Varicose veins in legs

Varicose veins in legs mostly are just unsightly and nothing more.

I write this week not because varicose veins really come into the domain of Chiropractor Help, but for two reasons. The first is because many people associate the pain in their legs with their varicose veins;

And secondly because of my interest in honey. More specifically raw honey ... there's a big difference between raw honey, and what you buy in the supermarket. Yes, there are natural cures for varicose veins, and in particularly varicose ulcers.

In short, if you have lower back AND leg pain then don't assume the pain and tingling in your leg comes from the varicose veins in legs.

This page was last updated by Dr Barrie Lewis on 21st July, 2019.

Cause of varicose veins

In the legs there are valves in the veins so that, when the action of  the muscles in the legs squeezes them, the venous blood (low in oxygen) is squeezed upwards towards the heart.

If these valves fail, the blood sinks back down and pools in the lower legs, increasing the pressure in the veins.

Varicose veins in legs

Normally there is a pressure gradient between the veins and arteries.

Arteries must have higher pressure, veins lower, for the normal pumping of blood through the vascular system. If this gradient decreases significantly then you are at risk of getting varicose veins ulcers.

This is complex medical science that I won't bore you with, but to gain relief from varicose ulcers you do need some understanding of what is happening.

When the varicose veins in legs become serious due to the rising venous pressure, various substance leak out of the blood vessels into the tissues of the lower limbs, in particular, though you can get varicose veins elsewhere; haemorrhoids, for example.

This prevents oxygen and nutrients from reaching the muscles in the lower leg and said parts begins to die, releasing free radicals and other inflammatory factors into the tissues, further inflaming the layers under the skin.

In the same way that hyaline cartilage in your joints requires nutrients and oxygen, so does skin, the largest organ in the body.

In the joints it is spinal fixations (subluxations) that causes hypoxia. The result is Immobilisation Arthritis. In the legs the cause of the hypoxia is an increase in venous pressure and the result is very painful varicose veins ulcers. They occur mainly on the inner lower limb.

Varicose veins in legs

Varicose veins in legs are unsightly but what are the risk factors of developing an ulcer? That's a lot more serious.

Varicose ulcer


What is very difficult is that, after a period of oxygen and nutrient starvation (called ischemia in medical terms), the restoration of blood circulation in itself causes inflammation in the tissues, further aggravating an already bad situation. Free radicals are released... bad news.

That's one of the major problems associated with brain injury too after heart failure, stroke and even after loss of blood flow to the brain during an anaesthetic.

The tissues don't like repeated bouts of ischemia (low oxygen) followed by re-perfusion. And that's exactly what happens in bad varicose veins.

Home remedies for varicose veins ulcers; raising the legs.

You're damned if you do, and if you don't. Raising the legs allows the venous pressure in the lower legs to drop, and the arterial blood starts flowing again. Re-perfusion, in medical terms, but further injury occurs as the inflammatory substances are released into the tissues just below the skin, causing break down of the skin: varicose ulcers.

What you really need to avoid is repeated ischemia followed by re-perfusion. Don't stand in one place, as in washing the dishes, for long periods. Walk on the spot, contracting and relaxing the calf muscles repeatedly.


The standard medical treatment is compression. Compression bandages prevent the reflux of venous blood back into the lower legs keeping the arterial pressure higher than the blood pressure in the veins.

Uncomfortable though they may be, it works, and is still the conservative treatment of choice. Cure varicose veins unfortunately doesn't exist and once they have become chronic, the condition needs to be controlled, or the dangers of varicose veins can be an ugly painful nightmare. Varicose ulcers ....


Research reported in J Vascular Surgery (2009) compared two groups of patients with varicose veins, the one with ulceration, the other not.

The risk factors for ulceration that were found are:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Restricted ankle movement
  • Reduced calf muscle pump power
  • Bites from snakes or spiders for example.

Whilst not part of this research, it's generally acknowledged that prolonged standing further increases the pooling of blood in the lower legs. Walking benefits abound on the other hand.



1. Prevention is the best cure. It's easy to say, but stop smoking NOW, and... start these home remedies for varicose veins ulcers sooner rather than later. VARICOSE VEINS AND HERBS - an incredible natural solution to varicose veins ulcers. The main ingredient... yes, honey.

Stop smoking permanently has been an astonishingly successful programme. Add at least ten years to life, ten GOOD YEARS.

2. If your BMI is above 30...

... then confirmed research is that the easiest and safest way to lose weight to is cut the carbs in your diet. Fruit excepted, but perhaps enjoy less sweet fruit. The phytosterols in fruit are so beneficial in the fight against cancer and many other chronic disease that you dare not cut back on fruit.

This carbohydrate count chart and Glycemic Index explanation will make the unassailable Everest of losing weight achievable. After all, all you need to achieve is base camp...

Our Free weight loss programs are based on the research of how to lose weight permanently and in a healthy way. No gimics, no high protein shakes, no huge expense ... nothing to go out and buy except healthy food. Foods with low carbohydrate...

Scale help

3. Ankle Joint pain is a central issue in many chiropractic practices, but not all. If you have ankle pain and foot pain issues, together with varicose veins in legs then be assured: they are connected.

4. Rehabilitating that calf muscle injury is really not rocket science. It simply involves stretching and exercising your calf. Heard of walking benefits ...? That would include restoring the muscle pump power in your lower leg.

Achilles stretch
Ankle Achilles exercise

Chiropractic help

Why this page on varicose veins in legs on a chiropractic help website, you may be thinking.

