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Home >  Compression Garments for Healing: Not Just for Grandma Anymore!

 Compression Garments for Healing: Not Just for Grandma Anymore!

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Compression garments, also known as compression sleeves or stockings, have been around for many years and your grandmother may have worn them, along with a pair of orthopaedic shoes, to manage circulatory issues or foot and leg problems. They may have been effective therapeutically, but definitely weren’t the most glamorous look for Nana!

Surprisingly, compression garments and compression therapy have gained popularity and are making a comeback in the field of orthopedics as an adjunctive therapy for various musculoskeletal conditions. These specialized garments apply controlled pressure to specific anatomical regions, improving circulation, providing support, and managing various orthopedic conditions. Orthopedic physicians are increasingly incorporating compression garments into their treatment plans to enhance patient outcomes. Best of all, you can now get them in black, hot pink and other stylish colors to be IG ready while healing.

Physiological Mechanisms:

The therapeutic effects of compression garments are rooted in their ability to exert pressure on the underlying tissues. This pressure assists in the reduction of edema and improves blood and lymphatic circulation. By compressing the affected area, compression garments facilitate the removal of metabolic waste products and provide a supportive environment for tissue healing. Moreover, compression aids in stabilizing joints and muscles, thereby enhancing proprioception and reducing the risk of injury.

According to Wikipedia, proprioception, also called kinesthesia, is the sense of self-movement, force, and body position in space, is also sometimes described as the “sixth sense”. Proprioception is mediated by proprioceptors, mechano-sensory neurons located within muscles, tendons, and joints.

Benefits in Tissue Healing:

Compression garments have demonstrated remarkable benefits in tissue healing. By promoting optimal circulation, these garments facilitate the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to injured tissues, fostering the repair process. Additionally, compression garments help in reducing the accumulation of fluid and edema, thereby preventing the formation of scar tissue. This promotes a more favorable healing environment, reduces pain, and accelerates recovery following orthopedic injuries or surgeries.  That’s a win for patients in my book!

Pain and Inflammation Reduction:

Compression garments have shown effectiveness in reducing pain and inflammation associated with orthopedic conditions. The pressure exerted by these garments helps to decrease swelling and edema, alleviating pain by reducing the activation of pain receptors. Furthermore, compression garments aid in stabilizing injured structures, leading to improved joint alignment and reduced stress on surrounding tissues. This can result in decreased pain perception and enhanced functional outcomes for patients.  What knee replacement patient doesn’t want to perceive less pain post-operatively, I ask you?

Enhanced Proprioception and Joint Stability:

One of the notable benefits of compression garments is their ability to enhance proprioception and joint stability. The compressive pressure applied by these garments provides a sensory input that improves joint awareness and alignment. This enhanced proprioceptive feedback is particularly valuable in the rehabilitation of orthopedic injuries, as it helps patients regain control and stability. Compression garments can aid in restoring normal movement patterns, reducing the risk of re-injury, and facilitating a faster return to physical activity.  This may be more noticeable and important in recuperating athletes; but worth mentioning, nonetheless.

Postoperative Rehabilitation:

Instead of using Ace bandages, compression garments are now playing a valuable role in postoperative rehabilitation protocols. They are now more frequently employed to reduce postoperative swelling, manage pain, and enhance tissue healing following orthopedic surgeries. By providing support and compression, these garments aid in maintaining joint alignment, reducing the risk of complications, and promoting a faster recovery. Additionally, compression garments can enhance patient compliance with rehabilitation exercises and facilitate early mobilization.  Plus, patients don’t have to worry about rewrapping the Ace bandage too tightly or loosely, when they can just pull on the compression sleeve over their incision site.

Considerations and Limitations:

While compression garments offer numerous benefits, it is crucial for orthopedic physicians to consider certain factors before recommending their use. Circulatory disorders are almost always a non-starter regarding their use. Patient-specific factors such as skin sensitivity and allergies must be carefully evaluated. Additionally, appropriate sizing and pressure gradients should be chosen based on the patient’s condition and treatment goals. Too tight compression garments can damage the patient’s skin and tissues by cutting off circulation and acting as a tourniquet.  Alternatively, compression garments that are too loose won’t provide the desired therapeutic results, so it is very important they be fitted properly.



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