Heavy legs syndrome

What is heavy legs syndrome?

Heavy legs syndrome is the term used to describe a set of subjective symptoms which result from chronic venous insufficiency, a health problem affecting the veins in the legs. The purpose of veins is to bring blood back to the heart to ensure effective blood flow. To do this, they must work against gravity. Veins normally do this owing to their elastic nature, to the contraction of muscles that surround them, and to the presence of valves that prevent blood from flowing backwards.

It may be difficult for veins to bring blood back to the heart, especially if they are less elastic or if the valves with which they are equipped are not functioning well. This causes blood to accumulate in the legs, leading to chronic venous insufficiency. Several factors increase the risk of suffering from this problem:

  • heredity
  • aging
  • being a woman
  • pregnancy
  • excess weight
  • sitting or standing for long periods of time, and
  • smoking

What are the symptoms and consequences?

Most symptoms that accompany venous insufficiency are mild, although they can sometimes be unpleasant. Typical symptoms include:

  • swelling of the legs and feet
  • feeling of heaviness
  • itchiness
  • prickling, tingling or numbness
  • pain, and
  • muscle cramps

Symptoms often intensify as the day goes on and during very hot weather.

Venous insufficiency sometimes leads to certain complications, including the appearance of varicose veins or damaged veins often visible on the skin’s surface. Skin infections may occur (appearance of ulcers) in more serious cases of venous insufficiency. A blood clot can also form in the area where blood accumulates. If this occurs, a medical assessment is required. 

Heavy legs syndrome

How can this problem be prevented or relieved?

You can reduce the risks of suffering from heavy legs syndrome and its symptoms by focusing on certain lifestyle choices. Here are a few:

  • Avoid staying in the same position for too long, including when standing. Moving the legs regularly improves blood flow.
  • Rest as often as possible.
  • Exercise regularly to increase muscle tone in the legs, which promotes the return of blood to the heart. Walking is an excellent choice of physical activity in this context.
  • Lose weight. Excess weight increases the pressure exerted on the veins of the legs.
  • Raise your legs when possible (e.g. at the end of a work day). Raising the legs makes the return of blood flow to the heart easier, by reducing the impact of gravity.
  • Avoid crossing your legs when you are sitting.
  • Wear compression socks. This type of sock creates graduated pressure on the legs to promote the return of blood to the heart. Ask your pharmacist for advice to choose the most suitable product for you.
  • Avoid taking hot baths. Heat promotes the dilation of veins, which can hamper blood flow.
  • Quit smoking. Your pharmacist can help you with the smoking cessation process.
  • Avoid wearing clothes that are too tight or high heeled shoes.
  • Get a regular massage by a professional. 

Aside from these measures, there are very few therapeutic options (e.g. medications) to relieve the symptoms of heavy legs syndrome. In some cases, chronic venous insufficiency requires medical care.

Moreover, the use of certain natural products is sometimes considered. If you intend to take this type of product, always ask your pharmacist for advice first.

Heavy legs syndrome can have a significant impact on quality of life. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to alleviate symptoms. Take action now to prevent this health problem from weighing you down!

Don’t hesitate to speak to your pharmacist if you have any questions about heavy legs syndrome and chronic venous insufficiency. 

Heavy legs syndrome
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Heavy legs syndrome

Are your legs barely able to support you after a day’s work? Don’t let heavy legs syndrome interfere with your activities!
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