are at rest, your calf muscles are not pumping blood efficiently. If your veins are not working properly, some blood pools in your lower leg, causing the symptoms listed above. Some athletes find wearing a compression stocking or sleeve after exercise aids in their recovery.

Untreated varicose veins will not get better, and they can be a health risk if complications such as infection or blood clots develop. Active people do not want treatment that requires a long recovery, or disrupts their exercise. Fortunately, today’s minimally invasive treatments allow people to return to their normal activities almost immediately.

If you think you might have varicose veins, call 309-862-4000 to schedule a FREE SCREENING EXAM with one of their physicians, or request an appointment online at The Vein Specialists are located in Bloomington at 3302 Gerig Drive, with additional locations in Eureka, Peru, Streator, and Springfield.