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    The Benefits of Wearing Compression Socks After Surgery

     

    Compression stockings or socks are elastic garments that you wear around your legs to enhance blood circulation from your legs to your heart. Because elastic hosiery improves circulation and provides support, it is often prescribed by healthcare providers to people with leg vein problems and disorders, such as varicose veins, venous insufficiency, leg ulcers, and lymphedema, among others. Wearing compression stockings, socks, or sleeves can significantly relieve unpleasant symptoms, which include tired and achy legs.

     

    People who have recently undergone treatment through certain surgical procedures may benefit from wearing compression garments. Healthcare providers usually recommend the use of compression garments when patients are unable or less likely to move around after their surgery. In most cases, patients have limited movements after having mild or major surgery. They are also advised to have plenty of rest after their surgery to help reduce pain and avoid causing unnecessary injury or stress to their body. Assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, or walkers may also be required all throughout your recovery.

     

    Although compression stockings or socks can be quite challenging to put on if you have limited mobility, particularly after your surgery, know that they can help you achieve a faster recovery and help prevent the development of blood clots in your legs. Let’s take an in-depth look at the benefits of compression socks after surgery:

    1. Prevent Leg Vein Problems

    Post-surgery recovery and therapy often take some time and may require plenty of rest. You may be required to remain completely inactive or partially immobile depending on the type of surgical procedure you had. Although rest is beneficial after surgery, being immobile for a few days up to weeks can also have a bad effect since it can increase your risk of developing potentially life-threatening medical conditions, such as DVT or deep vein thrombosis.  

     

    Deep vein thrombosis is a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in the deep veins of your arms, legs, or pelvis. A blood clot can block the flow of blood or break off and travel all the way to your brain, lungs, or heart causing serious problems. The risk of developing deep vein thrombosis also tends to increase the longer you’re immobile after your surgery. Being active encourages muscle movements, which enable the proper pumping of blood to the heart. 

     

    Aside from prolonged inactivity, surgical procedures can also increase your risk of having blood clots since foreign substances, such as fat, collagen, and tissue debris could also be released into your bloodstream during surgery. When this happens, blood tends to thicken, which then leads to coagulation or clot formation. The release of certain particles to your bloodstream may also trigger the body to release particular substances that naturally initiate blood clotting.

     

    One way to help prevent these post-surgical problems is by wearing compression garments. Deep vein thrombosis often occurs in the deep vein of your legs due to poor circulation, so using compression stockings or socks after surgery can help provide enough pressure to maintain proper blood flow even when you are confined to your bed.

    2. Prevent or Reduce Swelling

    One of the side effects of surgery is swelling. The severity of this side effect also depends on the type of surgery, site of incision, and health of the patient, including specific treatments received prior to surgery. When you are confined in your bed for a longer period of time, swelling can develop and delay the healing process.

     

    By using compression hosiery after your surgery, swelling can be prevented or relieved. Your healthcare provider is usually the one who will prescribe you with the medical-grade compression garment you need. It comes it different levels of graduation depending on your condition. Compression garments are also available in different types, lengths, and brands. A variety of colors, designs, or patterns are also available to suit your personal style. Compression stockings generally provide more compression at your ankles and then gradually decrease toward your upper legs. Compression garments also have other features, which you may want to consider before purchasing one.

     

    It is very important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions when compression hosiery is recommended after your surgery. Compression stockings or socks are often worn all day and night until you are capable of moving around by yourself.

    3. Promote a Safe Recovery

    Using compression garments promotes both a safer and faster recovery after any type of surgery. Wearing compression stockings or socks while lying in bed post-surgery can help prevent blood clots from forming. It enables a safer recovery since compression garments also prevent other injuries or conditions from developing. Compression stockings work by stimulating the movement of blood through the veins in your legs, preventing blood to collect or pool in your leg veins. 

     

    There is also a higher risk of blood clot formation in patients who have undergone orthopedic surgery, such as joint replacement procedures. For these patients, the use of compression socks is a must in their road to recovery. Their healthcare provider will be the one who will prescribe the type of compression socks they need along with providing recommendations on how long they’ll be wearing the socks to have a better and successful outcome of their surgery.

