Compression therapy

Overview

Compression therapy is a widely used method aimed at enhancing blood circulation in the lower legs. Typically, it entails the application of elastic stockings or wraps, which exert pressure on the legs, ankles, and feet. This compression aids in preventing blood pooling and the accumulation of fluid in these regions.

Types of compression therapy

Among the several kinds of compression therapy equipment are:

  • Compression stockings: Knee-high stockings are the most popular style of compression stocking. You might need to wear longer stockings or tights that reach your waist if the swelling is above your knee.
  • Bandages and wraps: Those who struggle to put on socks might find it easier to apply Velcro wraps and elastic bandages. Usually, bandages are put in several layers.
  • Inflatable devices: These inflatable devices cover the legs completely and inflate to apply pressure. Athletes utilize them the most.

Compression socks are rated by manufacturers according to the amount of pressure they exert. Your condition will determine how much compression you require. Millimeters of mercury, or mmHg, are the units used to measure compression. Compression stockings are not rated using a set system. In general, pressure categories are divided into three groups: low, which is less than 20 mmHg; medium, ranging from 20 to 30 mmHg; and high, exceeding 30 mmHg.

Low compression stockings can be purchased over-the-counter. If you are pregnant or have to stand or sit for extended amounts of time, they might be a suitable option. Before you buy compression stockings over-the-counter, speak with your healthcare physician. For stockings rated 20 mmHg or higher, a prescription is necessary.

Reasons for undergoing the procedure

Healthcare providers advise compression therapy for conditions linked to poor blood circulation. These may encompass:

Chronic venous insufficiency

This is a prevalent condition impacting the veins in the legs. It arises when the vein walls weaken, and the valves within them fail to function properly. Consequently, blood circulation from the legs to the heart is hindered, leading to blood accumulation in the legs.

Chronic venous insufficiency may stem from factors such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), aging, or extended periods of sitting or standing.

Compression therapy aids in alleviating chronic venous insufficiency by stimulating the leg muscles, facilitating the movement of blood against gravity towards the heart.

Varicose veins

Chronic venous insufficiency is the root cause of these veins. Under your skin, varicose veins resemble raised, looping ropes. Compression treatment is a useful tool for reducing varicose vein pain and swelling.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

This is a blood clot that typically forms in a leg or other deep vein in the body. The clot can cause blood and swelling to accumulate behind it because it restricts blood flow.

Patients who are at risk of deep vein thrombosis may be advised to undergo compression therapy by doctors. Among the risk factors are:

  • A state of immobility or inactivity.
  • Excessive weight bearing.
  • During pregnancy and the first six weeks following delivery.
  • The use of chemotherapy.

It makes sense to think about compression therapy if you currently use blood thinners, sometimes known as anticoagulants, and you have deep vein thrombosis. However, before beginning compression therapy, see your doctor to determine whether it’s appropriate for you.

Edema or swelling of the feet, ankles or legs

When fluid is trapped in your tissues, swelling happens. Gravity causes fluid to tend to pool in your legs, but there are numerous ways your body can stop this from happening. Still, there are circumstances in which pooling takes place. Swelling in your feet, ankles, and legs may be brought on by:

  • Chronic venous insufficiency.
  • Congestive heart failure.
  • Lymphedema
  • Being pregnant.
  • Prolonged periods of sitting or standing still.

By applying pressure to move fluid and stop it from building up, compression treatment aids.

Leg ulcers and wounds

An open sore or ulcer can appear anywhere on the body, but they are frequently found on the legs, ankles, and feet. Ulcers on the foot and lower legs are more common in those with diabetes, varicose veins, and impaired circulation. Compression therapy has been shown to improve wound and leg ulcer healing.

Orthostatic hypotension

This is a sharp reduction in blood pressure that takes place upon standing. Low blood pressure can cause lightheadedness or dizziness. When you stand, inadequate blood flow from your legs to your heart causes orthostatic hypotension. In order to cure this illness, compression therapy works by forcing blood back up to the heart from your legs.

Risks

The majority of compression therapy-related issues are not very serious. Among them are:

  • Skin irritation.
  • Pain or discomfort.
  • Swelling in the area around the toes and lower foot (where compression is often lower).
  • Fungal or bacterial infection

Severe side effects are extremely rare and can include:

  • Injury to the nerve or soft tissue.
  • Superficial thromboembolism.

Before the procedure

Depending on the state of your health, your practitioner will decide what kind of compression you require. Apart from the pressure rating, further crucial factors to take into account are:

  • Fit and size.
  • The proper way to put them on.
  • The duration of wear.

Typically, a medical supply store is where you fill your prescription. Instructed personnel will collect your measurements to guarantee a proper fit and provide you with fitting and removal instructions. Some people find it difficult to hold on to and pull on socks. There are tools available to assist with these issues.

During the procedure

Compression therapy works by applying pressure to your lower limbs to help the veins return blood to your heart and avoid edema and blood clots. Compression therapy may be suggested either on its own or in conjunction with other therapies by your doctor.

Compression socks or stockings are often worn throughout the day and removed during the night. Certain illnesses, such wounds or ulcers, may require bandages to be left on overnight. Make sure you adhere to the advice given by your doctor.

Outcome

Making ensuring your compression therapy garments fit correctly and are being used as directed will help you avoid issues in many circumstances. Additional pointers consist of:

  • Avoid folding the stockings’ tops over.
  • Verify that your skin is totally dry.
  • Inspect stockings for bunching or creases.
  • If socks start to look worn out or stretched out, replace them.
  • Put on shoes or slippers to protect your socks.