Spider veins are an irritating part of getting older. Many people over the age of 50 find themselves struggling with this unsightly and painful condition. But people with fibromyalgia face unique challenges when it comes to spider veins. So, what are spider veins? How do they affect people with fibromyalgia? And what can you do to treat them?
What Are Spider Veins?
Spider veins–or telangiectasia, as they’re called scientifically–are enlarged veins that grow close to the skin, usually in the legs. They’re often easy to recognize because the veins are easy to see and make up blue or red web-like patterns as they branch out across your skin. And because the veins are so visible, they can make someone who suffers from them self-conscious about their appearance.
In most cases, the veins are simply an unsightly nuisance. But spider veins can sometimes lead to serious health problems. The most common side effect is pain. The swollen veins often ache or throb as blood courses through them. You may notice that the pain is worse when you put pressure on the veins. And the veins might also produce a burning, itching, or tingling sensation.
In addition, the muscles in the legs might start to cramp up and swell. And the poor circulation can lead to restless leg syndrome, where your legs jerk or twitch uncontrollably. That poor circulation can also cause ulcers to develop in the skin. These veinous ulcers develop when the blood doesn’t flow to the tissue, and so the tissue is deprived of oxygen and begins to die. As a result, large, bleeding sores can grow in the skin.
How Are They Linked To Fibromyalgia?
Spider veins are very common in people with fibromyalgia. The type of people who develop spider veins tend to be older women. And these also tend to be the people who develop fibromyalgia most frequently. But the lifestyle changes that fibromyalgia forces on sufferers can also contribute to developing spider veins.
There are a few important risk factors when it comes to developing spider veins:
- A family history of the condition.
- Prolonged sitting.
- Hormonal changes during menopause.
You’ll notice that several of these are linked to inactivity. And having fibromyalgia obviously makes exercise and maintaining a healthy weight very difficult. Not only is it difficult to find the energy to exercise when you have fibromyalgia, but too much activity can trigger painful flare-ups of your symptoms. And it’s hard to maintain a healthy diet when you struggle with pain too much to cook meals at home.
So, the combination of these factors makes people with fibromyalgia more susceptible to developing spider veins. And the general sensitivity of the nervous system when you have fibromyalgia might make the condition more painful as well.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do.
How Can You Treat Them?
Unfortunately, one of the best ways to treat spider veins is exercise. Of course, the difficulty of exercising when you have fibromyalgia might have been what caused the spider veins to develop in the first place. But even just trying to be a bit more active can make a big difference when it comes to treating spider veins. A simple walk around the neighborhood can significantly change the amount of pain you feel.
But there are other treatment methods as well. One of the most effective methods is compression. Compression helps the blood flow out of the veins and helps treat the pain. You can purchase compression socks over the counter in most drug stores. Make sure to wear them every day for the most benefit.
If these methods aren’t effective, there are surgical options as well. The most basic treatment is called sclerotherapy and involves a doctor injecting a chemical into the veins that cause it to shut off. With no blood flowing through the veins, they eventually turn into scar tissue and wither away.
And there is also laser therapy, where a surgeon uses high-powered lasers to beam light through the skin. This light destroys the tissue of the veins, making it possible to get rid of them without cutting them out.
But for very large veins, surgery may be necessary to go in and physically remove the veins. It’s always best to consult with a doctor about what your treatment options are and what they recommend for your situation.
So, have you suffered from spider veins? Do you think they might be connected to fibromyalgia? What did you do to treat them? Let us know in the comments.