Leg Veins and Pain After Exercise

It's not uncommon to experience fatigue or soreness in your legs and muscles after vigorous exercise — but it's not common for them to continue to hurt. Exercise is one of the top ways to prevent varicose veins or stop them from getting worse. However, if you feel pain in your leg's veins, take measures to ensure that it's not a serious problem.

Leg veins and pain sometimes go hand in hand after exercise. (Image: zlikovec/iStock/GettyImages)

Potential Symptoms

Pain in your legs during and after exercise may take one of several forms. It can develop gradually or suddenly or it can be intermittent or continuous. You may feel a sharp stabbing or more of a dull ache or tingling throughout your leg or in a specific area, such as your ankle, calf or shin. There are several circulatory conditions that can cause these symptoms, each requiring different treatments.

Claudication

Claudication is a pain caused by too little blood flow during exercise, although as it gets worse, it can continue to cause problems even after exercise. It's often a symptom of peripheral artery disease due to atherosclerosis, where clumps of fat, cholesterol and other material called plaques build up inside your blood vessels. Your doctor may prescribe medications or angioplasty, using an inflatable balloon fed through the affected vessel to widen it.

Exertional Compartment Syndrome

You have sheets of connective tissues under the skin in your legs that wrap around muscles, nerves and blood vessels, forming a unit known as a compartment. If pressure builds up within these compartments, it disrupts blood flow to your muscles, causing pain. To solve the problem, you may only need rest or a change in your exercise routine, but in extreme cases, surgery is required.

Spider Veins

Spider veins, or varicose veins, are veins that become enlarged and turn blue or red and look like tree branches or twisted, bulging cords. They are caused by weak valves in your blood vessels, allowing blood to back up and pool inside the veins. Although usually harmless, they can cause significant pain, especially during and immediately following exercise.

To treat symptoms, you can use compression stockings. To get rid of the affected areas, however, your doctor may use sclerotherapy, where a liquid chemical is injected into the vein, surface laser treatments, radiofrequency treatments or surgery.

Thrombophlebitis

Blood clots can sometimes form in the veins in your legs, a condition called thrombophlebitis. Sometimes the clot is close to the surface of a vein, which is superficial thrombophlebitis, but other times it's found deep inside a vein, known as deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. Superficial thrombophlebitis usually goes away on its own and is relatively harmless.

A DVT is potentially life-threatening, as it can break out and travel through your veins to other parts of your body like your heart, lung and brain. If you are diagnosed with DVT, your doctor will prescribe blood thinners, and you may need to wear support stockings, have a vena cava filter implanted in your abdomen, or have surgery to remove the clot.

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