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.
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.
If you think your symptoms can be addressed with compression therapy, ask a healthcare professional for their advice. They can tell you more about your condition, and whether or not someone with your lifestyle would benefit from compression therapy, as well as what pressure of stocking to get.
We naturally recommend the Skin and Vein Center if you have questions—we specialize in dermatology, from acne to varicose veins. So, if you are interested in using compression therapy to address your varicose or spider veins, call us at 800-400-8346 to set up an appointment.