Vein Treatment

Is Massage Good for Varicose Veins

Varicose veins affect over 30 million adults in the United States. These twisted, enlarged veins are often painful and can significantly impact the quality of life. While there are medical treatments available, many people wonder if alternative therapies like massage can provide relief. This article explores the benefits and risks of massage for varicose veins, What are Varicose Veins? Is Massage Good for Varicose veins? professional guidance, Why do Varicose Veins Appear?

Varicose veins affect over 30 million adults, causing pain, swelling, heaviness, and discomfort. While various medical procedures can treat the underlying venous dysfunction, many seek alternative therapies for additional relief from day-to-day symptoms. One option capturing attention recently is massage, long utilized to target muscle tension, blood flow, and general wellness. But can a gentle, methodical massage significantly help ease varicose veins?

Experts suggest a professional massage judiciously applied around varicose veins, not directly on them, can provide measurable comfort benefits for certain individuals. The gentle pressure aids circulation and lymph drainage while relaxing surrounding musculature placing external stress on damaged vessels. This diminishes regional pressure and inflammation. Though limited in scope, these small positive impacts accumulate. Proponents argue massage combined with dedicated self-care complements clinical varicose vein remedies. Critics contend massages risk vein-wall injury without compression garments in place. Disagreements continue, but many report relief using this auxiliary therapy sensible for their varicosity severity. If massage helps even marginally, it warrants consideration for improving everyday quality of life as part of personalized varicose vein management.

What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins form when the valves inside the veins stop working properly. These valves are supposed to keep blood flowing efficiently to the heart. When they malfunction, blood can flow backward and pool inside the veins, causing them to twist, elongate, and bulge.

While varicose veins can develop anywhere in the body, they most often appear in the legs. Contributing risk factors include age, gender, genetics, pregnancy, weight, lack of movement, and a standing occupation.

Varicose veins range from mild visual blemishes to painful protrusions that interfere with daily activities. Complications can include blood clots, skin ulcers, bleeding, and chronic discomfort or pain.

Why do Varicose Veins Appear?

Weak Valves and Vein Walls: Varicose veins form when the small valves inside veins stop working properly or lose structural integrity. These valves are usually open and close to keep blood flowing toward the heart against gravity. When valves become damaged, blood pools and veins excessively expand.


Varicose veins often run in families, indicating a genetic predisposition. Connective tissue disorders impacting collagen such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can cause early-onset varicosities. Certain vein wall abnormalities are inherited as well.


Pregnancy and hormonal shifts from birth control or menopause can degrade tissues and relax vascular muscles, disrupting proper valve function and assisting in pushing blood upward through the body. These changes promote vein swelling.

Increased Blood Volume

Conditions causing higher blood volume or increased pressure in the veins, such as obesity or chronic straining from constipation, heightened odds of vessel and valve damage ultimately producing varicose veins.

Injury and Trauma

Past venous injuries from surgery, significant wounds, deep vein thrombosis clots or phlebitis inflammation can all undermine vascular competency in ways that spawn varicose veins later on.

Standing Occupations

Jobs requiring many hours standing up daily, like nurses, teachers, and retail workers, make developing varicosities more likely over time as gravity strains vein walls.

While non-preventable elements like genetics and gender contribute, mitigating added vein damage through compression socks, improved diet, exercise, and work breaks may help slow varicose progression.

The Potential Benefits of Massage

Could something as simple as massage therapy provide varicose vein relief? Proponents argue it offers several potential benefits:

Improved Circulation

Massage may help stimulate blood flow in the veins and lymph drainage. Manually moving blood along, it could prevent pooling and backflow issues.

A 2015 study found massage improved chronic venous insufficiency, a condition often underlying varicose veins and similar issues. Patients experienced less pain, swelling, fatigue, and other symptoms following massage sessions.

Reduced Pain & Discomfort

Many massage techniques can reduce muscle soreness and body pain, including Swedish massage, sports massage, and trigger point therapy. The increased blood flow and release of natural painkillers may temporarily decrease varicose vein pain.

Decreased Leg Heaviness

A symptom many varicose vein patients report is “heavy legs.” Massage could provide relief by flushing out built-up blood and fluid, stimulating circulation, and relaxing tight leg musculature.

Mental Health Support

Living with varicose veins can negatively impact emotional health over time. Therapeutic massage offers well-documented mental health benefits related to decreased anxiety, reduced depression, and improved self-esteem.

Potential Benefits of Massage Therapy for Varicose Veins

Benefit Explanation
Improved Circulation Moves blood out of veins; prevents pooling
Reduced Pain & Discomfort Releases natural painkillers
Decreased Leg Heaviness Flushes away built-up blood/fluid
Mental Health Support Lowers anxiety and depression

The Risks of Massage on Varicose Veins

Unfortunately, while massage therapy offers some potential perks, it also comes with risks of damage or complications.

Increased Pain

Any direct pressure on swollen varicose veins may heighten pain, inflammation, and discomfort rather than relieve it. The abnormal twists and bulges make varicose veins extremely sensitive.

Blood Clots

Massaging areas with poor circulation already prone to blood clots, like varicose veins, could dislodge clots. They may then travel to other areas of the body and block critical blood flow.


If surface varicose veins have grown severely enlarged and twisted, they often lack structural integrity and robust protective muscle coverings. Vigorous massage could rupture these fragile vessels and lead to bleeding complications.

