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Why Are Healthcare Workers Vein at Risk for Vein Problems?

While you spend your entire day caring for patients, your vein health may be suffering. Among healthcare workers, vein health is a seldom discussed topic that deserves attention because the medical field can be so physically demanding. If you’re a healthcare professional, take a minute to think about your own leg health.

What Puts Medical Professionals' Vein Health at Risk?

Like any other profession that requires you to spend long hours on your feet, medical professionals' vein health may suffer. Over time, the continual pressure on your legs can cause veins to dilate, the walls to weaken and eventual valve damage. Spider veins and varicose veins may result.

Women make up the large majority of nurses and healthcare workers. As a woman, you are also more likely to develop vein conditions due to pregnancy and hormones. Hormones (progesterone) relax vein walls, allowing them to dilate. If you take hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills, these may also increase your tendency to develop varicose veins.

If you're a nurse or doctor, long days make it one of the more at-risk professions for developing venous issues. Veins are damaged after spending many hours on your feet, and these professions often require 12-hour shifts. Nursing may also require you to lift and help support patients, adding extra strain to your legs. We see many nurses and physicians as patients.

Continual pressure on medical professional's legs are the main cause of issues
Working in the medical profession can increase your chances of developing vein disease, particularly if you’re working long, 12-hour shifts on your feet.

"I have had leg swelling for years and I never knew that I could do anything about it."

— Martin Chaney

How Can Nurses Enhance Their Vein Health?

Nursing is an inherently physical profession, but there are ways you can help alleviate the stress on your legs:

  • Rest your legs for a few minutes when possible by elevating them on break.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that provide cushioning and support.
  • Exercise often, especially in water, to strengthen your legs and relieve the gravitational pressure on your veins.
  • Keep a healthy weight to avoid putting unnecessary stress on your legs and veins.
  • Elevate your feet after your shift to relieve leg swelling and aid venous return.
  • Wear graduated compression. TED stockings are inadequate.

These are all things our team as health professionals practice at Vascular Vein Centers.

What Is the Most Important Preventative Measure for Medical Professionals?

Of all your options, the compression stocking is the most significant. Compression stockings should provide graduated compression, which is strongest at the ankle and lessens as it reaches higher up the leg. TED stockings are not sufficient because they only have a maximum of 15 mm Hg compression, which is not adequate. Nurses, OR staff and surgeons need 20-30 mm Hg graduated compression over the calf. Thigh length is an option but isn’t necessary.

Get a pair today and start supporting your vein health on your very next shift. You can find your perfect stocking size now with our online sizing tool.

Do you have the warning signs and symptoms of vein disease?

Take this short, five-question quiz to find out if you’re at risk.

Top half of a smiling woman in scrubs writing on a clipboard


Do your legs often feel tired and heavy?