Medicine Myths

blog legsMedicine is full of myths, truths, and a lot of ‘between the lines’ interpretation. With all the wonders of modern technology it is still called the “practice of medicine”. Venous disease is part of the practice of medicine and therefore, not any different. I learn something new and interesting every day. Here are some of the myths and truths that are out there regarding varicose vein disease.

I have stood on concrete for years thus my veins are bad.

– While it is true that standing all day increases your venous pressure and reduces venous return, there is no difference between standing on concrete, dirt, feathers, or a bed of gold. Yes, if I were given the choice I would pick the gold, but standing is standing and it is the true enemy. Remember your biggest weapon against standing is frequent position change, proper compression, and walking when allowed.

My pregnancies caused my bad veins.

-I, too, like to blame my kids for as much as I can, but pregnancy really just unmasks your true genetic potential and adds a little kerosene to the fire, so to speak. Pregnancy makes your veins worsen by unleashing hormones on the venous system causing them to relax. Pregnancy also increases intra-abdominal pressure, causes you to be more sedentary, and is associated with leg swelling. All of these factors play a part in making varicose and spider veins worse. Again, compression garments are your biggest and best weapon. They won’t cure your problem, but will help slow the process down until you can get proper treatment.

What if I need to use this vein in the future?

-We don’t treat or get rid of normal, functional veins. The veins that are broken or insufficient are not suitable for other uses. They serve not physiologic or anatomical purpose and will only continue to worsen over time.

My veins keep coming back.

-Well, this one of those little half truths. Varicose vein disease is a slow progressive problem. Treatment can markedly slow down the disease progression, but will not cure it. So when it looks like the “old veins” are back it is most likely new broken ones rearing their ugly head instead.

I have tried over the counter supplements for my veins and not sure if they help. I see advertisements for vein pills and creams do they work?

-Supplementation is an evolving field in all of medicine. Over the counter vein products come in cream and pill form. Most of their evidence is anecdotal or comes from other countries. They report findings like reduction in size, reduced swelling and less leg pain. The patients I have had who have tried these remedies have not had any real help from them. This is a continually changing area that will have to be studied and monitored. But, remember if it seems too good to be true, it most likely is.

Remember the old adages that have rang true for years in medicine and everyday life: eat right, drink in moderation, exercise regularly, be pro-active, find the enjoyment in the little things, do not take anything for granted and honor your family and faith. These things will keep you on the truth side of life.

Dr Barbieri