Compression Therapy an often ignored but important treatment modality

Compression Therapy an often ignored but important treatment modality

There are numerous ways to treat Venous disorders. One of the most common among them is Compression Therapy.

Many of you may not be aware of what compression therapy is? What are the benefits of compression therapy?

In this article, you will get to know all that pertains to compression therapy.

About Compression Therapy?

Compression Therapy is a therapy of applying high-pressure compression garments or wraps over the leg to treat venous disease.

This therapy is truly effective and pretty simple. It helps to increase the blood flow from the lower limbs back to the heart by strengthening the vein support. It increases blood circulation and promotes healing.

This therapy prevents blood pooling in the veins and helps to improve venous flow.

Compression therapy helps to move fluid in the blood vessels and restricts fluid collection in the veins and prevents it from swelling and expanding. It also reduces the venous pressure on the legs by applying external pressure. Compression is given by using specially designed stockings or bandages.

Compression therapy is beneficial for most people with venous disorders as well as lymphatic disorders.

This therapy has proved to be especially helpful for athletes because this therapy helps athletes to recover faster after a tenacious exercise or training. This therapy is one of the most useful therapies to heal nonhealing venous ulcers on the leg.

Compression therapy is easy, highly efficacious, painless, and convenient at the same time. These are the reasons that people have liked this therapy a lot.

Those who are suffering from chronic venous disease rely on compression therapy the most.

Important practical points for patients when choosing compression treatment

  • Compression is one of the most important treatment tools for your venous disease. Even after any surgery, if you feel that you are completely treated, you should always be careful. On slightest doubt that your symptoms may be recurring, start wearing your stockings again and consult your Vascular Surgeon
  • Do not buy stockings if your vendor doesn’t take the sizing of your legs. It is very important to be particular about the sizing because, for each size of stockings, the pressure applied is different for particular legs. So, only take stockings after your vendor takes proper measurements of your legs.
  • For those patients whose size doesn’t fit the available options – their legs are either too thin or too thick, custom made stockings are also available with most good companies.  
  • Apply moisturizer copiously at least twice a day as wearing stockings can make your legs dry and cause itching and rashes.
  • The duration for which stockings have to be worn is decided by the doctor. Usually, it is for 24 hours for the first week after surgery and then, during the daytime.
  • It is important to note that stockings are to be worn whenever you are out of bed so that even the slightest of venous hypertension may not occur. So, if you are traveling at night or you go to bed late at night, please wear your stockings till you go to bed.
  • If you have been advised for life long compression stockings, please do not stop using them after some time. Usually, people stop using the stockings once they start feeling better. But, this causes recurrence of disease and they may have to suffer because of this.
  • For venous ulcer patients, usually, 4 layer dressing is done or very tight stockings are available which help in the healing of ulcers.
  • Specially designed gloves and instruments are available to help in wearing stockings. These are especially helpful for those patients who are unable to wear them themselves eg very old patients, very obese individuals, extremely sick patients.
  • For those patients who find it cumbersome to wear stockings, strap devices are available to help them apply compression so that their compliance with compression devices increases, although, these devices are a bit expensive.
  • Kindly change your stockings after approx 6 months of usage as their effectiveness is seriously reduced after that.
  • Kindly wear normal socks outside the stockings so that they are not soiled
  • These stockings are to be worn in such a way, that there should not be any wrinkles in the stockings and the surface should be absolutely smooth.

What is chronic venous disease?

Chronic venous disease refers to veins related diseases that are long-standing. These may be caused due to varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, valve insufficiency, post-thrombotic syndrome, or any other compression over the veins that may cause obstruction to the flow of blood back to the heart.

If chronic venous insufficiency is left untreated, it can lead to long-standing swelling and pain in the legs, hyperpigmentation, and darkening of the legs, eczema, and long-standing ulcers. The long-standing venous disease may predispose a person to have deep vein thrombosis which may be very dangerous in rare cases (clot may travel up to the lungs and cause life-threatening pulmonary embolism).