    Final Thoughts

    Even though putting on compression socks after surgery can be bothersome and challenging, don’t let these obstacles keep you from reaping its benefits. Yes, they can be tight, but for a good cause. Moreover, recovering after your surgery isn’t always complicated, but it often involves patience and extra energy to diligently follow your surgeon’s instructions to have a safer and better recovery.

     

    Surgical patients who fail to follow their doctor’s instructions after their surgery eventually experience prolonged discomforts, pain, and a slower healing process. Wearing compression garments after surgery can help the vein in your legs to properly function and contribute to your full recovery. Knowing what you can do to hasten your post-operative recovery can also help you return to your daily normal activities in no time.

     

    References:

     

    Department of Surgery - Deep Vein Thrombosis. (2018). Surgery.ucsf.edu. Retrieved from https://surgery.ucsf.edu/conditions--procedures/deep-vein-thrombosis.aspx

     

    Deep Vein Thrombosis and Post-Thrombotic Syndrome. (2012). Vascular Disease Foundation. Retrieved from http://vasculardisease.org/flyers/focus-on-compression-stockings-flyer.pdf

     

    What is Venous Thromboembolism? | CDC. (January 2019). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/facts.html

     

    A Patient’s Guide to Recovery After Deep Vein Thrombosis or Pulmonary Embolism | Circulation. (April 2014). Retrieved from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.006285

    Treatment of Shin Splints

    Treatment of Shin Splints

    How are shin splints treated?

    Treating shin splints is quite easy in most cases. Motion splints tend to resolve within 2-3 weeks with rest and simple home remedies, which include:

    • Applying cold compresses using ice packs
    • Elevating your legs
    • Gently stretching your shin, calf, and heel
    • Wearing compression socks
    • Massaging your legs with foam rollers
    • Not running until walking is pain-free
    • Wearing appropriate running shoes

    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as naproxen sodium and ibuprofen can also be taken to help relieve pain and inflammation. In some people, an orthotic may be needed to properly correct overpronation. However, if pain persists after three weeks, make sure to contact a physical therapist.

    Can shin splints be prevented?

    In most cases, shin splints can be prevented by not overtraining, knowing when to rest and resume, not running on uneven surfaces, and using proper running shoes. Another way to prevent getting shins splints is by using compression gear. According to certain studies, wearing compression garments can help runners and athletes improve their endurance performance and other related complaints, such as muscle pain, muscle damage, and inflammation (2,3). Runners also tend to recover better and faster when they use compression garments.

    Compression wear can help increase blood flow around the affected part of your shin and assist in the healing process. Professional-grade compression can help prevent shin splints along with its common symptoms, such as pain, discomfort, and swelling.

     

    Aside from using compression garments, properly fitting running shoes, and not overtraining, there are also other steps that you can take to prevent shin splints. They include:

     

    • Making sure to avoid exercising or running on tilted roads or surfaces
    • Choosing shoes that feature shock-absorbing insoles
    • Replacing your running shoes after reaching approximately 300-500 miles
    • Gradually increasing your mileage or exercise intensity
    • Including pre-running or pre-workout stretches in your routine
    • Taking the time to warm up before any exercise or workout
    • Performing toe exercises or strength training to help build the muscles in your calf
    • Taking rest days to let your body heal and recover
    • Avoiding any intensive exercises if you have severe muscle pain

    Outlook for Shin Splints

    Generally, people with shin splints have an excellent prognosis toward a full recovery. However, in certain cases, physical therapy may be required as part of its treatment.

    References

    1. Running: How to Safely Increase Your Mileage | Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. (2014). Journal Of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.jospt.org/doi/full/10.2519/jospt.2014.0506
    2. Engel FA, e. (2016). Is There Evidence that Runners can Benefit from Wearing Compression Clothing? - PubMed - NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27106555
    3. Hettchen, M., Glöckler, K., von Stengel, S., Piechele, A., Lötzerich, H., Kohl, M., & Kemmler, W. (2019). Effects of Compression Tights on Recovery Parameters after Exercise Induced Muscle Damage: A Randomized Controlled Crossover Study. Evidence-Based Complementary And Alternative Medicine, 2019, 1-11. doi:10.1155/2019/5698460
    4. Shin Splints - OrthoInfo - AAOS. (2012). Orthoinfo.aaos.org. Retrieved from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/shin-splints
    5. Symptoms and Causes - Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Mayoclinic.org. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/shin-splints/symptoms-causes/syc-20354105?p=1

    5 Ways to Relieve Leg Cramps

    5 Ways to Relieve Leg Cramps

    Leg cramps are a sudden and painful tightening of the muscles in your thigh, calf, or feet. These involuntary muscle spasms in your legs are also called charley horses, which can occur any time, whether you’re in the middle of your workout routine or while lying in bed.

