Compression therapy and wound care
Vascular/lymphatic injury or poor vascular circulation associated with chronic conditions such as diabetes may lead to swelling in the legs and/or ankles, DVT, lymphoedema (swelling caused by blockage of the lymph vessels), and breakdown of the skin (e.g. leg ulcers). If left untreated or poorly managed, these issues can lead to severe complications, which may result in infection and potentially limb amputation.
Compression therapy is the main treatment option for the management of circulatory and lymphatic conditions. It promotes return blood flow to the heart via the veins and delivery of oxygenated blood to the limbs via the arteries. It also minimises the build-up of lymphatic fluid and swelling. Compression more than doubles the chances of venous leg ulcers healing.1 It reduces pain and recurrences, and increases quality of life associated with these debilitating conditions.
The cost of caring for patients with chronic wounds such as leg ulcers is estimated at £2.3billion – £3.1billion per year.2 Recurrence is common and effective treatment may take up to 6 months. Optimal treatment usually requires specialist nursing care within the hospital setting, potentially including IPC therapy to provide controlled cyclic pressure to the leg muscles and improve vascular/lymphatic circulation.
Community-based treatment using compression stockings and dressings tend to be associated with poorer outcomes.3 Application of compression bandages or stockings usually requires expert fitting and may not provide the correct pressure for effective treatment. Unlike IPC therapy, the static pressure applied via stockings or dressings cannot compensate for the gravitational effect of lying, sitting or standing.