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Who needs compression therapy? A doctor unpacks the truth behind this powerful treatment
Compression therapy is a noninvasive and innovative approach gaining attention due to its benefits for a range of conditions. It exerts consistent pressure over a broader area to compress and support veins to enhance blood circulation, support healing, and prevent blood pooling in veins. Keep reading to understand what compression therapy is and how it works.
What Is Compression Therapy: An Overview
- Compression therapy is widely used to enhance blood circulation in the lower legs. Patients wear specially designed compression garments or socks daily to apply gentle pressure to the legs, ankles, and feet. These socks exert gentle pressure on the veins’ walls, minimizing the risk of blood pooling and enhancing overall blood circulation.
The result is a reduction in circulation-related issues, including decreased swelling. The best compression socks initiate compression from the ankle, gradually working their way up the leg. While some stockings cover only up to the knee, others extend over the thighs. Despite the variation, compression socks primarily concentrate their effects on the lower leg.
Types of Compression Therapy
- Compression therapy encompasses various devices, including:
- The most common type, these stockings, typically reach up to the knee. Longer stockings or tights extending to the waist may be recommended if swelling extends beyond the knee.
Bandages and Wraps
- Elastic bandages and Velcro wraps offer an alternative, particularly for individuals who find putting on socks challenging. Bandages are often applied in multiple layers.
- These devices cover the entire leg and inflate to apply pressure. Athletes commonly utilize them.
Compression socks are rated based on pressure, measured in mmHg (millimeters of mercury). The level of compression required depends on the specific condition, categorized as:
- Low Compression (less than 20 mmHg)
- Medium Compression (20 to 30 mmHg)
- High Compression (greater than 30 mmHg)
Over-the-counter stockings with low compression are available for individuals who stand or sit for extended periods or during pregnancy. However, stockings rated 20 mmHg or higher necessitate a prescription, emphasizing the importance of consulting a healthcare provider before purchasing such compression stockings.
Benefits of Compression Therapy
Some of the well-researched benefits of compression therapy include:
Enhanced Blood Flow
- When a person stays standing or sitting for a few hours, legs and feet begin to swell. This happens because the veins in the lower limbs have to fight against gravity to push the blood back to the heart. Compression therapy or the use of compression garments, puts gentle pressure on the legs, squeezing the legs and making the blood flow faster.
This prevents fluid accumulation in the legs by keeping it from leaking out of the blood vessels in the legs. Compression garments are useful for individuals traveling for hours and standing on their feet at work. Compression therapy helps reduce swelling during long periods of standing or sitting.
Treats Varicose Veins
- Veins in the legs have valves that allow the blood to move in one direction. This is how blood is pushed back to the heart from the legs. Sometimes, the valves in veins become defective and hinder the blood flow. The blood begins to pool in the veins, thus leading to a condition known as varicose veins.
Veins twist and swell and cause pain in the legs. Compression therapy helps alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with varicose veins. Additionally, compression therapy can help prevent the development of varicose veins in the first place. Therefore, using compression stockings is beneficial for treating and preventing varicose veins.
If you suffer from any of the above conditions, contact UCryo & Recovery at (940) 218-4016. Our noninvasive dynamic compression therapy improves blood flow and speeds up recovery. We are operating in Bartonville, Texas.