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Many people all around the world suffer from low extremity venous disorders. While factors such as heredity, age, physical trauma and/ or surgery may play a role in development of venous conditions, majority of risk factors are associated with our inactive lifestyles. Lack of exercise, our work environments, prolonged sitting or standing, excess weight, obesity, long distance travel in a car or a plane, may all contribute and predispose us to developing such conditions.
Our veins are very elastic and serve as blood reservoirs, containing more than half of the total blood volume in the body. Unlike arteries, the walls of the veins are not muscular and the blood pressure within is low; consequently veins cannot actively pump the blood back to our hearts. We require the movement of our lower extremities and the contraction of our leg muscles to literally squeeze the veins and push the blood forward while the one-way valves in the veins prevent the blood from flowing back. From this it is evident that with lack of movement our veins are not able to return blood to the heart as efficiently, valves of the veins stop functioning correctly and blood tends to pool in our lower extremities.
Recognizing venous deficiencies
Many typical and early signs of venous deficiencies include tired and achy legs, swollen feet, skin problems, spider and varicose veins. It is important not to dismiss these symptoms, as venous deficiencies may develop into more serious conditions such as, phlebitis, deep vein thrombosis or ulcers. Vascular conditions are progressive and prevention and halting progression is key. If you are experiencing any of the early symptoms, treatment options are available to stop further changes to the vein walls and damage to the valves.
Treating and preventing venous deficiencies
Graduated compression therapy is one of the most effective prevention and treatment methods for medical conditions related to venous circulation deficiencies. Compression socks and stockings provide the extra squeeze imitating the contraction of a calf muscle, which in turn pushes on the veins, allowing the one -way valves to close and propel the blood back up towards the heart. By aiding the calf muscles compression socks are able to normalize the circulation, take the burden off of the veins and prevent further damage.
These socks/ stockings vary in compression 1(5–20, 20–30, 30–40, 40–50, 50–60mmHg) and styles ( socks, thigh high, pantyhose) , to provide ultimate comfort and relief for a range of symptoms. Your medical doctor or chiropodist should determine which compression and style will best suit your needs to ensure maximal therapeutic benefit of the compression garment. Proper fitting is essential as it is important to find balance between beneficial compression and comfort. To be most effective a compression garment needs to be worn daily, put on at the beginning of the day and taken off before going to bed.
Physiomobility carries 3 different brands of compression stockings, Sigvaris, Achi by Lunatik Athletiks and Bauerfeind to suit the needs of all our patients. Contact our Don Mills or Thornhill locations to obtain more information on these compression garments.
While compression socks are excellent at improving circulation and preventing leg discomfort, do not forget that you can contribute to the health of your legs by making some adjustments to your lifestyle and habits. Here is a list:
- Exercise regularly – exercising has many health benefits. Swimming, walking, biking, yoga are excellent in improving circulation in lower extremities.
- Avoid prolonged sitting or standing- if you job requires you to sit or stand for long hours, take a short walk every few hours; climb stairs instead of taking an elevator; walk around your house.
- Weight management- ties in with regular exercise, activity and healthy diet.
- Elevation of legs- if you are experiencing swelling in your ankles, elevate your legs when sitting down or laying in bed, this will reduce the swelling as our veins will not have to fight gravity to pump the blood back to the heart.
Sherry Malik-Aslanova, Registered Kinesiologist