Does Your Job Increase Your Varicose Vein Risk?
Varicose veins are a common condition, affecting as much as 40% of women and 25% of men in the U.S. Sometimes varicose veins appear as purplish, twisted veins on the surface of the legs. Other times, there may not be visible physical signs of varicose veins, but underlying diseased veins still cause symptoms of swelling, heaviness, aching, restlessness, or leg pain.
For many, these varicose vein symptoms make it difficult to carry on with daily activities, which is especially problematic if one’s job makes the symptoms feel worse. In fact, your profession may be putting you at a greater risk for developing varicose veins in the first place.
While you may not be aware that you signed up for increasing your risk of varicose veins when you chose your profession, your job is a factor that contributes to the development of varicose veins, along with genetics, gender, childbearing, obesity, and lifestyle. In most cases, it’s a combination of those risk factors that contribute to varicose vein disease. However, people working in certain professions should be aware of their risk of developing varicose veins, and take steps to slow the progression if possible.
When your legs and feet are in motion, your calf muscles contract which helps keep the blood flowing through your legs’ veins. Essentially, any job that requires long periods of standing or sitting without much large leg motion adds to gravity’s pull and contributes to poor blood flow. Overtime, poor circulation in the legs can weaken the veins’ valves, causing inflammation and blood to pool in the veins.
Jobs that require you to consistently stand on your feet without much movement or sit in a chair for most of the day pose a higher risk than others for developing or aggravating varicose veins. Let’s take a look at some of these professions, and what you can do to lower your risk if your job does raise your chance of developing varicose veins:
Nurses, doctors, and medical technicians are typically on their feet all day with back-to-back appointments that typically don’t require substantial walking from place to place. The same goes for pharmacists who stand during all their daily tasks, usually taking only a few steps from the counter to their work station. Meanwhile, lab technicians, medical practice receptionists, and billing coders are required to sit for hours at a time.
While teachers, instructors, and professors may have the opportunity to sit at a desk for small periods of time, the majority of their days are spent on their feet and frequently with relatively little mobility.
Hairstylists & Cosmetologists
Hairstylists, barbers, and cosmetologists stand on hard surfaces for hours at a time, without much need to frequently move from one place to another. Similarly, massage therapists are standing most of the time that they’re working.
Cashiers are required to stand for long periods of time with minimal leg movement, making the veins work harder to pump blood to the heart.
If it’s your job to drive a truck, bus, cab or if you’re a driver for Uber or Lyft, you’ll be sitting for hours at a time. While pressing the gas and brake pedals do activate the calf muscles somewhat, it’s not enough movement to encourage blood circulation upwards to the heart.
Sitting for hours at a time slows the circulatory and vascular systems. If you work on a computer at a desk or on the phone while sitting at a desk, you may not move for hours.
In addition, bankers, production line or factory workers, retail workers, and airline stewards are among those professionals who may be at increased risk for developing varicose veins.
What You Can Do
If you’re sitting most of the day, avoid crossing your legs and take frequent brief breaks to stand and walk. If you’re standing most of the day, try to do calf raises by standing on your tiptoes from time to time.
Finally, if varicose vein symptoms are interfering with your daily tasks or your ability to effectively do your job, it’s time to see a vein specialist. There’s no need to suffer from swelling, pain, heaviness, or aching from varicose veins, and there’s no need to fear treatments.
Treatment of varicose veins today no longer means a painful surgery requiring a hospital stay and a prolonged recovery. Today’s in-office, minimally-invasive procedures are performed typically in under an hour, and require very little to no down time. You can even drive yourself to and from any appointment.
At East Tennessee Vein Clinic, our outpatient procedures are safe, quick, and effective. Dr. Douglass, founder of the East Tennessee Vein Clinic, was the first physician dedicated solely to the treatment of varicose vein disease in Tennessee.
Dr. Douglass and his staff lead the region in experience and expertise of varicose vein treatments. We treat veins differently than other clinics precisely because of our comprehensive approach to treating the root cause and full extent of each patient’s vein disease.