As we all hunker down at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, many are finding it challenging to establish and maintain normal routines. Certainly, the health of your veins may be the last thing on your mind unless you’re experiencing symptoms of venous disease like swelling, pain and fatigue in the legs. With news like “Blood clots are another dangerous COVID-19 mystery” we are all still learning about this virus, and how we can prevent it. But supporting vein health during COVID-19 can be done with simple steps – read on!
That is to say, by necessity, many are living a more sedentary lifestyle that can exacerbate these symptoms, and may contribute to the formation of venous disease. So, it may not seem like a priority, but this is actually an important time to take simple steps that can help maintain vein integrity and relieve symptoms. After all, things are difficult enough without also having to endure leg discomfort caused by venous disease! Fortunately, there are strategies that can ease symptoms of venous disease and preserve vein health.
The first is compression stockings. When vein health is compromised, blood can pool and stretch veins. This can cause sensations like heaviness, aching, tenderness and the formation of varicose veins. Compression stockings reinforce the vein walls and help alleviate these uncomfortable symptoms.
Many people assume compression stockings are unattractive and cumbersome to wear. (Though, plenty of us are sitting around at home in our pajamas these days, so fashion isn’t a top priority!) However, compression stockings won’t embarrass you after the stay-at-home order is lifted. They look just like regular socks and come in a variety of colors, patterns and styles. We can help you find the perfect fit, or you can order a pair online to try. A good starting pressure is 12 to 18 mmHg. All of our patients begin treatment for venous disease with a compression stocking trial. Many find that the stockings alone provide so much relief that no further intervention is necessary. It is important to note that compression stockings can’t reverse venous disease, but they can arrest or slow its progression, while easing symptoms.
Special vein valves keep blood moving in the right direction, but what initiates that movement in the first place? It’s not the veins, which on their own can’t create blood flow. It’s actually the muscles surrounding the veins that get things going. This is why being too sedentary may contribute to venous disease in some people – there simply isn’t enough muscle activity to keep the blood flowing through the veins.
Fortunately, we just need to move one small muscle – the soleus – to make a big impact on vein health. The soleus muscle runs down the back of the leg from the knee to the achilles tendon. It forms part of the calf muscle. Significantly, the soleus is referred to as “the second heart” because of its role in returning blood up from the legs. Perhaps the best thing about this muscle is that we can exercise it while sitting down!
The soleus is the muscle that enables us to point our toes when our knees are bent, which means that you can get in a little soleus workout by doing a simple seated calf raise. Consult your personal physician before trying this exercise to determine if it is appropriate for you.
In conclusion, calf raises and compression stockings are two simple but effective strategies for supporting vein health during COVID-19 and actually any time you are at home. However, if these approaches don’t relieve your symptoms, it’s important to speak with a vein specialist. Artemis will see patients again beginning May 11th, and we’re taking special precautions to keep our patients and our staff safe. Our safety measures follow the guidelines from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss your symptoms or make an appointment. We miss all of our patients and look forward to seeing you very soon!