We can all benefit from compression therapy, although some of us more so than others. Sitting or standing for extended periods of time may result in many symptoms, leg cramping, leg fatigue, aching heavy legs being some of the more moderate ones. When referring to pressure in the body, it is always measured in millimeters of mercury mmHg. The amount of pressure on your legs differs when walking, standing in one position, and sitting. As this pressure is exerted on the legs it causes inflammation and stretching of the vein walls and eventual wear and tear of the valves of the legs.
The venous muscle pump is an important concept when talking about compression therapy. Movement causes the muscles in our legs to contract, which compresses the veins forcing the blood to flow back to the heart. When the muscles are relaxed, the veins fill up again. The valves in our legs help to prevent the blood from flowing backwards. This combined with the muscle contraction is referred to as the venous muscle pump. Over time, the pressure exerted on our legs can prevent the valves from closing properly, resulting in a backflow and pooling of fluid in the ankles.
Compression garments helps to alleviate the problem by acting as a layer of muscle by gently squeezing the stretched walls together and assisting the valves to close, thereby improving overall circulation. To be most effective the stockings should be of a graduated compression whereby the strongest compression is at the ankles and gradually lessons as it moves up the leg helping with venous return and decreasing venous pressure.
Compression garments are used to treat both venous and lymphatic disorders in ambulatory patients.
Venous insufficiency is caused by a series of disorders in the vein including when the valves of the veins fail to function properly. This interferes with venous return and causes blood to pool in the veins. Venous insufficiency can become more chronic and lead to spider veins, varicose veins, phlebitis, blood clots, and changes in the skin. The most serious disorder is a venous leg ulcer. Chronic Venous Disorders (CVD) is a collective term used to describe a long-standing condition involving impaired venous return in varying degrees of severity.
Spider veins: Those are small, dilated superficial veins (also known as telangiectasia). They may be located in different areas of the leg. When found on thighs, they mostly represent just an esthetic problem. However, when located at the ankle, they may represent a serious venous insufficiency. A visit to your physician can detect a possible venous insufficiency. And finally, for esthetic reasons, spider veins can be removed by various simple procedures. After this treatment, 20 to 30 mmHg SIGVARIS compression stockings have proven to help maintain results.
Varicose veins: Varicose veins are the sign of a more serious venous disease. A varicose vein is a dilated and tortuous superficial vein with defective valves. As a result, the blood in these veins flows backward. This condition is known as blood reflux. Varicose veins can be painful, or on the contrary totally painless. We can find them on the foot, the calf, the thigh or on the entire leg. If not treated varicose veins can lead to serious complications. SIGVARIS MEDICAL compression stockings help to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications.
Edema: Edema is the medical term for swelling. The edema of the foot and the ankle occurs when the blood stagnates in the superficial and deep veins in the lower part of the leg. The capillaries can no longer play their role. Water and waste build up in the skin in the lower leg and induce a venous edema (swelling of the foot and the ankle). However, not all edemas are of venous origin. Consult your physician for a proper diagnosis. Wearing compression stocking will reduce or completely eliminate edema. The pressure required will be determined by the physician as it depends on the underlying condition.
On the other hand, lymphatic disorders involve the lymphatic system.
Your lymphatic system is crucial to keeping your body healthy. It circulates protein-rich lymph fluid throughout your body, while collecting bacteria, viruses and waste products. This system carries fluid and harmful substances through your lymph vessels, which lead to lymph nodes. The wastes are then filtered out by lymphocytes — infection-fighting cells that live in your lymph nodes — and ultimately flushed from your body. Lymphedema occurs when there is a blockage or break in your lymphatic system so your lymph vessels are unable to adequately drain lymph fluid, usually from an arm or leg.
Any condition or procedure that damages your lymph nodes or lymph vessels can cause lymphedema. Causes include:
While there is presently no cure for lymphedema, it can be managed with early diagnosis and diligent care of your affected limb.
While many benefit from compression there are those who should not wear them. That includes those diagnosed with:
Compression therapy for these individuals should only be considered if the medical team decides that the benefits outweigh the risks.