     

    Recurrent leg cramps can be debilitating and annoying at the same time. They can last for a few seconds up to 5-10 minutes and can leave tenderness in the affected area up to 24 hours. Let’s take a look at some of the causes of leg cramps and the things you can do to manage or relieve them.

    What Are the Causes of Leg Cramps?

    Our muscles normally contract and relax. However, when our muscles involuntary contract and are unable to relax, muscle cramps happen. Severe pain from these cramps can be experienced when there is prolonged muscle contraction.

     

    Most leg cramps are not a cause for concern and quickly resolve without any medical intervention. Some of the most common causes of leg cramps include inadequate warm-up stretches before exercising or engaging in physical activities, muscle overuse, or being in the same position for a long period of time. However, certain people may experience leg cramps due to underlying health conditions, which include:

     

    • Diabetes
    • Thyroid problem
    • Liver disorders
    • Nerve damage
    • Insufficient blood supply
    • Mineral deficiency
    • Low electrolyte levels
    • Dehydration

     

    There are also people who are more prone to getting leg cramps. They include the elderly, athletes, pregnant women, and the overweight and obese. Fortunately, there are simple remedies that you can try to help ease the pain from leg cramps.

    What to Do When You Get Leg Cramps

    If you’re getting leg cramps, the following remedies may provide support and relief:

     

    1. Stretches or Massages

    If your leg cramps are due to exercise and other strenuous activities, you can simply stretch the affected part of your leg and gently massage it to help the muscle relax and stop the contraction. You can prevent these painful leg cramps by making sure that you stretch before and after your exercise or fitness routine. 

     

    If you have nighttime leg cramps in bed, stretch out the affected muscle by standing up and pushing your heel down to put weight on it. Remain in this position until the cramp goes away. If it’s difficult for you to stand, you can straighten your leg and pull the top of your foot toward you. Hold this position until you feel better.

     

    2. Heat and Cold Therapy

    Heat can help relax and loosen tissues as well as increase the blood flow in the affected area. Apply a hot compress such as a warm towel or place a heating pad to your tight muscles to achieve relief. Another option for heat therapy includes soaking in a nice warm bath or taking a hot shower. Alternately, cold therapy can help relieve soreness or tenderness because of its numbing effect.

     

    3. Stay Hydrated

    Fitness enthusiasts and athletes are often at risk of getting leg cramps due to dehydration, particularly when they excessively lose fluid through sweating. In most cases, leg cramping happens during hot weather. Getting leg cramps can also be an early indication or symptom of heat stroke.

     

    Since one of the most common causes of legs cramps is dehydration, make sure that you are drinking plenty of liquids every day. Keeping yourself hydrated at all times can effectively prevent painful leg cramps because fluids can maintain good cell hydration, which enables proper muscle contraction and relaxation.

     

    4. Replenish Lost Electrolytes

    Leg cramping can be triggered by an electrolyte imbalance. Aside from sickness and excessive sweating, another common cause of an electrolyte imbalance is consuming an unhealthy diet. Not consuming enough foods that contain the essential nutrients that our body need can cause leg cramps. Instead of eating highly processed foods, choose healthier alternatives, which are high in vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes.

     

    Eating foods that are high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium can help stop and prevent leg cramping. Other electrolytes that support fluid balance, muscle function, and nerve function in the body include sodium and chloride. Most electrolytes can be obtained from fruits and vegetables, including coconut water and bone broth.

     

    • Potassium: Fruits such as papayas, bananas, and dates, including green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and peas (1)
    • Magnesium: Whole grains, green leafy veggies, nuts, and seeds (2)
    • Calcium: Dairy, seafood, green leafy vegetables, and orange (3)
    • Sodium: Table salt, cheese, and pickled foods
    • Chloride: Table salt

     

    5. Wear Compression Socks or Sleeves

    One of the triggers of leg cramps is poor blood flow in the legs. Wearing compression socks or sleeves can definitely help prevent leg cramps and alleviate the pain associated with it because they can help enhance the distribution of blood to the calves and legs (4).

