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Putting The Pressure On

Wound Management Services Recommends Compression Therapy For Patients With Conditions That Contribute To Wounds

Normally, leg veins work against gravity to pump blood "uphill" and back to the heart. But when the valves in veins are damaged or weak, blood can pool in the lower extremities (legs and feet). Venous insufficiency, where veins have problems sending blood from the legs back to the heart, is the most common cause of edema, which is swelling due to excess fluid accumulation in the body's tissues.

These issues interfere with the healing process. A combination of impaired blood flow and increased bacterial colonization due to the buildup of fluids contributes to chronic, nonhealing wounds.

Wound Management Services (WMS) at Sturdy Memorial Hospital manages not only the care and treatment of wounds, but also helps patients with conditions contributing to wounds such as lower extremity edema, in cooperation with their primary care physicians. The most effective treatment for lower extremity edema is compression therapy and elevation, which help with associated healing complications.

"With compression therapy, special elastic garments such as stockings are placed on the legs, supporting veins and increasing circulation," says Gary Cummins, MD, a Wound Management Services physician. "Graduated compression stockings are tighter around the ankle and decrease in pressure up the leg, improving the venous return and overall circulation." Also, simple elevation of the feet to heart level three or four times daily, 30 minutes each time, reduces edema and increases blood flow. "These tactics treat swelling and venous insufficiency, ultimately helping to both prevent and heal wounds such as venous ulcers."

Graduated compression stockings are prescribed by physicians and individualized to each patient. The grade or tightness of the compression as well as length and type of stocking are specified on the prescription according to patients' body types, conditions, and type and extent of wounds. Stockings should be put on in the morning when swelling is minimal and after wounds, if any are present, are dressed. They should be removed before bedtime.

Trained specialists at Wound Management Services develop individualized treatment protocols and use the latest technology to heal wounds that have not responded to conventional treatment. Specialists, who are trained specifically to heal wounds that are the result of patients' chronic conditions or illnesses, educate patients to take active roles in the healing process by learning to care for their wounds at home. To learn more about compression therapy as well as WMS at Sturdy Memorial Hospital and the conditions treated, call 508-236-7600 or click here.