Benefits of Compression Stockings for Lymphedema
By: LegSmart - April 10, 2012
Lymphedema is something you may have never heard of, unless you or a loved one suffers from it. While there is currently no cure, compression stockings can be an important part of a patient’s game plan for managing painful swelling.
Lymphedema is a condition of the lymphatic system that causes lymphatic fluid to be retained in the limbs because of problems in the channels that typically carry it back toward the heart and into the bloodstream. Symptoms can range from slight swelling and a feeling of “heaviness” in the lower limbs to extreme deformity – also known as Elephantiasis.
Ways to Help Manage Lymphedema
Lymphedema is typically addressed using a variety of approaches, including:
Compression: Compression stockings or socks are often recommended for lymphedema. Wearing compression socks helps relieve early-stage fluid retention before it worsens. Compression stockings can also aid in keeping patients active, which is a necessity, and keeping fluid from returning to affected limbs in more advanced cases.
Massage: Affected limbs can be massaged to encourage fluid to leave the area. This manual compression is performed by a therapist.
Surgery: In severe cases of lymphedema where the limbs are not only unable to be drained but have hardened, surgery is sometimes performed to reduce the amount of fibrous tissue in the affected area. This may or may not be effective in the long term.
Why Compression Stockings are Important for Lymphedema Patients
Compression stockings are an essential part of helping control lymphedema. These can include compression socks, compression stockings and compression sleeves.
At an early stage, lymphedema can spontaneously reverse if aided by compression garments. At minimum, medical-grade compression socks and stockings can help stop early stage lymphedema from progressing. Additionally, after having the limbs drained via decongestive therapy, wearing compression stockings every day helps prevent the fluid from returning.