Chronic venous diseases have a myriad of causes, and each one has multiple means of treatment. For several, one of the simplest and least intrusive methods is compression therapy. Many of our patients come to us asking what is compression therapy: compression therapy refers to wearing compression stockings to improve circulation.
By wearing compression therapy stockings, circulation improves and swelling decreases. The stockings also decrease the risk of blood clots. The stockings themselves can come in a variety of brands and different strengths of compression
About Compression Therapy
Compression stockings can slow the progress of issues caused by bulging veins, as well as relieve your varicose veins symptoms. How they work is quite simple: the stockings squeeze the legs, which then reduces the blood and pressure in the veins. They are often called compression socks or support stockings, in addition to the common name of compression stockings.
Essentially, these garments are elastic socks or stockings that compress the leg to promote lymphatic and vein circulation.
Of course, varicose veins are not the only problems compression stockings can treat. While mild symptoms of protruding veins can often be treated using support hosiery, knee socks or knee-highs, symptoms that are more serious may require special medical-grade compression stockings. You will need to get a compression stocking prescription from a doctor for these garments.
For example, frequent travelers often wear compression socks, combined with exercise to reduce the risk of DVT, which can often occur for those sitting for long periods of time. These garments can also reduce leg fatigue often experienced by travel or having to stand for long periods of time.
People who have lymphedema, a condition where the body is having difficulty circulating lymphatic fluid and leads to swelling or discomfort in the limbs, also appreciate the benefits of compression stockings as they can help with the swelling, as well as reduce the risk of skin breakdown or infection.
Increasing blood flow is important for many people with chronic venous diseases, as well as those with chronic venous insufficiency. By addressing issues with blood flow, they not only directly target symptoms such as swelling and aching, but attack the cause of the problems: poor circulation. This means they’re often important during long periods of rest after surgery, or for many with spider veins or varicose veins. From pregnant women trying to avoid getting spider veins to someone with progressed varicose veins, many can benefit from compression therapy concepts.
Compression therapy isn’t always necessary—there may be other options out there. However, they are a popular option as they are non-surgical. Plus, without treatment, many chronic venous diseases can worsen. As such, compression therapy can function as not just a treatment, but a prevention of, leg fatigue and swelling. And as always, if your doctor prescribes you compression therapy, then yes, it is necessary!
The stockings themselves are differentiated according to the amount of pressure they apply, measured in mmHg (millimeter of mercury). The pressure is strongest around the ankle, and decreases as the stocking rises up the leg. At the lower range are 8 – 15 mmHg stockings. These aren’t much stronger than normal socks, and might be suitable for anyone with tired legs or swelling. At the higher end are 30 – 40 mmHg. Stockings with these numbers should only be used if prescribed, often to deal with severe chronic venous insufficiency or post-thrombotic syndrome. In general, to avoid side-effects, you should go with the lowest necessary pressure prescribed to you.
You should consult with your physician as to the type of compression stocking you should use, as compression stocking pressure levels vary by design. These garments should be properly sized when the leg is least swollen, and if needed, you can have them made to order. Furthermore, remember that compression stockings should be snug, so make sure you get the correct measurements for your compression stockings – it may take a while for you to get used to wearing them. You will need to wear them all day, so they should still be comfortable.
If you feel compression stockings can help alleviate the varicose veins symptoms that you are experiencing, call us today at the Skin and Vein Center. We will sit down with you during an initial consultation to discuss all of your options for treatment, as well as dispel some myths about vein disease you may have heard. Call us today to learn more information about the benefits of compression socks and see what else the Skin and Vein Center can do for you!
There are a few varicose vein treatments available in our Skin & Vein centers, such as ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy and EVLT treatment.