Do you experience sensations of stiffness, heaviness, aching, and tiredness in your legs?
If so, your symptoms of heavy legs may be due to vein disease.
These sensations will occur for most people after intense physical exercise, primarily when leg muscles are targeted. For some, it may be the symptom of an underlying vein condition.
30 Million Americans Are Affected by Vein Disease
If you are experiencing heavy legs, this may be hinting at a condition affecting the veins in your legs. Seeking a medical evaluation and proper diagnosis is key to finding relief for heavy, aching legs.
Below, we will take a look at:
- The possible causes of heavy legs
- Other associated symptoms; and
- What you can do about them
What Causes Heavy Legs?
First, it is essential to uncover the underlying condition triggering your heavy legs. There are several circumstances and conditions that may be the culprit.
Regularly pushing yourself beyond your physical limits can lead to over-training. Overtraining prevents muscles from getting the time they need to rest and repair before being put under physical stress again.
As a result, weak and sluggish muscles will also feel heavy.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Nervousness and anxiety can trigger physical symptoms, such as restless leg syndrome. This syndrome causes uncontrollable movement, shakiness and jitters in the leg muscles while they are at rest. The remedy for this is to move the legs to another position to allow the muscles to relax.
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
PAD is a condition that affects the arteries and veins in the legs. Fatty deposits and calcium build up in the arteries (atherosclerosis) making it difficult for the blood to pass through. The obstructed blood flow triggers symptoms like heavy legs, cramps, and leg ache.
Varicose veins affect the veins in the legs and feet when circulation is poor, preventing blood to flow back to the heart properly. As a result, blood starts to pool in the veins and leg muscles, causing heavy legs and increased risk for blood clots.
According to a study, varicose veins affect 23% of American adults.
What Do Varicose Veins Look Like?
Varicose veins are typically enlarged veins with a bumpy and knotty appearance.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
There are several causes for varicose veins including:
- Hormonal imbalances, especially during pregnancy
- Sitting or standing in one position for too long
- Family history of varicose veins
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)
Veins in the legs and feet have one-way valves that keep the blood from coming back down. In CVI, these valves and veins become weak, causing the blood to pool in the veins and seep into the surrounding leg muscles.
CVI can be more common in people who regularly stand on their feet for long periods.
Symptoms of CVI:
Common leg symptoms of CVI include:
CVI Risk Factors:
- Extra weight put on legs due to obesity and pregnancy
- Physical inactivity
- Lack of exercise
- Poor nutrition
It is important to note that varicose veins, also known as Chronic Venous Insufficiency, increase your risk of blood clots. Early detection and proper, timely treatment is essential to preventing a more severe condition.
Symptoms of Heavy Legs
In addition to heavy legs, vein disease can cause additional symptoms in the legs.
These symptoms include:
- Dull or throbbing pain in the affected area
- Coldness or tingling
- Spider veins
- Difficulty in walking or standing
Pregnancy may increase the likelihood of heavy legs, most likely due to the extra weight pregnancy brings and increased blood volume. Hormonal imbalance may increase water retention, reducing elasticity in the veins, causing them to feel heavy.
Similarly, the extra weight an obese person carries exerts increased pressure and stress on the veins, muscles, joints, and tendons in legs. This can worsen if they have to stand for prolonged periods.
Additional Risk Factors for Heavy Legs:
- Sedentary lifestyle
What Can You Do About Heavy Legs?
Occasional heavy legs, especially after a long day of walking or after substantial physical activity, is normal.
However, persistent heaviness in the legs or heavy legs with other symptoms calls for a medical evaluation.
Dr. Ryan Jones is a board-certified vascular surgeon who has worked on many heavy legs cases and additional venous disorders. Schedule a consultation today to treat heavy legs before they become a more significant risk to your health.