The concept of compression therapy is based on a simple and efficient mechanical principle consisting of applying an elastic garment around the leg. By compressing the limb with graduated compression (strongest at the ankle and decreasing going up the leg), the compression stocking acts as a layer of muscle by gently squeezing the stretched vein walls together, allowing the valves to close. The cavity of the vein is reduced, thereby restoring blood flow to a normal state and aiding overall circulation. Compression socks and stockings help the venous return, decrease venous pressure, prevent venous stasis and impair of venous walls, as well as efficiently relieve aching and heavy legs.
Indications and Contraindications
This treatment is prescribed by a physician to treat phlebitis, thrombosis, post vein surgery, and to relieve all manifestations of chronic venous disease (heavy legs, varicose veins, oedema, leg ulcers). It can also be prescribed to prevent venous troubles during pregnancy and long distance travel.
Contra-indications are limited, advanced peripheral obstructive arterial disease, severe uncontrolled congestive heart failure, septic phlebitis, oozing dermatitis, advanced peripheral neuropathy. Very few cases of allergy have been reported to one of the components. There are no secondary effects with compression therapy treatment when manufacturer's sizing chart is strictly followed.
Compression stockings are available in different degrees of compression depending on the severity of the pathology to be treated (see Indications). The pressure exerted by a compression stocking at ankle level is measured in milimeters of mercury (mmHg). Compression levels are defined by the different official norms (AFNOR in France, GZG in Germany). The physician prescribes the compression level corresponding to the pathology of the patient.
Depending on the pathology, medical compression therapy can be applied in different forms: socks, stockings (calf or thigh-length), pantyhoses, sleeves.