Spreading of Toxins

Damaged varicose veins leak waste products into nearby leg tissues. Any massage pressure or movement could further spread these irritating toxins through other areas of the legs.

Risks and Dangers of Massage Therapy on Varicose Veins

Risk Cause for Concern
Increased Pain Pressure on twisted veins worsens discomfort
Blood Clots Could dislodge existing clots to travel elsewhere
Bleeding Fragile varicose veins may rupture
Spread of Toxins Forces toxins into surrounding leg tissue

Professional Guidance Recommended

Can massage provide real relief for varicose veins in some situations? And are the risks overblown in mild cases? Unfortunately research hasn’t yet definitively answered these questions.

The few small studies on massage and varicose veins have significant limitations. Documented case reports detail instances of massage triggering bleeding, blood clots, and extreme pain in these patients.

Much depends on the severity of your varicose veins, your risk factors, and the massage methods used. Because dangerous complications can occur, don’t attempt massaging varicose veins yourself without professional instruction.

Instead, consult your doctor to see if a gentle massage regimen could help your specific situation. Ask for referrals to therapists highly trained in varicose vein massage protocols. They can evaluate your veins, alert you to any red flags, and design a customized treatment plan.

With the right precautions, some varicose vein patients may indeed benefit from careful, strategic massage work. But never attempt massaging compromised veins yourself without an expert assessment first.

Is Massage Good for Varicose Veins

Massage can be beneficial for varicose veins in several ways, though it’s important to exercise caution and understand its limitations as well. Here are some key points about how massage potentially helps varicose veins:

  • Improves circulation – Gentle massage helps stimulate blood flow in the legs and feet. This aids venous blood return to the heart against gravity, taking pressure off swollen varicose veins.
  • Reduces pain and heaviness – Massaging areas around varicose veins can relieve achiness, tension or feelings of fatigue in the lower limbs associated with vascular disorders.
  • Decreases swelling – Light massage movements assist the body’s lymphatic drainage system in reducing fluid buildup in tissues that contribute to bulging varicose veins.
  • Relaxes muscles – Massage loosens up tight calf muscles and body tension that can exert extraneous pressure on delicate varicose blood vessels.

However, massage focusing directly on large, severely dilated varicose veins can possibly lead to vein wall trauma or dislodged blood clots – exacerbating inflammation and pain instead. Gentle support stockings or bandages over bulging vessels may allow safer localized massage.

Overall when done judiciously by an experienced massage therapist, this complementary therapy offers substantial comfort and control benefits. But massage cannot eliminate existing varicose veins on its own without medical treatment. Self-massage around venous areas using light pressure may complement clinical approaches targeting the root causes of this venous disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to get a massage if I have varicose veins?

Generally yes, as long as the massage avoids directly manipulating severely dilated veins. Compression stockings over bulges provide further precautions. Discuss varicosities with your therapist.

What massage techniques are most helpful?

Gentle strokes that aid circulation, relax muscles, and improve drainage are ideal, like Swedish massage or light lymphatic drainage. Deep tissue massage directly on varicose veins is discouraged.

Are there any risks of getting varicose vein massages?

Rarely small vessels may burst from direct pressure during massage without proper protective garments. Existing blood clots also pose dangers if dislodged. Discuss medical history beforehand to avoid problems.

When will I see results on varicose vein pain and appearance from massage?

Some find minimal relief initially but cumulative effects build with regular monthly sessions, improving ache and swelling most noticeably after 2-3 months alongside self-care. Visible shrinkage is unlikely from massage alone.

Can massage fully heal or remove varicose veins?

Unfortunately no. Damaged valves and weakened vein walls cause most varicose veins will persist without corrective medical procedures. But massage can lessen associated discomforts.

What factors impact massage benefits for this condition?

Consistency matters greatly. Massage is not a cure-all so managing expectations is key. Concurrent lifestyle changes like movement, compression stockings, and nutrition boost outcomes.

Can you provide any massage on varicose veins yourself?

 No, you should never attempt massaging varicose veins yourself. Leave it to a specialized professional.

How can you find a qualified massage therapist to work on varicose veins?

Ask your doctor for therapist referrals. Verify credentials indicating advanced varicose vein training.

Are there alternative medicine options other than massage to ease varicose vein discomfort?

A: Yes, consult your doctor about compression stockings, supplements, acupuncture, elevation, and gentle exercise options that may help.

Last Words

Varicose veins respond unpredictably to massage pressure. In some cases, it seems to offer symptomatic relief by flushing blood out of overloaded vessels, relaxing muscles, and blocking pain. However, damaged veins may also rupture, develop clots, or leak further under the stress.

Work only with credentialed therapists specially trained in delicate varicose vein massage protocols. Never attempt DIY massaging on protruding twisted veins that lack structural integrity. With professional guidance, massage may provide a gentle complement to traditional varicose vein treatments in managing discomfort. But proceed carefully due to the real risks involved.


My name is Selina, a medical specialist blogger helping people access treatment for 5+ years. Although blogging awhile, only recently deeply engaged. This past year my most productive, providing hospital reviews and info on symptoms, diagnoses and diseases. Also offer guidelines to help readers navigate healthcare. Goal to continue increased content pace to assist many. Aim to facilitate treatment and empower advocacy through writing.

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