Why are my legs uncomfortable?

Discomfort of the legs, like leg pain, heaviness, and/or leg tiredness, as well as swollen feet and ankles, can be first signs of venous disorder. Compression wear can help.

Woman in skirt sitting at a desk

What are heavy legs?

Causes

Risk & aggravating factors

What can I do?

Summary

Do your legs feel heavy, achy, tired? Are your feet and ankles swollen? Do you experience these symptoms mostly in the evenings, after sitting or standing all day? Do these symptoms get worse during summer at high temperatures? Any feeling of discomfort in your legs can be an early sign of a developing venous disorder. Compression wear can help to relieve these symptoms and to slow down progression of the disease.

What are heavy legs?

Heavy legs are characterized by a feeling of discomfort and/or pain in your legs. Your legs may ache and/or feel tired. These symptoms occur especially when you are sitting or standing for prolonged hours, for instance, at work. This applies to all kind of professions in which mobility is restricted, e.g. in an office, as a bus driver, etc. or when you have to stand for several hours a day, e.g. as a hairdresser, surgeon, nurse, or any other service professional.   

What is the cause of heavy legs?

Discomfort caused by heavy and/or swollen legs means that the venous return in your veins is somehow compromised. The calf muscle pump system that supports the blood transport from the feet towards your heart might not have been activated enough while you had to stand or sit in the same position for extended periods.

These symptoms might also be a sign of early venous disorder. Venous disorder is a disease that is caused by unproperly closing vein valves and blood pooling in the veins.

What can I do about heavy, uncomfortable legs?

In most cases, the symptoms disappear  when you elevate your legs or after a good night’s sleep.

Compression helps

Sigvaris compression wear might help you during the day to avoid uncomfortable, heavy legs, particularly if you are traveling long distances or if you are working for a prolonged duration in a sitting or standing position.

The elastic material of the compression stocking, with stronger compression at the ankle and less going up the leg, helps to compensate for the lack of activation of the venous muscle pump system. It gently squeezes the vein walls together, thereby easing blood flow back towards the heart, reducing venous pressure, and improving overall circulation.

If you frequently suffer from leg pain or heavy, tired, and unpleasant-feeling legs, and if the symptoms do not disappear if you elevate the legs in the evening or after a good sleep, you should see a doctor to check if a more progressed state of venous disorder might be the cause of your heavy legs.

By means of ultrasound, the doctor visualizes the blood flow in your veins and checks which part of your venous system in the legs might be damaged.

Sigvaris products can help improve your circulation, increase your energy, and aid in keeping your legs healthy. Your health care professional, therapist, or pharmacist can help you determine which Sigvaris compression product is best for you.

6 easy tips for healthy legs
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  • Move. Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. Physical activity improves blood circulation and encourages return of blood to the heart, so GET UP! Take a short walk, climb stairs, or make an effort to move around the office and at home.
  • Cool down. After a long tiring day, especially during the summer, revitalize your legs with a cool shower or bath. Avoid extended exposure to heat from sunbathing, hot baths, or the sauna, as excessive heat will cause your veins to dilate and may induce swelling.
  • Elevate your legs. To boost your body’s natural circulation, elevate your legs while you are sitting on the sofa or lying in bed at home. At the office, keep a leg rest under your desk.
  • Control your weight. When you manage your weight with healthy diet and regular exercise, you are less likely to have leg symptoms, such as swelling.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking harms almost every organ of your body and increases the risk of developing varicose veins and associated complications, such as leg ulcers.
  • Wear compression hosiery. Wear compression socks or stockings, especially in risky situations like long lasting travel or immobilization. We offer you a wide range of compression products designed to fit your lifestyle. These products can help improve your blood circulation, increase your energy, and aid in keeping your legs healthy overall. Your health care professional, therapist, or pharmacist can help you determine which product is the best choice for you.

Summary

Any feeling of discomfort in the legs can be a sign of a venous disorder.

Basic medical knowledge on venous disorders

  • With the term Chronic Venous Disorder (CVD) we describe a long-standing condition involving impaired venous return.
  • If vein valves don’t close properly, a reflux results: the blood leaks downwards and stagnates in the vein, thereby leading to venous hypertension. This condition is known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) which may cause edema, skin change, and, in some cases, ulcerations.
  • If left untreated, chronic venous insufficiency can result in the formation of serious disorders, including phlebitis and pulmonary embolism. To distinguish the different manifestations of CVD, the CEAP classification system is used.
  • Acute venous disorders usually occur without pre-existing conditions, but they can also be triggered by chronic venous disorders. In any case, medical treatment is immediately required. Acute venous disorders include superficial thrombophlebitis, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism, post-thrombotic syndrome, and variceal bleeding.

 

 

Further reading