Compression stockings can help alleviate venous insufficiency and serve as wound dressings for venous ulcers.

Compression therapy is a simple yet effective technique best known perhaps for its use in diabetic wound care. The therapy generally involves the use of stockings or socks (though compression pumps are also available in more extreme cases) specially made to support the veins and enhance the flow of blood in the legs, an issue that makes it difficult for many diabetics to heal from ulcers on the extremities. But compression can benefit other patient populations as well, including people with venous insufficiency.

What is venous insufficiency?

Venous insufficiency is a condition in which the blood vessels that transfer blood from the arms, legs and organs to the heart are impaired (though the most commonly affected area is the legs). The valves may become damaged while the walls weaken. It can cause the veins to stay filled with blood, particularly when the person is standing up, and can lead poor circulation and blood clots. According to the National Institutes of Health, venous insufficiency is a chronic condition that has a number of risk factors, including age, family history, obesity, pregnancy and a history of deep vein thrombosis. Women and people who are tall are also at an increased risk of developing venous insufficiency.

The symptoms of this condition include leg cramps, tingling sensations and heaviness in the extremities in some cases. You may also experience redness or other discoloration around the ankles and varicose veins, not to mention weakness in the legs. Another common symptom is ulcers on the ankles and legs as well as slow healing wounds in these areas. Venous insufficiency can also cause lymphedema – an accumulation of lymphatic fluid that leads to swelling in the extremities – to develop. It can be very painful and make standing or walking difficult. But the aim of compression therapy is to minimize the swelling, maintain natural size of the extremity and allow the patient to be mobile and active in everyday life as well as care for his or her limb properly.

Effects of compression therapy on venous insufficiency

Compression therapy has been used for thousands of years, though it has seen advancement as of late as technology and research into the therapy progress. The compression sock or wrap is applied to the affected limbs to provide gentle yet firm pressure that can bring down swelling and enhance blood flow. It can also be a form of treatment for lymphedema, using pressure to push the accumulated lymphatic fluid out of the extremities and back into the body, which naturally eliminates it.

Another major benefit of compression for people who suffer from venous insufficiency is that the method of therapy can enhance the treatment of ulcers on the legs. After receiving basic wound care, the patient can use compression therapy to improve blood flow, which aids the healing process. In fact, the Journal of Vascular Nursing notes that compression therapy combined with moist wound care is the most effective form of treatment for venous ulcers.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.