Compression therapy increases blood flow by strengthening vein support, which promotes vascular health and treats a variety of venous diseases. Compression therapy is also useful in overall pain management, especially for leg pain.
Compression Therapy Explained
As a treatment, compression therapy can help alleviate aching and improve circulation by loosening constriction between the walls of the veins. The process works by gently applying pressure to slowly stretch vein walls and improve overall circulation in the ankles and legs, which helps to eliminate swelling.
Instead of slowing blood flow, the pressure actually increases blood flow, helping to prevent blood from pooling in the veins. The improved circulation helps promote healing and can also reduce swelling in the affected body parts. Compression therapy devices usually come in the form of elastic socks or stockings that support the veins, which evenly apply pressure over the painful area, even sores.
They are also available as shin sleeves, elbow sleeves, and even masks to help treat pain, swelling, and other symptoms.
Conditions Treated with Compression Therapy
Wearable compression therapy devices can treat many common chronic conditions, including fibromyalgia and lymphatic diseases. It is the preferred treatment for venous ulcers and edema (swelling). It is also a standard treatment for arthritis pain relief.
Types of Compression Therapy
There are three primary types of compression therapy: bandages, stockings, and pneumatic systems.
Bandages are strips of material that are used to bind a part of the body. They can fit an unlimited range of patient sizes and needs, but their effectiveness is dependent upon proper wrapping. Loose bandages take longer to reduce swelling, and a wound will not heal as quickly. Overly tight bandages can restrict blood flow and may cause tissue damage.
There are two types of compression bandages:
- Short-stretch bandages exert large amounts of pressure when the wearer is active, but relatively little pressure when the wearer is at rest.
- Long-stretch bandages are more elastic and provide constant compression during activity as well as when resting.
The most common form of compression therapy is compression hosiery (compression stockings). Specially made, snug-fitting, stretchy socks gently squeeze the leg when worn. The stockings are tightest around the ankle and become less tight as they move up the leg.
Compression hosiery is similar to bandages in its elastic nature; however, unlike bandages that require accurate wrapping, compression hosiery has defined compression levels. Plus, it is easier to put on and remove, and it can be changed daily.
Compression sleeves are worn on the arms and are similar to compression hosiery.
Intermittent Pneumatic Compression (IPC) Systems
Intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) systems use cuffs around the legs that fill with air to squeeze the legs. The system helps increases blood flow through the veins to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
In most cases, the use of an IPC occurs in a hospital. However, it can also be used at home.
The Benefits of Compression Therapy
Pain relief from reducing swelling is the primary benefit of compression therapy. It can also increase circulation to promote healing. Sufferers of chronic venous disease are prime candidates for compression therapy.
For wound and ulcer management, compression therapy can help reduce healing times. Compression therapy is also beneficial for:
- People who can’t leave their bed or have a hard time moving their legs.
- People who stand all day at work.
- Pregnant women.
- Anyone suffering from aching and heavy legs.
- People who spend long periods of time on airplanes, like pilots.
- People with lymphedema.
- Persons suffering from phlebitis.
Because compression therapy can help prevent the development of blood clots, it is often recommended for patients following surgery.
Novus Spine & Pain Center
The Novus Spine & Pain Center is in Lakeland, Florida, and specializes in treating chronic pain. By using a comprehensive approach and cutting-edge therapies, we work together with patients to restore function and regain an active lifestyle, while minimizing the need for opiates.
Our Mission Statement: To provide the best quality of life to people suffering from pain, by providing state of the art treatments, knowledge and skill, compassion, and respect for all.
Compression Therapy Resources
The Benefits of Compression Therapy (Advanced Tissue)
What are compression stockings? (WebMD)
Who Uses Compression Stockings? (WebMD)
What do compression stockings do? (WebMD)
DVT Prevention: Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Devices (Johns Hopkins)
What is Compression Therapy (American Venous Forum)
What is compression therapy? (Brown Med)
An Overview of Compression Therapy (Today’s Wound Clinic)
Compression Therapy (Ossur)
Venous Stasis (Wikipedia)