Just as Vitamin C may be prescribed for any number of different medical situations, wearing compression stockings can help battle several different chronic health conditions.
In general, compression stockings work by applying graduated pressure along the legs. (In other words, compression stockings are tighter at the ankle and decrease in pressure as you move up the leg.) This pressure improves blood circulation, as compression of the surface arteries, veins and muscles in the lower legs helps propel blood back up toward the heart.
This increased blood circulation can help relieve many different medical conditions and is the key benefit people receive when wearing compression stockings from premium brands such as Juzo, Mediven and Sigvaris. Compression stockings can help alleviate various medical conditions, including the following chronic diseases.
Edema is a general medical term that simply refers to swelling in the body. In this sense, edema can be used to describe anything from the swelling around the eyes that occurs first thing in the morning to the swelling around the brain that naturally occurs at high altitudes.
Juzo, Mediven and Sigvaris compression stockings are made to treat a specific type of edema that occurs in the lower legs. Peripheral edema manifests itself as shiny, stretched skin and swelling around the ankle and calf. When peripheral edema occurs, liquid becomes trapped in the interstitial areas of the body, outside of the blood vessels. Swelling naturally occurs in the lower areas of the body as gravity pulls liquids down into the legs. Walking may be painful for those with peripheral edema.
In general, there are two types of edema: pitting and non-pitting edema. Pitting edema may be identified by applying pressure to the swollen area. If an indentation remains after you remove the pressure, you are looking at a case of pitting edema. Skin around non-pitting edema will bounce right back after you relieve the pressure. Compression stockings are useful for treating both kinds of edema.
Phlebitis and thrombosis occur when veins become inflamed. Phlebitis occurs in superficial veins closer to the skin's surface; thrombosis manifests in larger blood vessels, usually in the legs.
Phlebitis may be identified by swelling of the extremities, a slight fever, hard veins that are sensitive to pressure, and nearby areas of redness and sensitivity to touch. Typically, the concern with phlebitis is that it may cause a blood clot to form. Blood clots may then travel to the lungs, heart or brain, where they may become caught and cause strokes or heart attacks. Wearing compression stockings helps improve circulation and thereby lessens the chance that clots will become deadly.
Phlebitis symptoms are often worse when the leg is lowered, such as when first getting out of bed in the morning. Healthy people may experience phlebitis after being trapped in a certain position for a long period of time. (This explains one of the disease's nicknames "economy-class syndrome.") Long flights and car rides restrict movement and blood circulation in the legs. Varicose veins are a common form of phlebitis.
Compression stockings help offset phlebitis by squeezing the veins and thereby reducing the amount of excessive liquid that builds up in the legs.
Thrombosis happens when a blood clot completely or partially blocks a blood vessel. Blood clots are not uncommon following surgery, injury, pregnancy or extended bed rest. Irritation, swelling, redness and warmth may accompany thrombosis. However, thrombosis does not always present symptoms, making it more challenging to treat.
Compression stockings are useful for both reducing the symptoms of thrombosis and preventing deep-vein thrombosis from occurring. Again, compression stockings help by forcing blood to flow through different vessels. If you are experiencing the symptoms of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) for the first time, you should immediately consult with your doctor. DVT is considered a medical emergency because it could quickly transition into a moving blood clot that could become lodged in the heart, lungs or brain. If swelling limbs are new to you, you should contact your doctor just to be safe.
Lymphedema occurs when the body's lymph system is compromised. It appears as fluid retention and tissue swelling, often in the legs. Extreme fatigue, heavy swollen limbs, skin discoloration and even deformation can accompany lymphedema. Poorly developed lymph nodes, parasitic infections and the aftereffects of cancer surgery are known to be causes of this disease.
The first stage of treatment for lymphedema involves manually draining the body of excessive liquid, followed by skin care, compressive bandaging and physical therapy. After this stage, the patient should be fitted with compression stockings, which will help maintain the effects of the first stage of treatment.
Edema, phlebitis, thrombosis and lymphedema are only a few of the conditions that compression stockings can treat. If you experience any of the conditions described here, please talk to your doctor about whether or not compression stockings are right for you. Always talk to a medical professional about your health.