One of the most common causes of varicose veins is standing for long periods of time, so nurses—who often work long shifts and are on their feet constantly—have an increased risk of developing varicose veins due to their working conditions.
Varicose veins are enlarged or bulging veins that are visible through the skin and can cause pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. They’re caused by damaged or nonfunctional blood valves that lose their ability to push blood through surface veins, causing blood to pool in veins with damaged valves and form varicose veins. While there are some things nurses can do to try and prevent varicose veins, once they form, they must be treated to get rid of them.
Varicose Veins Prevention
Since sitting and standing for long periods of time are both common causes of varicose veins, it’s important for nurses to alternate between the two positions as frequently as possible during shifts. If you find yourself sitting at a desk for most of a shift, try to take a walking break every hour or two to improve your circulation. If you’re on your feet for most of a shift, make sure to take time off of your feet as often as possible. Sitting during your breaks and lunch will reduce the amount of work your blood valves have to do to move blood through your circulatory system.
Wear Compression Socks or Stockings
Compression socks and stockings, though not the most comfortable or attractive pieces of clothing, can help improve the blood flow in your legs by compressing veins and making it easier for blood to circulate properly through the lower half of your body. The most difficult area of travel for blood in the circulatory system is from feet back up to the heart, which is why varicose veins most commonly appear on legs. Compression stockings help push blood from the feet back up the legs, reducing the likelihood that blood valves will fail and result in varicose veins.
Prop Your Legs Up at Night
During busy shifts, it may not be possible to alternate between sitting and standing, so you can give your blood valves a break after your shift by propping your feet up above your waist in the evening while watching TV or relaxing. Propping your legs up allows blood to flow from feet back to your heart more easily and gives blood valves a break—they won’t have to work so hard and will be less likely to fail.
If your efforts to prevent varicose vein development fail and you end up developing venous disorder anyway, you can have your varicose veins treated to get rid of them. A phlebologist can perform an ultrasound of your venous disorder to determine the extent of your damaged veins and follow up with treatment using a number of non-invasive procedures. The best part is that treatment may even be covered by your health insurance if your varicose veins are causing you pain or other symptoms. Find a phlebologist in your area.