If you are someone who experiences pain, inflammation, and swelling in your legs, you may want to consider compression therapy as soon as possible. An affordable, non-invasive, and highly effective treatment option, compression therapy improves circulation in the legs. Here at Commonwealth Vein Center in Colonial Heights, Virginia we are experienced in dealing with vein issues of all kinds and will find the most effective treatment options for your condition.
Blood and lymph pooling in the legs can lead to all sorts of problems ranging from mild discomfort to severe sores and blood clots. Whether your leg swelling is due to surgery, immobility, or issues with vein function, compression therapy can alleviate symptoms and prevent further problems from occurring. Lack of proper circulation in the lower extremities can lead to many more serious conditions so the sooner you take care of this condition the better.
Who Can Benefit From Compression Therapy?
If you are experiencing varicose veins, spider veins, swelling, inflammation, or other venous conditions you are not alone. Nearly half of the adult population in the United States suffers from some form of vein disease. You may benefit from compression therapy if you are someone struggling with:
- Lymphedema (swelling in the legs or arms that won’t go away)
- Ulcers caused by lack of circulation
- Post-surgical blood clot prevention
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Venous insufficiency
- Varicose veins
- Spider veins
- Arthritis pain
- Being on your feet all day
- Intense athletics
How Does Compression Therapy Work?
Many of the venous conditions previously mentioned are caused by a lack of proper circulation in the lower extremities. When blood cannot be pumped back to the heart it pools in the legs causing inflammation, swelling, and even infections. When the veins are weakened, they cannot properly pump the fluid in an upward direction, resulting in stagnation that can lead to painful bulging veins and even sores.
You will be fitted for a compression stocking which is a snug-fitting elastic material that surrounds your leg. The pressure from the stocking improves circulation by acting as a pump to push the blood and lymph back to the heart. The pressure from the stocking also allows the vein walls to slowly relax and expand, increasing their function while decreasing swelling and inflammation. Due to the steady compression provided by the stocking, swelling, and blood pooling are much less likely to occur. The compression stocking is worn all day long (except in the shower or pool) and removed at night before sleeping.
Conditions That Can Be Improved With Compression Therapy
Many conditions can see relief with a compression garment and this treatment option can prevent issues from getting much worse. Let’s explore the vast array of health concerns compression garments can help with.
Lymphedema, the localized swelling caused by an abnormal accumulation of lymph fluid, can be the result of cancer treatments that remove or damage the lymph nodes. Because the lymph system is unable to properly circulate the lymph fluid, swelling can occur leading to a heavy or tight feeling, restricted range of motion, frequent infections, or skin that becomes hard and thick. Sometimes people with this condition cannot even move the limb and become immobilized.
Through the use of a compression stocking, lymph does not accumulate as much in the lower extremities and is able to be circulated through the body, reducing pain and infections. If possible, movement is encouraged to work in tandem with a compression stocking to increase range of motion and reduce swelling and build up.
Varicose Veins and Spider Veins
Varicose veins are bulging, twisted, bluish-colored veins that can cause discomfort and self-consciousness. They are caused by weakened or damaged vein walls and valves. Damage in the veins occurs as a result of increased blood pressure resulting from sitting or standing for long periods of time, pregnancy, obesity, or other conditions that create high levels of pressure in the cardiovascular system. Veins have a one-way valve which keeps blood moving towards the heart. When the valves are damaged, blood can pool or even flow backward which can cause an increase in size, swelling, and pressure in those veins.
Compression therapy is great for varicose veins and spider veins (a milder version of varicose veins which are smaller and create a spider web looking structure) because the compression increases blood flow while alleviating pressure from the veins. The compression assists in the pumping mechanism of the veins which greatly improves circulation. This can help with symptoms of pain and swelling while preventing this condition from getting worse.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when blood clots are formed in deep veins throughout the body. The lower extremities are especially susceptible to this condition which can be life-threatening. Blood clots can travel to the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism sometimes resulting in death. A recent surgery, obesity, certain medications, and being a smoker can increase your risk of blood clots.
Compression stockings greatly improve DVT because blood is less likely to pool and create clots when compression of the veins is applied. Studies have found that compression stockings significantly reduce the risk of developing DVT, even cutting your risk of getting DVT after surgery in half. Pain, tenderness, swelling, and an area hot to the touch are all symptoms of DVT. If you know you have this condition or suspect you may, early treatment is essential for the prevention of more serious complications.