Symptoms of Chronic Venous Disease

  • Leg pain
  • Swelling and cramps in ankles or legs
  • Itchiness
  • Tightness and heaviness in legs
  • Discolored skin over the leg especially on the inner side of the leg just above the ankle.
  • Ulcers over the leg especially on the inner side of the leg just above the ankle.

Risk factors of chronic venous disease

Chronic disease can occur in any person, but some are at high risk of developing this condition. They are-

  • People with obesity
  • People who suffered from any leg injury or surgery
  • People with blood clots in the veins
  • Standing or sitting for prolonged periods
  • Older people
  • Genetics

Compression therapy helps to alleviate primary problems such as aching and inflammation. By increasing the flow in the veins, helps avoid the primary problem which causes all the above-mentioned symptoms i.e.

venous hypertension. Treatment of venous hypertension is the biggest challenge in the treatment of venous insufficiency patients.

Once the venous hypertension is managed, swelling will come down, along with inflammation and therefore, tendency for ulcer formation and nonhealing of ulcers will also reduce.   

Benefits of compression therapy

Compression therapy provides numerous benefits. Here, is the list of its benefits:-

  • Improves blood circulation and promotes healing
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Prevent fluid collection or blood pooling in legs
  • Help to remove toxins
  • Prevents condition from getting worse
  • Provide relieves from heaviness in legs
  • Strengthens loose skin caused due to obesity or pregnancy
  • Support veins
  • Prevent the development of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Helps in healing of venous ulcers

Indications for compression therapy

Here, I’m mentioning some signs that indicate the need for compression therapy. If you notice such indications in your body, then it’s time to go for compression therapy.

  • Tired legs
  • Varicose veins
  • Changes in skin colour due to venous insufficiency
  • Active or unhealed venous leg ulcer
  • Lymphedema
  • Edema in lower limbs
  • Heaviness in legs
  • Aching
  • Leathery looking skin
  • Swelling ankles or lower legs (Especially after prolonged standing)
  • Itching skin on the legs
  • Venous stasis ulcer

Doctors mostly recommend compression therapy to those people who are suffering from the following mentioned disease:-

  • Venous leg ulcer and edema
  • Varicose veins
  • Chronic venous disease
  • Lymphedema
  • Thrombosis

Doctors also suggest compression therapy after any leg surgery because it prevents the risk of blood clots.

Compression therapy types

There are diverse options for compression therapy.

The most common types of compression therapy methods used to treat venous diseases are :

  • Compression bandages
  • Compression hosiery
  • Anti-embolism stockings

Compression bandages

A variety of compression bandages with predetermined levels are available in the market. Which sort of compression bandage will be suitable for your leg, it depends upon the severity of the condition and swelling.

Types of compression bandages

  • Lightweight conforming
  • Light support
  • Light compression
  • Moderate compression
  • High compression
  • Extra high compression

Compression hosiery

Compression stockings are compression hosiery. Compression stockings are an elastic garment that is worn around the leg, which is specially designed to apply pressure on your legs and helps to maintain the blood flow in your limbs.

Compression stockings help to prevent venous disorders from further progression. It also helps to give relief from aching and heavy legs.

Anti-embolism Stockings / TED stockings (Thromboembolic deterrant)

It’s clinically proven that anti-embolism stockings help to reduce the chances of DVT.  It enhances blood flow in the limbs and helps to reduce the formation of blood clot threads. Anti-embolism stockings help to reduce the risk of Venous Thromboembolism (VTE). These stockings are most commonly used in patients pre and post-surgery (especially long surgeries or surgeries after which, the patient may be bedridden or have reduced mobility for a long period of time).

How does the therapy work?

This method is not very new, and nowadays, most athletes rely on compression socks or shorts after a workout.

Compression therapy works by compressing the veins and in turn, pushing the blood upstream. These also prevent blood from flowing back into the legs. Also, the compression stockings press against the muscles of the calf and further compress the superficial veins to push the blood into the deep veins (therefore, nullify the effect of faulty/leaky valves which allow blood to flow from deep veins back into the superficial veins).

Compression therapy works effectively on venous disorders. If you are suffering from any venous disease or notice any of the signs mentioned above in your legs, you should consult a vascular surgeon and go for compression therapy.

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