Hydrotherapy For Varicose Vein Treatment
Varicose veins can be embarrassing and, in some cases, painful. They affect millions of Americans, occurring in about 15% of men and 25% of women. The word "varicose" comes from the Latin word "varix", meaning "twisted" and referring to the snake or branch-like appearance of these swollen veins. There are various treatments to minimize the appearance of varicose veins, some of which involve the actual removal of the vein. If this kind of surgery doesn't appeal to you, you might consider an ancient form of treatment that tends to be much more comfortable: hydrotherapy.
Veins: The Weaklings of the Circulatory System
You're probably aware that the heart pumps blood throughout the body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to hungry cells. The arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart out to tissues while veins return oxygen-poor blood back to the heart. Arteries are very muscular and can contract and relax to change blood pressure or release excess heat through the skin. Veins, on the other hand, are composed of very little muscle. By the time blood reaches the venous part of the circulatory system, the pumping action of the heart has little effect on blood flow. Instead, veins return blood to the heart with the help of one-way valves (which prevent backflow) and the contraction of skeletal muscles.
Stressed-Out Veins Become Varicose
As we age, the valves in our veins get weaker. Having excess body fat and eating foods that cause water retention can accelerate the weakening of veins. The veins and valves of the legs are especially prone to wear and tear because they are so often working against gravity in order to push blood up to the heart. When valves no longer completely prevent the backflow of blood, blood can pool in the lower extremities. Pooled blood creates pressure on veins, causing them to swell and stretch. This is what causes varicose veins.
An Introduction to Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy relies on the pressure and temperature effects of water to gently massage muscles and relax the body. The method has been used for hundreds of years in Egyptian, Greek, and Roman communities. In fact, the Roman Empire built many communal baths for its citizens in order to promote health, hygiene, and a feeling of well-being for its citizens.
Using Hydrotherapy to Soothe Varicose Veins
The gentle pressure of water helps to move blood through the veins, stimulates touch receptors located all over the skin, and decreases sensitivity to pain. While much hydrotherapy involves soaking the entire body in hot water, hydrotherapy for varicose veins involves alternating between hot and cold water baths. A common varicose vein hydrotherapy method requires two basins or buckets that allow water to go up to the knee. Fill one with the hottest water you can stand (but not so hot that it scalds your skin) and the other with the coldest water you can stand. Soak your legs in the hot water basin for three minutes; then switch to the cold basin for one minute. Repeat this pattern four more times, ending in the cold bath. These quick changes in temperature can improve circulation, taking pressure off of swollen veins. The cold water can also help reduce painful inflammation of veins. Hydrotherapy is an easy and inexpensive method for treating the pain and appearance of varicose veins.
Photo Credit: methyl_lives