     

    Aside from improving leg discomfort, compression garments can help tired legs to recover faster with increased endurance. When there is an excessive level of lactic acid accumulated in the muscles during intense exercises, pain and tenderness develop afterward. Using graduated compression garments in your legs can boost your circulation and help prevent lactic acid build up in your leg muscles. Since wearing compression garments can help improve the flow of blood in your legs, you also tend to recover faster and feel better with lesser discomforts.

     

    To further prevent leg cramps and discomfort, don’t forget to wear your compression garment before exercising, running, and other strenuous physical activities. When worn during any of these activities, you’ll notice that your overall performance and endurance also tend to improve. Continue using compression garments until your leg pain and other discomforts are relieved.

     

    However, if you frequently get severe leg cramps that are not exercise-induced and if the above remedies and treatments do not work, it is highly recommended to see your healthcare provider for further evaluation. Severe leg cramps without an obvious cause may be due to serious underlying conditions, which include nerve damage, hormonal imbalance, poor nutrition, and circulation problem, including problems with medications.

     

    References

     

    1. Examples of foods that contain potassium, a. (2012). World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK132468/
    2. Office of Dietary Supplements - Magnesium. (2018). Ods.od.nih.gov. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/#h3
    3. A Guide to Calcium-Rich Foods - National Osteoporosis Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/a-guide-to-calcium-rich-foods/
    4. Jeanneret C, e. (2014). Impact of compression stockings on calf-vein diameters and on quality of life parameters in subjects with painful legs. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25007905

    How to Deal with Chronic Venous Insufficiency

    How to Deal with Chronic Venous Insufficiency

    Chronic venous insufficiency is a medical condition caused by weak valves in the leg veins. In this condition, these valves don’t properly function so blood won’t normally flow and return from the legs to the heart. In other words, blood tends to collect or “pool” in these leg veins and cause unpleasant symptoms in return.

    Chronic venous insufficiency is often related to other venous system disorders, such as varicose veins. There are also factors that can increase your risk of venous insufficiency. These risk factors include heredity, obesity, aging, a history of leg trauma or injury, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle (1, 2). As the condition progresses, symptoms such as leg pain, swelling, skin pigmentation, dermatitis, and ulceration also tend to get worse.

    Although chronic venous insufficiency can progress and become risky, it is not always as life-threatening as peripheral artery disease. Venous insufficiency can be disabling and painful, but there are things that we can do to help ease these symptoms.  

    How is venous insufficiency treated?

    If you are diagnosed with venous insufficiency, most treatment plans created by your healthcare provider are often based on the following factors:

     

    • Age
    • Health condition
    • Medical history
    • Specific signs and symptoms
    • Your response to certain medications or treatment methods

     

    The main goal of CVI treatment is to reduce the swelling in your legs and prevent the formation of leg ulcers. Depending on your overall health condition, your healthcare provider may recommend a combination or treatment or therapies, which include:

    1. Lifestyle Modification

    To help improve the flow of blood in your legs, most healthcare providers suggest certain changes in your lifestyle. If you heed your doctor’s advice, lifestyle changes can help prevent and reduce the symptoms of venous insufficiency, such as edema or swelling, leg pain, and cramping. If you have had surgery or invasive procedures due to venous insufficiency, lifestyle changes can significantly improve your recovery and prevent debilitating symptoms from recurring.

    2. Elevating Your Legs

    The risk of blood pooling in your leg veins increases if you sit or stand for a long period of time, whether you’re at work, driving long distances, or getting on long-haul flights. Simply elevating your legs can help improve the flow of blood in your legs and reduce swelling, including other symptoms of venous insufficiency. Avoid crossing your legs and try to move your ankles or legs from time to time to keep your circulation going. You can place your legs on a footstool to elevate your feet and legs.

    3. Keeping a Healthy Weight

    People who are obese have an increased risk of developing chronic venous insufficiency, which is why losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight can really help improve and prevent the recurrence of CVI symptoms. To help you maintain a normal body mass index, your healthcare provider may recommend a weight management program to help you adjust, cope, and develop healthy eating habits, including exercises to keep you active. Some of these exercises may include walking, jogging, or bicycling, which you can do several times per week.

    4. Wearing Compression Stockings

    Compression garments may not always be pleasant to wear, especially when the heat index goes up to 115 degrees outside. However, they really do help in supporting your veins and improving the blood flow from your legs up to your heart. Compression garments are made with an elastic fabric with different levels of graduation or pressure. They also come in different styles and lengths.

    When it comes to venous insufficiency, compression socks or stockings can be prescribed by your healthcare provider. The amount of pressure prescribed will also depend on the severity of your condition. Those who have developed ulceration in their legs may require compression bandages. Different studies have also confirmed the effectiveness of compression garments in improving the signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency (3, 4).

    5. Avoiding High Heels and Tight-Fitting Clothes

    Wearing ill-fitting clothes and high heels can hinder blood to properly flow in your legs, putting you more at risk of developing venous insufficiency. Choose lose-fitting clothes and wear low-heeled shoes instead to help your feet and legs feel more comfortable and at ease.

    6. Limiting Your Salt Intake

    Swelling in your legs tends to get worse if you regularly consume a diet that’s high in sodium or salt. Our bodies retain water and cause excessive fluid buildup in our legs if we consume a high sodium diet. This fluid buildup puts extra pressure on our leg veins, which weakens the walls of our veins. Constant pressure and weakening of vein walls eventually lead to venous insufficiency.

    7. Taking Medications

    Together with compression garments, certain medications, such as aspirin, may also be prescribed by your healthcare provider, particularly if you have developed leg ulcers. This treatment combination can help improve the flow of blood in your legs and ease most symptoms of venous insufficiency.

    Diuretics or medications that can help expel excess water in the body are also prescribed in certain cases, especially when other medical conditions, such as renal disease and heart disease are linked to swelling. When an infection is present, antibiotics may also be prescribed.

    Complications of chronic venous disease such as stasis dermatitis or skin irritation due to CVI can be relieved by using skin moisturizers. Although moisturizers do not treat CVI, they can definitely help keep your skin from cracking or drying. If you also have leg inflammation with itching, topical corticosteroids may also be prescribed.

    8. Medical Procedures

    Certain medical procedures can be suggested by your healthcare provider if the above remedies don’t work for you. These procedures can either be surgical or nonsurgical. However, surgery is only performed in patients with severe CVI. The type of surgery usually done is ligation or vein stripping, in which damaged veins are tied or removed through tiny incisions. Other minimally invasive procedures for venous insufficiency include sclerotherapy and laser ablation.

    Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a chemical into damaged veins and uses local anesthesia. The injected chemical causes scarring in your damaged leg veins and inhibits them from carrying blood. When this happens, blood can smoothly flow through other veins and return back to the heart. Laser ablation involves tube or catheter insertion into the damaged leg vein and closes it. When these damaged veins are closed, there will be a reduction in blood pooling in your leg resulting in improved blood flow.

    References

    1. MA, P. (2003). Chronic venous insufficiency: the genetic influence. - PubMed - NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12934752
    2. Criqui, M., Denenberg, J., Bergan, J., Langer, R., & Fronek, A. (2007). Risk factors for chronic venous disease: The San Diego Population Study. Journal Of Vascular Surgery, 46(2), 331-337. doi:10.1016/j.jvs.2007.03.052
    3. Owayed Al Shammeri, A. (2014). Chronic Venous Insufficiency: prevalence and effect of compression stockings. International Journal Of Health Sciences, 8(3), 231. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4257358/
    4. Ibegbuna V, e. (2003). Effect of elastic compression stockings on venous hemodynamics during walking. - PubMed - NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12563216
    5. Venous Insufficiency Treatment & Management: Approach Considerations, Graduated Compression and Other Physical Modalities, Venoablation. (2018). Emedicine.medscape.com. Retrieved from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1085412-treatment
    6. Chronic Venous Insufficiency – Vascular Cures. (n.d.). Vascularcures.org. Retrieved from https://vascularcures.org/chronic-venous-insufficiency/
    7. Chronic Venous Insufficiency | Society for Vascular Surgery. (n.d.). Vascular.org. Retrieved from https://vascular.org/patient-resources/vascular-conditions/chronic-venous-insufficiency

    What Are Shin Splints?

    What Are Shin Splints?

    Shin splints is a common lower leg injury, particularly in people who frequently run, including those with physically active lifestyles

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