Should You Go for a Massage If You Have Varicose Veins?

legs getting massaged

Table of Contents

  • Don’t Massage Varicose Veins Directly
  • Don’t Subject Your Body to Rough Massage and Friction 
  • Do Try Gentle Massage Across Other Areas of the Body
  • Do Incorporate Lymphatic Drainage Into Your Treatment
  • Do Try Essential Oils to Relieve Varicose Veins Symptoms
  • Do Seek the Advice of a Vein Specialist

Your veins are delicate. Know the dos and don’ts of varicose veins and massage.

Varicose veins symptoms can be uncomfortable and leave you longing for relief. Your legs may ache or feel heavy. In severe cases, you may even experience burning or throbbing sensations. Because massage can relieve pain and promote circulation, varicose veins and massage seem like an intuitive match. However, before you book your next appointment, there are some things you need to know. 

Certain forms of therapeutic massage can help patients, including pregnant women. Other forms could negatively affect varicose veins, making them worse. Knowing more about varicose veins and massage will spare you unnecessary suffering and help you get the relief you need.

Don’t Massage Varicose Veins Directly

Massage is contraindicated for varicose veins, themselves. Direct pressure risks harming already weak veins. In the worst-case scenario, massage could result in blood clots being released into circulation and creating a pulmonary embolism. 

Traditional therapeutic massage often backfires when applied to varicose veins. One common cause of discomfort associated with damaged veins is lymphedema — localized swelling that occurs because of the circulatory system’s failure to adequately drain lymph fluid. The friction from massage increases local blood supply and results in more lymph being produced, ultimately increasing the swelling. 

Don’t Subject Your Body to Rough Massage and Friction 

Your masseuse should keep your skin well lubricated, ensuring that their hands glide instead of tug. Also, light pressure is best. Your masseuse should not include any of the following techniques: cross-fiber friction, wringing, percussion, or stripping. 

Do Try Gentle Massage Across Other Areas of the Body

While the veins should not be directly manipulated, gentle massage can still offer some relief, stimulating blood flow throughout the body. Make sure that your masseuse is aware of your condition and has experience working around it. 

Do Incorporate Lymphatic Drainage Into Your Treatment

Lymphatic drainage offers the most benefits for people suffering from varicose veins. By stimulating the lymph vessels, a qualified therapist can help them to find new pathways to drain excess lymph fluid away from the swollen area.  

Your therapist should work to drain the area above the veins — as opposed to handling the veins themselves. They should use light strokes with flat fingers or palms to gently express the fluid. Movement should proceed toward the heart.

Do Try Essential Oils to Relieve Varicose Veins Symptoms

Add essential oils to your massage for potential extra relief. Oil is a great lubricant, and adding a few drops of the following essences may increase the therapeutic benefits of your massage. You can also try these at home, adding them to a diffuser or applying them topically. 

If you want to apply any essential topically, you need to use a carrier oil — a neutral oil that can be applied to the skin without dilution. For example, you can use coconut oil or avocado oil. Mix a few drops of essential oil into a small bottle of the carrier oil.

It’s important to note that all of these oils need further study before they can be widely promoted as a treatment. However, they may provide some relief. There is little danger when they are used properly.

Lavender Essential Oil

The best part of treating yourself with lavender oil is that you don’t need to do anything more than inhale. The scent of lavender is thought to release brain chemicals associated with pain relief. 

You can incorporate a couple of drops of lavender into a body cream or oil or surround yourself with the fragrance in other ways. 

Citrus Essential Oils

Citrus oils – such as lemon, grapefruit, lime, and mandarin – are popularly thought to stimulate the lymphatic system. They also have diuretic properties and can encourage your body to eliminate waste through the urinary tract.

However, be careful with sun exposure following the application of citrus. These oils cause photosensitivity for twelve hours following contact and cause a rash if the skin is left uncovered.

Geranium Essential Oil

Geranium oil operates upon the lymphatic system similarly to citrus oils. Also, it has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for the skin.

Horse Chestnut Essential Oil

You can either ingest horse chestnut essential oil as tablets or tinctures, or you can apply it topically, adding a couple of drops to your carrier oil of choice.

In at least one study, horse chestnut oil provided some relief to patients with varicose veins.

Grape Vine Essential Oil

Grape vine oil is best ingested in dosages not to exceed 720 mg a day. Doing so may help reduce lower leg swelling associated with venous insufficiency and varicose veins.

Yarrow Essential Oil

Yarrow is a traditional folk remedy for varicose veins. Its essential oil can be applied to the skin above the veins and may provide some relief.

Do Seek the Advice of a Vein Specialist

You should speak to a vein specialist, especially if you’re still wondering, “Are varicose veins dangerous when massaged?” 

It is important to recognize that while these massage techniques may provide temporary relief, they will not cure the condition. There is no surface cure for varicose veins. Talk to a vein specialist about treatment options for varicose veins today.

Use My Vein Treatment’s vein specialist locator tool to find a doctor near you. Get the medical advice you need and the relief you deserve. 

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