In this weeks Topic, Eamonn discusses the positive benefits properly fitted compression hosiery can have on improving your circulation
Posted by Eamonn Brady on
How Compression Hosiery can help you?
Compression hosiery are elasticated stockings that give support to your legs. In graduated compression hosiery, the pressure given by the stockings is greater at the ankle and reduces towards your knee. The stockings can be knee-length or thigh-length depending on your condition.
Why do I need compression hosiery?
The veins in your legs carry blood back to the heart. The calf muscles are responsible for pumping the blood through the veins back to the heart. The veins have one-way valves to ensure the blood flows in the correct direction. Damage to the veins and the valves can lead to the blood being unable to get out of the legs and collecting there, instead of being pumped back towards the heart. As a result, the pressure in the veins increases which can lead to the symptoms such as:
- Swelling of the ankles
- Pain in the calf and legs
- Aching in the leg
- An itching or burning sensation in the leg
- Darkening of the skin
- Leg ulcer
Possible causes of poor function of the veins include:
- Varicose veins
- A blood clot in the leg (this is also called deep vein thrombosis (DVT))
- Faulty valves in the veins deep inside the leg causing high pressure in the veins.
What are the benefits of compression hosiery?
By wearing compression stockings, symptoms due to the following conditions can improve:
- Varicose veins
- An open or healed leg ulcer
- Swollen legs due to likes of pregnancy, immobility after you have had venous surgery
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in legs)
Compression stockings apply pressure to your legs, which increases the blood flow in the veins upwards towards the heart. They work by squashing the veins and squeezing the blood back up your leg. This then helps to prevent venous leg ulcers and reduce swelling, pain, itching and the burning sensation in your legs. If you have had a leg ulcer, wearing compression stockings may prevent the leg ulcer from forming again.
Risks of compression hosiery
- Compression hosiery can cause skin damage if applied to a leg with a reduced blood supply; in this case compression hosiery is not recommended. If your leg increases in size and the stockings become too tight, they may cause skin damage. If you lose weight and your legs become thin, the compression stockings may become too loose and may not work. Some people can be allergic to the stockings, but this is very rare. If you have an allergic reaction to the stockings, remove them and seek advice from your health professional. If you get an infection in your leg (cellulitis), your leg may swell up and become hot and painful. In this case, you may find it too uncomfortable to wear the stocking. If this happens, you should seek advice from your GP, leave the stocking off and rest with your leg elevated. Your ankles should be elevated higher than your heart to reduce the swelling in your leg.
If you experience any pins or needles in the feet, numbness, discolouration, reaction to the stockings, shortness of breath or increased pain in the legs, remove the stockings and inform your health professional.
What are the alternatives?
Compression stockings are not a cure and need to be worn long-term to be effective. The alternative treatments available depend on the condition you are being treated for. For example, if varicose veins are the reason for you wearing the compression hosiery then varicose vein surgery, ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy and radio frequency ablation may be alternative treatments.
Free compression stockings measurement and fitting
With appointments available free of charge, and no appointment needed, Whelehans Compression Hosiery Consultation service provides a dedicated fitting service in our private consultation room. Our fully trained staff will guide you through a step by step process to ensure that you have the correct stocking. They are also qualified to advise on how to manage and maintain your hosiery, such as washing, removal, replacement etc. Once the consultation is complete, they will then order your hosiery which you can collect the following day.
To take advantage of this service, simply call into Whelehans Pearse St, Mullingar or call 044 9334591 for more information.
Are compression stockings allowed on the medical card?
For anyone with a medical card; the HSE allow you receive two free pairs of compression per annum (one every six months) once you have a valid prescription from your GP. You only need to pay the standard HSE Medical Card fee of €2 towards the cost of your stocking. The Whelehans pharmacy team can help and advice you on applying for your stocking via the hardship scheme.
To be continued…next week I will discuss how to apply and types of compression stockings.
Disclaimer: Please ensure you consult with your healthcare professional before making any changes recommended
For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans Pharmacies, log on to www.whelehans.ie or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore).