Compression therapy provides that wonderful sigh of relief to anyone suffering from vein-related issues in the legs. In its various forms — compression hose, socks, athletic apparel, wraps, pumps — compression therapy can help:
Relieve feelings of tiredness, heaviness and achiness
Energize legs by giving the leg veins something to push against and pump better
Extend activity time – standing, sitting, playing, running
Decreases swelling associated with edema, lymphedema
Promote faster healing post-vein treatment procedure by reducing swelling and bruising and putting the squeeze on any soreness.
The Great Compression.
Compression therapy is the preferred, go-to conservative treatment option for relieving symptoms associated with mild to moderately severe vein disease conditions or whenever circulation is compromised, such as sitting or standing for extended periods (ex. long-haul travel). Compression wear is also required during insurance “wait periods” that most patients must complete before having a vein treatment done.
Compression Wear Helps You Defy Gravity.
The legs have the herculean task of pumping blood against the forces of gravity. A task that becomes very difficult if vein walls or valves are weakened by vein disease or muscle contraction isn’t happening on a regular basis (ex. while sitting or standing for extended periods).
Compression products provide the anti-gravity force necessary to properly circulate blood through the legs and back up to the heart. Proper blood flow helps prevent the accumulation of blood in the leg veins and lymph fluid that causes edema.
Compressed Legs are Happy Legs.
Wearing compression socks or stockings on a regular basis is very important to the treatment and prevention of varicose veins and other circulatory problems, especially for people predisposed to vein disease.
For people with insurance that requires to wait for a specified time period before undergoing a varicose vein procedure, conservative treatment measures like compression hose and socks must be worn.
Know the lingo. Know how to buy.
There are certain catch words attached to compression wear – medical grade, graduated compression, mmHg. Dr. Hamilton strongly recommends compression products that are listed as medical grade and graduated compression for the best benefit.
Here are some terms that can help you make the right choice for you:
Medical Graduated Compression means applied pressure varies from one part of the leg to the other in order to provide the force necessary to pump blood back up towards the heart. Pressure is strongest at the ankle and gradually decreases up the calf and up into the thigh (in stockings).
The support stockings or socks you find at places like Walgreens and department stores are not graduated and will not provide the same benefit. Medical grade products are available through medical supply stores, some pharmacies, and online. Notable names are Medi, TotalVein, Jobst. For you runners out there, Hamilton Vein Center carries the CEP line of graduated compression running socks from Medi and we provide medical grade support hose for all of our patients who undergo a vein treatment.
mmHg or millimeters of Mercury is how compression is expressed – just like barometric pressure. Compression stockings and socks are made in different strengths. The strength represents the squeeze on the ankle and calf – with the most squeeze or pressure being put on the ankle where blood flow gets muddled up the most. This graduated squeeze up the leg helps move blood up out of the leg.
MEDI, Jobst, AmesWalkers, CEP and Storgis all have nice lines of medical-grade compression wear.
What’s your mmHg?
Choosing the proper compression depends on your diagnosis and severity of symptoms. In order to get the most benefit, confer with Dr. Hamilton if you’re not sure.
In general, these are the guidelines to follow:
- Light support: 4-14 mmHg. Keep legs feeling energized. Ideal for the non-/mild-symptomatic vein sufferer who stand or sit for extended periods.
- Moderate support: 15-20 mmHg. Recommended for mild varicose or spider veins and associated feelings of tiredness, achiness and heaviness; mild swelling.
- Heavy support: 20-30 mmHg. Moderate lymphedema/edema (swelling), moderate varicose veins.
- Prescription strength: 30-40 mmHg (compressive strength) – available only by prescription from a physician. Severe lymphedema/edema (swelling), severe varicose veins, redness or discoloration of the skin.
Compression = Better Blood Flow = Energized, Healthier Legs
Compression socks or stockings are the closest form of relief short of procedural intervention for the treatment and management of varicose veins and other vein-related issues. These treatments may make your legs feel better while using them, but these measures will not stop your veins from getting worse. More importantly, these measures will not treat your veins permanently. True relief comes from minimally invasive procedures that offer virtually painless closing of the vein that redirects the blood flow and improves circulation.
Hamilton Vein Center is Houston’s leading vein treatment center with locations to serve you in Sugar Land, Bellaire, Lake Jackson and Kingwood. Tomball and Clear Lake locations open in February 2013.
Make an appointment today and find out how our vein specialists can help you look and feel better today. Call 281-565-0033 now to schedule your consultation.