Medical compression therapy

Medical compression therapy applies a type of elastic device on limbs or other body parts to exert a controlled pressure on them. Thereby, the device squeezes the vein walls together and improves the circulatory rate. Medical compression also helps with reduction of edema and recreates conditions beneficial for the healing of chronic inflammatory disorders.

What is medical compression therapy?

Medical compression therapy consists of applying a type of elastic device, mainly on the limbs, to exert a controlled pressure on them. By compressing the limbs or other body regions, the medical compression device squeezes the vein walls together, thereby improving overall circulation and supporting blood flow back towards the heart.

In addition, it helps to reduce swelling and formation of edema in edematous tissues by reducing the capillary leakage into the tissue and supports the lymphatic drainage of interstitial fluid. Medical compression provides significant relief of leg aching, pain, the feeling of swelling and heaviness, and other venous and lymphatic symptoms. 

Different materials, forms, and styles available

Medical compression can be applied in different pressure degrees, forms, and styles and materials based on the symptoms and needs of individuals. Round- and flat-knitted garments (stockings, leggings, shorts, tights, pantyhose, arm sleeves, gloves, etc.), wraps, and bandages are available. 

To be effective, medical compression devices should be worn every day.

The effects of medical compression

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Effect on blood circulation

The controlled pressure exerted by medical compression stockings reduces the diameter of major veins, thereby increasing the velocity and volume of blood flow. Consequently, medical compression improves blood transport from the extremities towards the heart, reduces blood reflux and stagnation, and provides better drainage of the deep venous system, which all helps to increase and therefore improve the circulatory rate.

Effect on edematous tissue

Under medical compression, the balance in blood exchange is improved by reducing capillary leakage of fluid in the interstitial tissue. This leads to a better reduction of edema. A beneficial massaging effect of certain medical compression textiles, leading to a softening of hardened or fibrotic tissue, has been reported.  

In addition, medical compression recreates conditions beneficial for the healing of chronic inflammatory disorders (e.g. cellulitis, erysipelas, venous leg ulcers, etc.), through reduced pro‐inflammatory cytokine levels and higher levels of the anti‐inflammatory cytokines. Also, improved skin microcirculation has been reported.

Further reading