February 15, 2024

Leg Heaviness: What Causes It? What Are the Best Treatments?

Do your legs feel heavy? Do you feel like you're dragging your legs as you walk? Do they feel stiff and require more effort even to move? Weight gain may not be related to a feeling of heaviness in legs. Instead, a condition called venous insufficiency may be the source of your leg heaviness.

The veins in your legs have one-way valves to prevent the blood they send back to the heart from being pulled back down the legs. However, if these valves become damaged, blood can pool and cause different types of pain, including leg heaviness. At BASS Vein Center, we help patients identify and treat the underlying causes of leg heaviness, including venous insufficiency. Read on to learn the causes of leg heaviness and how you can treat it.

What Causes Leg Heaviness?

As outlined above, one cause of leg heaviness is pooling blood resulting from venous insufficiency. However, that's only the start. The collected blood slows blood flow, which strains the affected vessels and nearby muscles. Those weakening muscles create the feeling of heaviness in legs.

Some patients think that this heaviness causes varicose veins, but in actuality, it's the other way around. Varicose veins are a symptom, not a cause. The leading causes of leg heaviness are:

  • Standing for extended periods
  • Sitting for extended periods
  • Wearing clothing that's too tight
  • Insufficient levels of activity

Gender and age are also determining factors. For example, leg heaviness occurs more often in females and becomes more likely as you age.

How to Treat Leg Heaviness

Treating heavy legs and venous insufficiency focuses on getting afflicted veins and muscles healthy again. Here are some of the best treatments you can perform at home:

  • Increase your levels of exercise. While all exercise is good, focusing on your legs can help improve circulation by strengthening the muscles surrounding the damaged veins. Walking, swimming, and cycling are excellent and accessible options.
  • Quit smoking. It's a tall order, but a physician can help you quit your smoking habit. Smoking poses a threat to your overall health but can specifically weaken blood vessels and circulation.
  • Keep your legs clean. When your blood circulation is impaired, so too is your skin's ability to heal. As a result, cuts and other wounds pose a greater risk of infection, which in turn worsens the function of your veins. Keeping your legs clean can help them to heal faster and prevent infections.
  • Wear compression socks. You may be able to treat your leg heaviness with medical compression socks. These unique socks put more pressure on your shins, calves, and ankles to force pooled blood back into circulation and keep flowing.
  • Elevate your legs. Whenever you're able to safely do so, keep your legs elevated above your heart. Doing so helps the veins in your legs pump blood back to your heart. You can achieve the necessary elevation with only a few pillows when you sit or lie down.
  • Stand throughout your day. If you find yourself sitting down a lot (or need to for work), take frequent breaks to stand up for a few minutes. Changing positions this way can prevent blood from slowing down.

BASS Vein Center Can Help You

Leg heaviness can be extremely painful, but it doesn't have to dominate your life. The experts at Bass Vein Center will help you identify the underlying cause of your heavy legs and recommend a course of treatment to help you get your life back to normal. Visit the BASS Vein Center or call us at 925-281-5912 to set up an appointment.

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More than 40 million people in the United States suffer from varicose veins, so you're not alone.
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