Two surgeons in medical gowns performing a routine leg cramps treatment via a venous ablation procedure on a patient's leg in an operating room.

leg Cramps Treatment

Why Vein Ablation is Part of Any Leg Cramps Treatment Discussion

In a minimally invasive leg cramps treatment that uses radiofrequency, venous ablation targets abnormally enlarged veins and cauterizes (burns) them so they close. For patients with Superficial Venous Reflux (damaged or diseased vein valves) and spider veins, ablation surgery offers an alternative to vein stripping.

For starters, your arteries carry blood from the heart to your legs, and your veins return blood to the heart. The only way this happens is through healthy one-way valves, where blood returns from your legs and travels through them while being prevented from back-flowing. If your valves are damaged or inflamed and your veins are large, varicose veins can settle in — as well as daily pain and cramping.

During venous ablation, doctors use radiofrequency heat to seal off faulty vessels. In turn, this directs blood flow to healthier veins. Blood then circulates through these “deeper” veins back to your heart. Varicose veins disappear, swelling dramatically reduces, and skin color and tone improve. All of this through a virtually painless procedure.

This treatment can relieve symptoms like aching, swelling, skin irritation, discoloration, and leg cramps all day and night, as well as reduce the risk of ulcers and blood clots from venous disease. But how?


Why Leg Cramps Treatment Options Include Venous Ablation

Doctors treat venous ablation surgery like any other leg cramps treatment. Before surgery, they will clean and sterilize your leg. Then they’ll hang the appropriate surgical drapery. After they insert a catheter through a small incision into the abnormal vein, they feed in a radiofrequency electrode. They do this last part via ultrasound to fully visualize the vein.

By heating your blood vessel, the electrode seals off the incompetent vein, shrinking and closing it down. Typically, the procedure takes between 50 – 60 minutes, and patients usually have pre-surgery questions, including:

  • Does Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) hurt? Patients generally report little or no pain. Pain management specialists and expert vein doctors will numb the treatment area with a local or regional anesthetic.
  • Am I required to be anesthetized for the radiofrequency ablation? It’s possible to perform radiofrequency ablation under local, regional, or general anesthesia. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia, so hospital admission is not necessary.
  • What’s the duration of the procedure? In most cases, radiofrequency ablation takes up to 50 – 60 minutes. Pre- and post-treatment procedures may require patients to spend an additional 1 – 2 hours at the clinic.

In the growing world of vein expertise that focuses on patients suffering from leg cramps all day and night, an increasing number of minimally invasive treatments have been explored and applied for several years now, including Endovenous Thermal Ablation (EVTA), Radiofrequency Ablation, Foam Sclerotherapy guided by ultrasound, and other procedures. Outcomes of these minimally invasive treatments are generally satisfactory for most patients. Boasting a very short recovery period and minimal complications, ablation remains an effective method for treating damaged, diseased, and varicose veins.


Benefits of Radiofrequency Ablation and What to Be Aware Of

In comparison to standard procedures within the medical surgery arena (let alone vein and heart surgeries), choosing vein ablation as a viable leg cramps treatment solution is not invasive when stacked against so many other options out there. Major surgical incisions are not required; it only requires a small incision in the skin, and even this doesn’t need to be stitched.

There are fewer complications and pain associated with vein ablation compared to traditional vein stripping techniques. Since only a few millimeters of skin are opened during catheter placement, there are virtually no scars. What’s even better is, about one year after your treatment, most veins are effectively invisible. Nearly all patients report symptom relief and can resume normal daily activities almost immediately.

Just know that infection can occur during any procedure that penetrates the skin, although it’s highly unlikely any infection will set in — and if one does, it’s unlikely it will require antibiotic treatment.

When it comes to catheters, they are placed inside blood vessels under certain conditions that carry certain risks. Blood vessel damage, bruising, and bleeding at the puncture site are among those risks, which means a compression stocking may alleviate post-procedure bruising or tenderness. Nerve damage caused by thermal heat has been reported in some cases, although this condition is rare and usually is resolved within a few days.

If you have vein inflammation post-surgery, your typical over-the-counter pain medication will usually do the trick in bringing down the swelling. Enduring these minor inconveniences is the small price you pay to cure what’s really hurting you: Leg cramps all day and night.


Leg Cramps Treatment: Pre-Surgery vs. Post-Procedure Instructions

At least 24 hours before your venous ablation procedure, you should increase your fluid intake, perhaps drinking at least a couple glasses of water during the morning of your leg cramps treatment surgery. Only a light breakfast is recommended.

Dress comfortably and loosely, since the area being examined will require removal of all clothing and jewelry. You may even be required to wear a gown. Make sure you arrange for someone to drive you to and from the procedure. Well before your ablation, you’ll be asked to schedule your follow-up ultrasound within 2 – 5 days after.

Your pre-surgery ultrasound time will be confirmed before the procedure; however, don’t be surprised if there’s a change in your overall arrival time.

As soon as you complete the procedure and immediate post-surgery checkup, you can resume normal activities. However, you should probably avoid long periods of sitting or standing. Also, you hold off on performing any strength activities or heavy lifting. First, you should see a pain management specialist for a follow-up appointment. Your puncture sites may leak clear or color-tinted fluid following your ablation, but there’s no need to worry — this is extremely rare.

For 2 – 4 weeks, you may wear compression stockings (after wearing a compression bandage for 48 – 72 hours post-surgery). You’ll also be taking a pain reliever, as directed by your doctor. It won’t take long for your leg cramps all day and night to cease — maybe just a few days. It all depends on your personal situation and healthy recovery outlook.

Additionally, depending on your circumstance, a follow-up ultrasound may be recommended approximately six months after the procedure.


How is Venous Ablation Different from Vein Stripping?

Men and women both seek ablation surgery for different reasons. Despite this, this common leg cramps treatment treats common characteristics that women report especially well. Characteristics like pain, achiness, and heaviness. It doesn’t necessarily treat the symptoms men report as well. Symptoms like swollen feet and ankles, inflammation, and itching.

While this procedure is beneficial for both men and women, it’s also interesting that some women experience fewer complications than their male counterparts on average. Fortunately, venous ablation is minimally invasive for the majority of patients.

So how does it compare to vein stripping? Doctors typically perform vein stripping while you’re under general anesthetic. Most consider it much more invasive than modern alternatives for removing varicose, spider, and damaged veins. In fact, most vascular specialists no longer recommend it because it affects the health of veins. On top of that, it’s painful.

The recovery process from vein stripping takes as long as three weeks, and scarring is possible. Stripping surgeries are usually associated with anesthesia-induced allergic reactions, infections at the incision site, more bleeding, blood clotting, more scarring or bruising, and sometimes an injury to your nerves.

Overall, whenever any procedure is performed, there are risks involved and outcomes cannot be guaranteed. It’s important to discuss these risks with your doctor before proceeding in any direction. Your surgeon will answer any questions you may have, including tips to deal with leg cramps all day and night before you even enter surgery.


Wellness and Pain Can Help

A range of leg cramps treatment options are available at Wellness and Pain. We offer conservative treatments, routine visits, and minimally invasive quick-recovery procedures. We can keep you free of problems by providing lifestyle education and home care advice to help you avoid and manage issues, quickly relieving the inhibiting lifestyle conditions when complications arise.

At Wellness and Pain, we personalize patient care plans based on each patient’s condition and unique circumstances to relieve pain. Our goals are to improve mobility and mental space and improve your overall health.

Covered by Most Insurances and Most Unions

Wellness and Pain accepts most major insurance plans. Here is a list of some of the major insurance plans we accept. If you do not see your insurance plan listed, please call our office to confirm.

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