The reason is fairly simple. Many women, in particular, associate the pain in their legs to the unsightly varicose veins, when in fact the cause lies elsewhere.

Sciatica, an impingement of the sciatic nerve, usually attacks the calf muscles, ah... reduced calf muscle pump power. There's a simple Slump Test for Sciatica that you can do at home...

Either it's really lower back and leg pain or very occasionally intermittent claudication, a blockage on the arterial side of the circulation, a condition that primarily smokers get.

Recently I had a patient with an aching leg. On closer examination I discovered a lump in the popliteal fossa behind the knee. Was it a Baker's cyst, or a clot? Eight years previously he had been bitten by a black mamber; an ultrasound scan soon revealed it was a deep vein thrombosis, not something for a chiropractor to mess with.

Of course, old fracture of sprain causing ankle joint pain also frequently radiates into the calf muscles, or into the ball of the foot. In fact there are many causes of leg pain, and one should not fall into the trap of assuming that unsightly varicose veins in legs are the cause of the pain. Shin splints ... and many other chiropractic help conditions.

  • Intermittent claudication .... a fun story, enjoy. This man had thigh pain when cycling, and calf pain when walking. The pain ceased the moment he stopped exercising. I wonder why...?
Intermittent claudication


Whilst I know of no research, and Pubmed likewise brings up no results, omega-3 oils are very powerful natural anti inflammatories. So powerful that, if left on old rags, it's been known to spontaneously burst into flames as the fatty acids are themselves oxidised.

I suggest there is a strong possibility that fish oil, freshly ground flax seed and freshly cracked nuts such as walnuts and pecans might contribute greatly. Healthy stuff to enjoy in any case.

Flax seeds

There's a knack to shelling pecans. You can easily crack three nuts in one minute with a little practice, enough to go on your cereal. Remember the keyword is "freshly shelled, freshly ground, freshly caught." Omega-3 goes rancid very rapidly once exposed to air.


Varicose veins in legs is really just a variant of atherosclerosis, a disease of the blood vessels. A killer, it shortens life by decades. Since it's irreversible, prevention is the key.

Adding certain foodstuffs to the diet is the solution: understanding pathophysiology of atherosclerosis aka arteriosclerosis is important;  it's not rocket science, and this page written for the layperson, despite the jaw-breaking title. Sudden death. Prevent it!

To find links to the topics in bold copy and paste them into the site search function in the navigation bar on your left.

Pathophysiology of atherosclerosis

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

Do you have a problem that is not getting better?

Are you looking for a different slant on your pain?

Do you want to pose a question?

The Twelve days of Warning

Caldwell and Judge

(sung to the tune of "The Twelve days of Christmas)

  • On the 1st day of warning, the government said to me:

Change to a lower tar brand 

  • On the 2nd day of warning, the government said to me:

Take fewer puffs, And change to a lower tar brand

  • On the 3rd day of warning, the government said to me:

Leave a longer stub, Take fewer puffs, And change to a lower tar brand.

  • On the 4th day of warning, the government said to me:

Chronic heart disease,  Leave a longer stub, Take fewer puffs, And change to a lower tar brand.

  • On the 5th day of warning, the government said to me: 

Inhale less, Chronic heart disease, Leave a longer stub, Take fewer puffs, And change to a lower tar brand.

  • On the 6th day of warning, the government said to me:

Up go the taxes, Inhale less, Chronic heart disease, Leave a longer stub, Take fewer puffs, And change to a lower tar brand

  • On the 7th day of warning, the government sang to me: Tarry tarry lungs, furry furry tongues, Nasty yellow fingers, Everywhere I go, ashtrays overflow, A cancer victim lingers, In appalling vein.

Up go the taxes, Inhale less, Chronic heart disease, Leave a longer stub, Take fewer puffs, And change to a lower tar brand.

  • On the 8th day of warning, the government put its face right up to mine and said:

Horrid foetid breath, In appalling vein, Up go the taxes, Inhale less, Chronic heart disease, Leave a longer stub, Take fewer puffs, And change to a lower tar brand.

  • On the 9th day of warning, the government tried sex:

Nice girls don’t like it, Horrid foetid breath, In appalling vein, Up go the taxes, Inhale less, Chronic heart disease, Leave a longer stub, Take fewer puffs, And change to a lower tar brand.

  • And on the 10th day, the government hath remembered the 6th day and were exceeding glad:

Higher taxes yet, Nice girls don’t like it, Horrid foetid breath, In appalling vein, Up go the taxes, Inhale less, Chronic heart disease, Leave a longer stub, Take fewer puffs, And change to a lower tar brand.

  • On the 11th day of warning, the government had Saatchi & Saatchi in who came up with this witty ditty:  

Set yourself on fire

You’ll be left to die

a social pariah

Afflicted as predicted

Hopelessly addicted

Soon to be evicted

Loss of erection

Pain and dejection

Cancer and infection

Mental confusion

Blood and contusion

Pus in profusion

No buts or maybes

Kills unborn babies

Herpes, AIDS and rabies

Higher taxes yet

Nice girls don’t like it

Horrid foetid breath

In appalling vein

Up go the taxes

Inhale less

Chronic heart disease

Leave a longer stub

Take fewer puffs

And change to a lower tar brand

  • On the 12th day of warning I said to the government: (Cough cough collapse)

    With thanks to Dr Robert Caldwell, eminent physician specialist, comedian and performer, and Jeff Judge, musician.

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.

You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70 percent of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there is a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong. Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what a DC does.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my eBooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful from the life and work of a chiropractor, you will love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the amount without telling me.