What is Compression Therapy?
Compression therapy is an effective and simple method of improving blood flow activity in the lower legs by strengthening vein support. It is a wound care technique that involves gentle application of pressure to the legs and ankles by wearing specially designed stockings. These stockings gradually stretch out vein walls and increase overall blood circulation, which helps to eliminate pain, swelling, and discomfort in the lower legs.
Types of Compression Therapy
- Compression stockings are the most widely used method of compression therapy.
- Compression bandages or wraps are other common alternatives.
- Other modes of compression therapy include mechanical compression devices, such as a compressed air device or a wearable compression boot.
Indications for Compression Therapy
Compression therapy is mainly indicated for the treatment of individuals with chronic venous disease. The condition can occur as a result of one or more of the following:
- Obesity or excessive weight gain
- Leg injury or surgery
- Blood clots in the veins
- Prolonged periods of standing or sitting without movement
- Varicose veins
Common Conditions Treated with Compression Therapy
Some of the common, chronic conditions that can be treated with compression therapy include:
Edema is a collection of fluid in the lower limbs, ankles or other regions. Application of low amounts of pressure with compression stockings or support hose can help reduce the swelling.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)
CVI is a condition where veins have difficulty sending blood from your limbs back to your heart. When blood collects in the leg veins and pools due to impaired circulation it is called venous stasis. CVI is associated with varicose veins and often causes swelling and pain in the legs. CVI affects almost 20 percent of men and 40 percent of women over the age of 50.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
The condition in which a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the body is referred to as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Clots form when blood thickens and clumps together. DVT occurs most often in the deep veins of the leg and thighs.
Leg ulcers are open wounds or sores on the legs that commonly occur as a result of diabetes. They are also associated with poor blood circulation and varicose veins. Special compression bandages and compression stockings can be effective in treating and preventing recurrence of the condition.
Working Mechanism of Compression Therapy
A standard compression stocking is typically made of elastic garment apparel and is worn from the ankle and up the leg. The stockings provide graduated compression, with the strongest support beginning at the ankles and gradually reducing towards the top of the legs. The controlled pressure works on contracting regions of restricted blood circulation in the leg, allowing veins to free up, which in turn increases blood flow in the legs and improves blood return to the heart. Improved blood flow aids in reducing pain, swelling, and discomfort in the lower legs.
Benefits of Compression Therapy
Some of the benefits of compression therapy include:
- Management of varicose veins
- Prevention of lower limb swelling
- Prevention of venous thromboembolism or DVT
- Improved healing of ulcers in the lower limbs
- Limited recurrence of leg ulcers
- Maintenance treatment for lymphedema
- Alleviation of chronic venous insufficiency