Do Varicose Veins Hurt?

Do Varicose Veins Hurt?

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that can cause the skin to appear lumpy or bulging. They are often blue or purple and are most common on the legs and feet. Varicose veins are a vascular condition, and can cause pain for some people, depending on the severity of the condition.

In many cases, varicose veins are only a cosmetic issue and there is no clear link between the severity of varicose veins and the amount of discomfort they cause. In fact, large, visible varicose veins may not cause any pain, while smaller, less visible varicose veins can be quite painful for some, however every person who suffers with varicose veins will experience different symptoms. 

Symptoms of varicose veins

More often than not, varicose veins are a cosmetic concern, rather than a health risk, but there are a range of symptoms that can be experienced.

The most common symptom of varicose veins is their visibility on the body (most commonly on the legs) in that they are enlarged, twisted veins that are often visible through the skin. However, there are several other symptoms of varicose veins that include:

  • Aching, throbbing, or a sense of heaviness in the affected area, especially after prolonged standing or sitting
  • Swelling in the lower legs or ankles, particularly at the end of the day
  • Itching
  • Skin changes, such as darkening (hyperpigmentation) or the formation of open sores (venous ulcers) in severe cases

It is important to note that not everyone with varicose veins will experience all of these symptoms; the severity of symptoms can vary from person to person.

Why do varicose veins hurt?

All veins have valves that prevent blood from flowing backwards (away from the heart) and over time, these valves can weaken which can allow blood to pool in the veins. The pooling of the blood can cause the veins to become swollen, enlarged, and painful, due to the build up of blood and pressure within the veins.

How to relieve varicose vein pain

The good news is, there are several ways to relieve pain caused by varicose veins. Here are just a few of the ways you can help to minimise any discomfort:

Keep legs elevated

To relieve the pain and discomfort of varicose veins, raise your legs above your heart. You can do this by placing your feet on a table, stretching them up a wall, or lying down in bed with your legs elevated on pillows. This will help blood flow more easily towards your heart and improve the function of the venous valves.

It is recommended to keep your legs elevated for at least 15 minutes at a time as this should help reduce swelling and ease pain.

Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time

Sitting or standing for long periods of time can worsen varicose vein pain. If you have to sit or stand for long periods of time, it is important to take breaks and move around to encourage blood flow.


Exercise can help to improve circulation and reduce pain from varicose veins, however, it is important to avoid activities that put too much strain on the legs, such as running or jumping.

Wear compression stockings

Compression stockings help to improve circulation and reduce swelling. They can be worn all day or just during the day, depending on the severity of the pain.

Treating varicose veins

Varicose vein treatment using minimally invasive techniques that have been clinically proven to have the best outcomes for patients is available here at UK Vein Clinic. Find out more about how foam sclerotherapy and radiofrequency ablation can get rid of varicose veins for good. 

Knowing when to seek medical attention

Varicose veins are a common condition that can affect anyone. While they may be primarily a cosmetic concern for some, others may find them painful and uncomfortable, so if you have any concerns about your varicose veins or experience symptoms such as pain, swelling, or heaviness, it is advisable to speak to a vascular specialist. 

You can book an initial consultation to speak with one of our specialists for a diagnosis and more information by clicking the link below:

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Varicose vein pain FAQs

What does pain from varicose veins feel like?

Varicose vein pain is often described as a dull ache or heaviness in the legs although it can also be a sharp, throbbing pain, or a feeling of tightness or swelling. The pain is usually worse after standing or sitting for long periods of time, and it can be relieved by elevating the legs.

Why do varicose veins hurt more at night?

Our leg muscles contract and relax throughout the day to help pump blood back to the heart. However, at night, when our muscles are inactive, blood can pool in the veins due to gravity which can cause increased pressure on the veins, swelling, and discomfort.

Why do my varicose veins hurt during my period?

During menstruation, the level of progesterone in the body increases and this rise in progesterone relaxes the walls of veins, allowing them to carry more blood. This can put strain on the valves in the leg veins that help to transport blood back to the heart which can cause varicose veins to form or worsen, although after menstruation, the symptoms of varicose veins typically improve.

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We're pleased to be able to provide our world-class varicose vein treatment in a variety of places throughout the United Kingdom. Learn more about your treatment options, including endovenous radio-frequency ablation (EVRF) and foam sclerotherapy, at the clinic closest to you


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