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Compression Clothing in Medical Therapies

Doctors have used compression clothing in various medical therapies for years, the top of which is compression therapy. This post defines compression therapy, explains how it works, and elaborates on how compression garments can aid in treating diseases. 

Let's dive in.

What is compression therapy?

Compression therapy uses compression clothing to help boost blood flow in different body parts, such as arms, shoulders, and legs. As a result, compression clothing helps to ease discomfort and lessen the chances of inflammation.

Medical conditions that require compression therapy 

Healthcare providers highly recommend the use of compression garments for patients with blood circulation issues such as;

Varicose veins

Varicose veins result from chronic venous insufficiency. They appear like raised, thick ropes winding under the skin. Compression clothing can effectively relieve the pain and swelling caused by varicose veins.

Swelling (edema) of the legs, ankles or feet

When fluids become trapped inside tissues, swelling occurs. Typically, fluids accumulate due to gravity. Luckily, the human body has internal mechanisms to prevent the pooling in various ways. 

However, in some instances, the swelling will still occur, and it can be caused by;

  • Congestive heart failure 
  • Pregnancy
  • Standing or sitting in one place for a prolonged duration
  • Lymphedema 

Compression therapy can help counter these conditions by applying pressure to the affected area, enabling the fluids to move and preventing accumulation.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

It's a blood clot that develops inside a vein deep in the body, often in one or both legs. The clot blocks normal blood flow, which results in swelling as blood accumulates behind it.

Healthcare providers can recommend compression clothing for persons at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis. Common risk factors are:

  • Chemotherapy 
  • Carrying heavy weight (mainly bodybuilders)
  • Immobility or lack of physical activity
  • During and after pregnancy (up to six weeks after giving birth) 

If you currently have deep vein thrombosis and are taking anticoagulants, also called blood thinners, it's advisable to try compression therapy. However, ensure you talk to your doctor before buying any compression garments to get advice on whether it's ideal.

Chronic venous insufficiency 

It's a prevalent condition that affects veins inside the legs. It arises when valves inside veins don't work correctly, and the walls of veins are weakened. Consequently, it will impair blood flow from your legs to the heart.

Chronic venous insufficiency can occur due to old age, prolonged standing or sitting, or deep vein thrombosis.

Compression clothing will help lessen chronic venous insufficiency by pressing a patient's leg muscles and pushing blood from the legs to the heart.

Orthostatic hypotension 

It's a condition characterized by a rapid blood pressure drop that occurs while standing up. Low blood pressure can make you feel lightheaded or dizzy. 

Compression garments can help treat this condition. They apply pressure to your leg muscles, forcing blood to flow freely from the heart to the legs and vice versa.

Maternity and pregnancy support 

Pregnancy places significant pressure on mothers, creating discomfort and swelling in some parts of the body, such as ankles. 

Compression garments, specially designed for pregnant patients, provide much-needed support to the abdomen. Additionally, they relieve pressure on the lower back area, preventing excessive swelling in ankles and legs.

What happens before compression therapy?

Your doctor will assess your medical condition to determine the compression needed. Apart from the pressure rating, they will also assess critical factors such as; 

  • How long you will wear them
  • Size and fit
  • Ways to correctly put them on

You can visit a medical supply store, where trained staff will take your measurements to get an ideal fit and guide you on wearing and removing the clothing.

How often do you wear compression clothing for medical therapies? 

Your doctor will explain how long you must use the compression garments based on your health situation. 

For instance, you will wear compression stockings and socks during the day and remove them at night. Some conditions, such as wounds or ulcers, require you to wear the clothing overnight.

When is compression clothing not advisable?

In some rare instances, compression garments cannot be employed; they include;

  • Open sores
  • Lack of sensation in the affected area
  • Leg size or shape that prevents gear from fitting safely
  • Cellulitis
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Severe peripheral neuropathy 

If you have any of the above conditions, it's critical that you seek advice from your medical provider before using compression garments.

Final Words 

Compression clothing is pivotal in many medical therapies. It aids blood flow and reduces swelling and pain caused by poor circulation. Compression garments are worth considering if you are experiencing swelling in your ankles, feet, or legs.