What is Compression Therapy?
Circulation issues in the leg can significantly slow down the wound healing process by keeping oxygenated blood from reaching the wound bed. Compression therapy applies an elastic garment to the leg, compressing it with pressure that’s strongest at the ankle and gradually decreasing as the pressure moves up the leg. This non-invasive therapy improves the healing rate by decreasing swelling in the legs, allowing oxygenated blood to reach the wound more easily.
In general, compression therapy has been shown to prevent recurring wounds and improve healing rates by up to 50%. Physicians often prescribe this treatment for patients with phlebitis, vein surgery aftercare, or thrombosis, and to relieve all manifestations of chronic venous disease (heavy legs, varicose veins, leg ulcers, edemas, etc.). It might also be prescribed to reduce venous pressure and prevent venous stasis.
But compression therapy is not indicated for every patient with leg circulation issues, including those with advanced peripheral obstructive arterial disease, congestive heart failure, advanced peripheral neuropathy, oozing dermatitis, and septic phlebitis.
The two most widely-used types of compression products are specialty bandages and medical compression therapy (stockings, socks, sleeves, and tights). Choosing the best product hinges upon several factors that include medical condition(s) and length of treatment. Depending on the severity of the condition being treated, compression products are also available in four degrees of compression (classes 1 – 4), with class 1 providing the lightest compression and class 4 the heaviest. All factors must be discussed with your doctor before choosing which compression product and degree of compression is right for you.