Should You Be wearing Compression Stockings For Lymphedema??
Why Do Individuals Use Compression Stockings?
Many people are turning to compression socks today for a variety of reasons and there are various benefits. Whether you are pregnant, an athlete, have a medical condition, or are simply on your feet all day for work, compression socks may be for you. Compression stockings can be purchased over the counter, but sometimes you need a specific type or amount of compression, which may require the assistance of a medical professional, depending on your specific needs.
Compression stockings provide pressure in feet and legs to assist with circulation and reducing swelling. They can come in a variety of styles and levels of compression depending on your specific needs. Let’s explore possible uses:
Types of Patients That Can Benefit From Compression Stockings
During pregnancy a woman has a higher blood volume and this in turn places a higher pressure on the veins and can cause increased swelling and a light compression stocking may assist in reducing this. IF you are pregnant or considering these during pregnancy, consult with your OB.
When we are standing on our feet all day our feet are at the bottom of our bodies which sometimes can lead to fluid pooling in the legs due to our veins having to work hard to push the fluid back up. Light compression stockings may assist with this since and help to reduce possible complications from prolonged swelling into legs and feet.
Compression is becoming increasingly popular during exercise and stockings during running are thought to improve comfort and improve soreness in muscles by increasing oxygen to the muscles and improving circulation.
When we are traveling our legs are often kept still and underneath our bodies for extended periods of time. This can lead to swelling and even more dangerous effects including blood clots. Compression stockings are helpful during prolonged travel by aiding in improving circulation.
5. Medical Conditions
One medical condition that benefits from compression stockings is venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency is when your veins are ineffective at ensuring all blood flows back up toward your heart. As a result you may notice swelling, varicose veins, or even skin discoloration or wounds. Compression stockings may assist with this, but you should also consult your physician.
Our bodies have a circulation system which involves the veins and arteries, however we also have a lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a part of our immune system and has lymph vessels which help to remove toxins and waste from the body. When this system is not functioning properly it can lead to an accumulation of protein-rich fluid and this is called lymphedema. Lymphedema presents as significant swelling which can affect the legs, but also other parts of the body as well. This can be contributed to by a variety of factors including cancer treatments, removal of lymph nodes, trauma, or a congenital condition. With this condition, you should see your physician for evaluation. Compression stockings are appropriate for this type of swelling as well, however often the swelling can be reduced with treatment by a physical therapist. Physical therapists can treat lymphedema to minimize the swelling into lower extremities and then allow for transition to compression stockings that are most appropriate in compression level and in fit for each patient.
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Written by Ashley Christenson, PT, DPT , lymphedema specialist in Salisbury Maryland