Can Varicose Veins Cause Leg Cramps?

A woman holding her cramping leg due to varicose veins

Varicose veins come with a slew of symptoms that can be mildly annoying or downright disruptive to everyday life. Many people with vein disease complain of discomfort in their lower limbs, but do varicose veins cause leg cramps?

Let’s explore the relationship between varicose veins and leg cramps and, most importantly, what you can do to find relief.

Understanding the Link between Varicose Veins and Leg Cramps

Varicose veins and leg discomfort go hand-in-hand for many people, including varicose veins and leg cramps.

Varicose veins occur when the valves within your veins stop working properly. This causes blood to regurgitate or trickle the wrong way and pool, which results in your veins becoming larger and twisted [1].

The pooled blood from this malfunction can cause several symptoms. When describing what varicose veins feel like, many people report discomfort, swelling, and aching, which might contribute to cramps[2].

Do you have varicose veins pain at night? Some people who experience leg cramps are told they have restless leg syndrome (RLS), an uncontrollable urge to move the legs involving uncomfortable tingling, itching, or crawling, especially at night. However, RLS is a neurological disorder; many people with leg cramps actually have underlying vein disease[3].

When your leg cramps are caused by vein disease, the problem goes both ways. Muscle cramps can worsen varicose veins by impairing circulation and putting pressure on the walls of your veins. 

Risk Factors and Complications of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are common and can happen to anyone, though several risk factors increase the likelihood[4]

  • Genetics: If your parents have varicose veins, you may have a genetic predisposition to weakened veins or malfunctioning valves. 
  • Age: Varicose veins are more likely as we age because of normal wear-and-tear, which can reduce vein efficiency. 
  • Gender: Women are more likely to get varicose veins because of the hormonal changes experienced during seasons like pregnancy and menopause that can weaken veins.
  • Weight: Obesity puts more pressure on the veins, working against proper blood flow.
  • Pregnancy: During pregnancy, hormones change, blood volume increases, and a growing uterus exerts extra pressure on the pelvic veins. This impairs blood flow and can weaken vein walls. 
  • Prolonged sitting or standing: If your career requires sitting or standing for a long time, this can put pressure on your veins and negatively affect blood flow.  
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Inactivity promotes poor circulation and blood pooling, worsening vein valve dysfunction.

If you have varicose veins leg cramps — or think you do — it’s important to have them evaluated. Untreated varicose veins could lead to complications like [5]:

  • Chronic venous insufficiency
  • Skin changes (discoloration, dryness, or inflammation)
  • Venous ulcers (non-healing wounds, typically on the lower legs)
  • Superficial thrombophlebitis (inflammation and blood clots in veins close to your skin)
  • Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot formation in deep veins, which can lead to life-threatening pulmonary embolism)
  • Bleeding from varicose veins
  • Lipodermatosclerosis (hardening and thickening of skin)
  • Itchy, red skin around veins
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Reduced quality of life

An expert assessment of your veins can ensure you receive an appropriate diagnosis and intervention. 

Can Home Remedies Help Ease the Discomfort?

While home remedies can’t cure underlying disease, certain things can help alleviate symptoms of varicose veins leg cramps. This involves a multifaceted approach to help improve circulation and reduce pain and discomfort. 

Helpful home remedies for varicose vein discomfort include [6]

  • Regular exercise: Make walking, swimming, biking, playing tennis, jogging, or cycling a regular part of your routine. Moving your body supports healthy circulation and can help reduce leg swelling and discomfort. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Extra weight puts pressure on your body and can irritate varicose veins. Prioritize exercise, nutrition, and portion control to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Elevate the legs: Elevating your legs above heart level when resting on the couch or in bed can reduce swelling and improve blood flow.
  • Wear compression stockings: Do compression socks help with cramps? Yes! Compression stockings apply gentle pressure to your legs, promoting better circulation and reducing discomfort. These are especially helpful during activities that cause you the most trouble, such as long travel days or sitting for a long time. 
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water increases blood volume and improves circulation.
  • Don’t smoke: If you smoke, quit. Smoking worsens varicose veins by constricting blood vessels, reducing blood flow, and impairing circulation. 
  • Apply moderate heat: Using warm compresses or soaking in a bath can help relax muscles, reduce swelling, and support blood flow, which should alleviate some discomfort.

Before you try home remedies, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are pregnant, seek guidance from a healthcare provider.

When Should I Consult a Healthcare Professional?

Consult a healthcare professional if you’re concerned about your health — no matter what it is. Providers are here to help you navigate your health and offer individually tailored guidance. 

If you are having any pain or cramps in your legs, you might be wondering can varicose veins cause leg cramps? It’s possible. If you have varicose veins and have ongoing or worsening symptoms, like pain, swelling, or skin changes in your legs, or are pregnant and have varicose veins for the first time, seek medical guidance right away. Immediate attention is also necessary if you develop obvious complications.

Modern Treatments for Varicose Veins and Related Leg Cramps

If home remedies aren’t enough or you’re experiencing worsening symptoms, a vein specialist can help evaluate what’s happening inside your legs and recommend an appropriate treatment. 

At Empire Vein Specialists, we offer modern treatments for varicose veins that can be done in the comfort of our office:

  • VenaSeal™ Closure System: This is the first vein treatment to seal affected veins using a medical adhesive.
  • ClosureFast™ Closure System: Radiofrequency (RF) energy is delivered directly into the affected vein by using a narrow catheter via a tiny incision and done under local anesthesia. 
  • Sclerotherapy: This treatment eliminates spider and smaller varicose veins. A fine needle is used to inject a sclerosing solution called Asclera, causing the vein to seal closed. 
  • Phlebectomy Vein Removal: In this outpatient procedure, your physician will remove large veins from your legs in small sections, using incisions too small to require suturing.
  • Varithena™: This is an FDA-approved treatment in which foam is injected into the affected vein, causing the vessel walls to seal and the vein to collapse and be resorbed by your body over time. 

Ready to explore our vein services with our team of board-certified doctors? Get started by calling our office at 1-800-VARICOSE.


  1. Antani MR, Dattilo JB. Varicose Veins. [Updated 2023 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from:
  2. Raetz J, Wilson M, Collins K. Varicose Veins: Diagnosis and Treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2019;99(11):682-688.
  3. Manconi M, Garcia-Borreguero D, Schormair B, et al. Restless legs syndrome. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2021;7(1):80. Published 2021 Nov 3. doi:10.1038/s41572-021-00311-z
  4. Aslam MR, Muhammad Asif H, Ahmad K, et al. Global impact and contributing factors in varicose vein disease development. SAGE Open Med. 2022;10:20503121221118992. Published 2022 Aug 25. doi:10.1177/20503121221118992
  5. Robles-Tenorio A, Lev-Tov H, Ocampo-Candiani J. Venous Leg Ulcer. [Updated 2022 Sep 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from:
  6. Yuan S, Bruzelius M, Damrauer SM, Larsson SC. Cardiometabolic, Lifestyle, and Nutritional Factors in Relation to Varicose Veins: A Mendelian Randomization Study. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2021;10:e022286.