Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are usually dark blue or purple and tend to have a lumpy appearance. While not usually dangerous, they can cause discomfort and there are some theories that they can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, says the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Certain hand exercises may help reduce the appearance of varicose veins and ease the tenderness and possible nerve pressure associated with them.
About Varicose Veins
Your veins carry blood back to the heart, and as it has to travel uphill, small valves inside the veins are needed to prevent the blood from flowing backward, says the UK's National Health Service. Varicose veins occur when these valves stop working, allowing blood to flow backward and accumulate, causing the veins to become swollen. While they are most common in your legs and feet, varicose veins can occur anywhere in the body, including your hands. Even though the link between varicose veins and carpal tunnel syndrome needs further investigation, says the National Center for Biotechnology Information, hand exercises can be useful in treating both conditions.
The most common causes of varicose veins are age, and gender -- they are more common in women -- being overweight or pregnant and poor circulation, says Holisticonline.com. All of these conditions cause your veins to become less elastic and place extra pressure on them, meaning they have to work harder and are more prone to wear and tear, such as the valves becoming weaker. Another possible cause of varicose veins is repetitive activities that require you to stay in the same position or place strain on a single body part for long periods of time, therefore preventing the blood from flowing properly. This is also a common factor in carpal tunnel syndrome.
About Hand Exercises
Hand exercises work by pumping the muscles and veins to encourage blood flow and help drain accumulated blood away from the affected veins, says Holisticonline.com. Stretching your wrists and fingers is particularly useful for reducing stiffness and improving circulation. When performing hand exercises for varicose veins or carpal tunnel, don't force the movements -- this can aggravate your condition.
Hand and Finger Stretches
A good exercise for stretching your palm and fingers is to bend the fingers of one hand back, one by one, then all at once, says Stretch Now. Repeat the stretches on the other hand then do the same exercise for your thumb, gently bending it forward and back to stretch down the inside of your hand and wrist. Another good way to stretch and mobilize your fingers is to stretch them out as far as you can, then make a tight fist, curling your fingers in as much as you can.
A simple stretch for your wrist involves placing your hands together in prayer position then raising your elbows out to your sides so your wrists drop down towards your navel, says Stretch Now. This gives you a nice stretch down the insides of your wrists. As well as doing specific exercises for your hands and wrists, Holisticonline.com recommends maintaining a general level of fitness to stimulate overall circulation. Massaging your hands regularly throughout the day may also help drain pooled blood away from varicose veins.
While varicose veins don't usually require medical attention, you should consult your doctor if yours become painful, start to bleed, change color from blue to red or the veins become so swollen that you find it difficult to move your hands. Any hand exercises should be performed in combination with a healthy, low-salt diet to further reduce strain on your veins.