When the venous walls and/or one-way valve in long leg veins do not function properly to direct blood away from the leg and back to the heart, the force of gravity takes over and creates a back flow or downward flow of blood. This results in blood collecting or pooling in the veins, creating venous hypertension; often described by patients as having “heavy legs”.
The increased volume of blood in the lower leg veins causes pressure in leg veins to increase and stretches the walls of the veins, allowing proteins to leach into surrounding tissues. A brownish/purple stain forms; referred to as hemosiderin staining. This is a classic characteristic of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
This condition typically results in itchy, scaly skin but, over time, can lead to open sores or ulcers in the lower leg area between the ankle and calf. These sores are known as venous leg ulcerations (VLUs) and are accompanied by pain and wound drainage. Venous hypertension accounts for approximately 70-80% of lower leg or venous stasis ulcers.
Compression is considered essential for management of chronic venous insufficiency and treatment of venous leg ulcers. Compression maximizes calf muscle pump action to:
- Restore circulation and improve venous return.
- Improve both venous and lymphatic function.
- Reduce venous hypertension and venous reflux.
- Help provide needed oxygen and nutrients for wound healing.
- Reduce elevated matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) levels to promote healing of VLUs.
- Relieve associated clinical symptoms including heaviness, itching and pain.
Compression reduces the reoccurrence rate of VLUs and has been shown to resolve fibrotic tissue resulting in softened skin.