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) occurs when the veins do not work efficiently to pump blood back to the heart. The valves in the veins that create a one-way flow of blood are damaged, which allows for pooling and potential blood clots. This pooling of blood due to damaged valves is known as stasis. When the valves are damaged to the point where blood cannot return back to the heart, blood pressure in the veins remains elevated for extended periods of time. CVI can be a long term result of deep vein thrombosis.
CVI is estimated to be a problem for 40% of the population and occurs more frequently in people over 50. Women seem to be more susceptible to this condition. You don’t want to wait on treatment if you suffer from CVI because it does not usually resolve itself. The sooner you wait, the more issues you may encounter such as varicose veins and ulcers. If you catch the condition early and start using compression stockings, you can greatly improve the condition and prevent further damage from occurring.
Diabetes can cause a decrease in circulation, produce venous insufficiency, and can even cause nerve damage. Due to the lack of circulation and malfunction of the veins, painful swelling can occur. When nerve damage is present, it is easier to cut or injure yourself without realizing it. This can eventually lead to infected wounds which can cause serious problems. Compression stockings are often recommended for people with diabetes to maintain healthy leg circulation and nerve sensitivity which can prevent painful sores and accidents.
Lower Extremity Wounds and Ulcers
When circulation to the lower extremities is very poor due to venous insufficiency or diabetes, a simple cut can turn into an infected and growing wound that can linger for a very long time. Due to the veins not functioning properly, the wound gets worse over time instead of better. Compression stockings are essential to healing these wounds because they assist in pumping out waste material and stagnant blood so that oxygenated blood and fresh lymph can come into the area, clean it out, and start to repair the damaged tissue.
Phlebitis is the inflammation of a vein and can be caused by a blood clot or trauma to the vein such as an intravenous catheter or an IV with medication that is an irritant to you. Injuries such as broken bones can also cause phlebitis. Symptoms of this condition include redness, a visible red streak, a cord-like structure you can feel with your hand, warmth, and pain in the affected area. Phlebitis can occur from a blood clot that could travel to your lungs and cause a PE (pulmonary embolism). You may be experiencing a PE if you:
- Have chest pains
- Have shortness of breath
- Have pain when you breathe deeply
- Are coughing up blood
- Feel light-headed or pass out
- Suddenly have a rapid heart rate and fast breathing
If you experience these conditions, call 911 immediately. Hopefully, if you are reading this, your condition has not advanced to this level of severity. By wearing compression stockings, you can significantly decrease your chances of progressing to this serious condition as compression prevents blood clots from forming in the first place.
If you are on bed rest because you are recovering from surgery, have health complications, or are pregnant, compression stockings can increase the circulation in your legs to prevent blood clots and swelling. This simple preventative measure can save you from further health complications in the long run and can even save your life.
Being on Your Feet All Day
If you are on your feet all day for work it is essential to take proper care of your lower extremities. Even if you don’t have a pre-existing vein condition, the effects of gravity can take their toll and you can experience swelling in your legs from the constant downward forces being applied all day long. Compression stockings are a great way to keep your legs feeling energized and ready to move. With the extra help, your circulation will be increased thereby preventing varicose veins from forming. Take some pressure off your legs with compression socks or stockings.
If you have arthritis in any of your extremity joints, compression stockings and sleeves can offer a great deal of relief. Arthritis is swelling and inflammation in the joints which can lead to lymph buildup and lack of circulation in the surrounding soft tissue. Compression devices help to move excess fluid out of the area while decreasing inflammation. The snugly fitting sleeve or stocking offers support for the joints, ligaments, and muscles to increase mobility and decrease pain.
Compression socks have gained popularity among athletes for performance and recovery. Some athletes say that compression increases proprioception and balance while reducing post-workout soreness. Athletes who wear compression socks during workouts believe they improve performance, increase oxygen delivery and blood flow, reduce stress to the muscles, and prevent injuries such as shin splints. Some believe compression socks contribute to more efficient muscle firing, increased endurance, and improved running times.
For post-workout recovery, athletes like to wear compression socks because they have been scientifically proven to reduce muscle soreness and speed up recovery times. This makes perfect sense when we understand that lactic acid causes soreness and compressing the legs facilitates more blood flow which flushes the acid out of the muscles and creates quicker regeneration of the muscle tissue.
Contact Us Today!
As you can see, compression therapy is helpful for so many conditions. Our caring and compassionate staff can help fit you for a perfect compression garment, instruct you on how to safely put it on/take it off, and how to continually care for your veins on a daily basis. Call or email us today at Commonwealth Vein Center in Colonial Heights, Virginia to set up your appointment and finally experience relief!