Compression therapy is an essential part of the prevention andtreatment of venous diseases that affect the lower limbs. Graduatedcompression stockings (GCSs) provide a convenient method of maintainingpressure while allowing ambulation. Many studies have demonstrated thatproper compression magnitudes and gradients can provide support to thesuperficial venous system and accelerate lower limb blood circulation.
Not just for Grandma.
Compressiongarments are no longer the stereotypical "grandma stockings" as so manystill refer to them. With new technology, fibers, and understanding ofvarious conditions, compression hose look more like regular hose orsocks. More than a sock.
Compressiongarments are more than just "socks." Depending on the condition beingtreated, its severity, and the treatment options, compression can beused on just about every part of the body.Graduated compression.
Gradient compression delivers a squeezing to the leg that is tightest at the ankle. The degree of squeezing or compression gradually decreases up the leg. This compression, generally expressed in mmHg (millimeters of mercury) provides two main benefits:
- Increase the pressure in the tissues beneath the skin thus reducing excess leakage of fluid from the capillaries and increasing absorption of tissue fluid by the capillaries and lymphatic vessels. Compression therefore reduces and helps prevent swelling.
- Control the size (diameter) of superficial veins beneath the stocking. The stocking does not allow these superficial veins to over expand with blood. This action helps prevent "pooling".
Compressiontherapy has been repeatedly proven effective in the treatment andprevention of venous disorders. Medical research has shown thatstockings are effective in reducing leg symptoms only when thecompression is graduated
,meaning the pressure is greatest at the ankle and sequentially less upthe leg. The compression of the hosiery physically reduces thecircumference of the limb and the superficial veins. By decreasing thesize of the veins, blood flows faster, which helps prevent the bloodfrom pooling and the chances of developing a thrombus.How compression works.
Graduatedcompression stockings exert significant influences on the cutaneouspressure distribution and magnitudes along the path of main superficialveins. Different testing locations and body postures inducedvariations on the pressure performances. Proper lower limb exercisesare still recommended when wearing compression stockings. Compressiontherapy can also improve valve functioning. As the vein diameter isreduced, the valve cusps are moved back to a correct overlappingposition, allowing for proper functioning. Additionally, compressionstockings can reinforce the varicosity, making it less symptomatic andless visible.Compression Hose Classifications:
(mmHg = millimeters of mercury )
Lite Compression, 9-12 & 15-20 mm Hg:
- light compression—16 to 20 mm Hg
- class I stockings—20 to 30 mm Hg
- class II stockings—30 to 40 mm Hg
- class III stockings—40 to 50 mm Hg
Moderate Compression, 20-30 mm Hg Class I:
- Tired, aching legs and feet
- Mild foot and leg swelling
- Mild varicosities
- Standing, sitting or traveling for extended periods of time
- Preventative support
Heavy Compression, 30-40 mm Hg Class II:
- Chronic leg fatigue and heaviness
- Ankle, foot and leg swelling
- Mild varicosities
- Post surgical
- Superficial thrombophlebitis
- Preventative treatment during pregnancy
- Preventative for those with disposition for vein disease
Anti-Emobolism, 18 mm Hg:
- Moderate varicosities
- Moderate edema
- Lymphatic edema
- Prevention and treatment of venous ulcers
- Venous insufficiency
- Prophylaxis of thrombosis
- Thrombo Embolic Deterrent
- Non-ambulatory, bed-ridden patients
- Pre- and post-surgical procedures
- Mild varicosities
The lower compression ranges (lessthan 20 mm Hg) are preventative and can be worn by anyone wantinghealthy, great-feeling and looking legs. Today incredibly sheer,lightweight and fashionable products are available in the lowercompressions.
Any individual with symptoms of venous disordersshould consult a physician to ascertain the correct therapy for thespecific leg condition. The physician should determine the style andcompression level.