Venous leg ulcers are painful wounds in the lower extremities that commonly affect older people, obese people and people who may have suffered a previous leg injury. The pain can be chronic and last weeks, even years. Compression therapy has been shown to be an especially effective tool for both treating venous leg ulcers and preventing new ones. There are several different types of compression therapy options available, each of them suitable for different scenarios.
Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Sleeves
One of the most high-tech compression therapy devices is a sleeve through which air is pumped in and out in order to tighten and relax. The sleeve compresses the limb, forcing blood and lymph out of the pressurized area, and then releases to allow body fluids to return. Studies published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences have shown that these devices provide the most effective compression therapy for treating leg ulcers. Their use allows wounds to heal faster and helps patients better manage the symptoms of chronic vein disease.
Pneumatic devices may offer the most effective treatment, but compression stockings are almost as good; they are also typically the more affordable options. The stockings don’t alternate pressure mechanically, but they do grade it. Pressure is tightest at the ankle and decreases as the stockings travel up the leg. Stockings have been the standard treatment for chronic vein disease since the 1950s, and reduce swelling in the tissue under the skin in addition to keeping veins from overfilling with blood. The downside to the stockings is that they are notoriously difficult to put on, and may require skin lotion or other lubricants to fit.
If a pneumatic device is out of your price range and stockings are too hard to use regularly, you might consider a compression bandage system. These bandages are wrapped tightly around the foot and ankle daily. Ideally, the dressing should create multiple layers of compression, as two-layer bandages are less effective at treating vein problems. The compression bandages must be properly applied, so it’s important to get detailed instructions from your physicians and lots of practice. Luckily, in the Internet Age you can find tutorials online or contact Texas Endovascular for help in making sure you get it right.
A more rigid dressing option is Unna’s boot. Bandages are infused with zinc oxide and calamine to ease skin irritation, as well as perform compression therapy. They can be helpful for wounds that drain heavily, and are generally worn for up to seven days without changing. Because the dressing needs changing less often, it can be more cost effective than other compression bandages; however, you should expect treatment to last up to six months. Unna’s boots are also helpful for people with a more active lifestyle, since they can generally be worn with conventional footwear and don’t require a daily application that cuts into your time.
But Before You Buy...
Compression therapy can be dangerous for some patients. Those with arterial diseases or congestive heart disease especially need to be extra cautious. You should never begin compression therapy without first consulting a doctor to make sure it is the best course of treatment and a safe course of action.
The Right Therapy for You
Texas Endovascular's staff has experience treating patients who require compression therapy to alleviate their vein and vascular pain. We’re here to help you find the right solution for your unique needs, and to answer any questions while you’re healing. Contact us today.