run-750466_960_720The physicians at Premier Vein Clinics in Knoxville have one answer when asked if athletes can get varicose veins — “Yes!” In fact, we’ve treated tennis players, runners, cyclists and hikers for varicose veins and they commonly ask why they have varicose veins if they’re healthy and active. It’s a good question.

It helps to understand what causes varicose veins, and why anyone can develop them. The veins in our legs are designed with one-way valves to pump blood up to the heart. When the one-way valves become weak, blood pools in the vein which eventually results in increased pressure that can cause swelling and pain – a varicose vein.

Although prolonged sitting, such as for cyclists and standing, such as for runners, can affect circulation and add pressure to veins, other more significant factors are responsible for varicose veins. The most common risk factor for varicose veins is genetics. If your family members had or have varicose veins, chances are higher that you will too.

Hormonal influences are another common source of varicose veins, which is why many women experience varicose veins during pregnancy and menopause. It’s true that weight gain and extra pressure on the legs during varicose veins can also attribute to the development of varicose veins.

Age is the other main culprit, despite one’s activity level. From the day you’re born, the veins in your legs begin working against gravity to pump blood back to the heart. Over time the valves in the veins may weaken, allowing blood to pool and cause varicose veins.

The bottom line is that anyone can get varicose veins, which is why they’re so common. Nearly half of the U.S. population over the age of 50 has some form of varicose veins. Athletes typically seek treatment when the condition begins to hinder their performance or enjoyment of a sport. Many athletes say their legs feel great while exercising but afterwards they may ache, throb, or swell uncomfortably.

There are many options for the treatment of diseased veins and your best option depends on the severity of your condition, your preference, and desired outcomes. The most important aspect to consider is that you don’t need to put up with the discomfort your varicose veins are causing, and that you can continue to enjoy your physical activities at your optimal level.

We are offering free varicose vein screenings for qualified candidates through August, 2016, at our Premier Surgical Papermill location. So if you are suffering from pain or swelling in your legs, request an appointment for a free screening with one of the local board certified vascular surgeons at Premier Vein Clinics in Knoxville. Don’t let another season pass by before restoring your healthy legs, free of varicose veins.