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Leg Health Information

Adults of All Ages Are At RiskTired, Aching Legs? Swollen Ankles? Varicose Veins?
Are You at Risk For Serious Leg Issues?

Leg problems are widespread throughout the world, but what most people don't know is that approximately 90% of leg disorders originate within the veins. If you have tired, aching, swollen legs, or if you see the beginning of varicose veins, this page will help you learn how to improve the health of your venous circulation. Vein problems can progressively worsen over time and can affect your health for the rest of your life.

Much can be done to decrease the risk of developing venous disorders. We believe that understanding the cause of venous disease is an important first step.

Are you at risk? Please read on...

Causes and Risk Factors

  • Long distance travel
  • Heredity or Age over 40
  • Prolonged sitting or standing
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity or Sedentary lifestyle
  • Surgery or trauma
  • Infectious disease

Danger signals. In most cases, leg problems do not just occur 'out of the blue.'
There are typical warning signs such as:

  • Heavy, hot, or tired legs
  • A feeling of tension, cramps, fatigue or stabbing in calves
  • Swollen ankles
  • First signs of small varicose veins

The Circulatory System

The heart is the main pump of the circulatory system. It is the muscle that pumps oxygen-rich blood through the arteries and into tiny capillaries where body cells exchange the oxygen for carbon dioxide. The blood then enters the veins, which carry the blood back to the heart.

Arterial: Blood flows from heart. Rich with oxygen and nutrients

Venous: Blood returns to heart. Contains waste and metabolic residue

Venous Return

The body has a number of ways to help blood return to the heart. Just as the arterial system uses the power of the heart to drive fresh blood into the tissues, the calf muscle acts as a 'second heart' by contracting and relaxing as a person walks.

One-way valves in the superficial and deep veins help blood to flow back to the heart. The deep system handles up to 90% of the venous blood volume and is the high pressure system of the venous circulation in the legs. The superficial system handles the other 10% and is the low pressure system. When calf muscles relax, the valves close to prevent blood from flowing backwards into the lower part of the vein. These valves are fragile and can be easily damaged.

Other 'pumps' help push blood toward the heart, such as the ankle, the foot, and the diaphragm.

Second HeartVenous Problems in the Legs

Venous insufficiency is a condition in which the valves of the veins fail to function. This interferes with venous return to the heart and causes blood to pool in the vein. Factors leading to venous insufficiency include venous stasis, changes or damage to the vein wall or valve.

Venous insufficiency can lead to varicose veins, phlebitis, thrombophlebitis, blood clots, and changes in the skin, including leg ulcers.

Descriptions of Venous Problems

Varicose veins are visibly enlarged veins that are often bluish in color and may appear twisted. They are caused by the pooling of blood in a damaged vein and can sometimes be painful. In the early stages of varicose veins, the legs may feel tired, heavy, achy, or tense.

Phlebitis is the inflammation of a vein wall, and is the most common problem associated with varicose veins. Symptoms can include swelling, redness, warmth, or pain in the affected area.

Superficial Thrombophlebitis is the inflammation of a vein caused by a blood clot. Symptoms are similar to phlebitis.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

A Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in one of the deep veins. About 25% of DVTs move away from the deep veins and travel through the bloodstream into the lungs. This is known as a pulmonary embolism, and can have lifethreatening consequences. Symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness in one leg
  • Swelling in one leg
  • Increased warmth and redness in one leg
  • Shortness of breath and fainting
  • Pain in the chest

DVTs can occur with no symptoms.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a collective term used to describe a long-standing condition involving impaired venous return in varying degrees of severity. Symptoms include:

  • Edema (swelling)
  • Feeling of heaviness in the legs
  • Pain or cramps in the calves
  • Skin discolorations
  • Dermatitis (skin problems)
  • Dry or weeping eczema
  • Venous leg ulcer

A Venous Leg Ulcer is an open wound that usually forms near the ankle and is due to chronic poor circulation. The ulcer has a weeping, raw appearance and the skin surrounding the ulcer is dry, itchy, and reddish-brownish in
color. Venous leg ulcers are usually slow to heal.

Why Compression Works

Compression therapy is the application of external pressure to the limb to reduce venous pressure within the limb. This means wearing socks or stockings that are specially designed to support your veins and increase circulation. To be most effective, the socks or stockings should be put on at the start of your day and removed before you go to bed.

Remember that the heart attempts to pump blood against gravity up the veins of the legs. As a person walks, the regular contraction and relaxation of the calf muscles around the veins are necessary to help move blood towards the heart.

Some people have an inherited weakness of the vein walls or valves which create additional challenges to venous circulation. Wearing compression socks or stockings is vital for the prevention and treatment of varicose veins and other circulatory problems, especially for individuals who are at risk.

How Compression Works

Why is compression graduated.

The graduated or gradient compression as it is known works so that the pressure is greatest at the ankle, and decreases gradually up the leg and body. This pressure is needed to counter the effects of the pressure in the vein. This pressure is measured in mmHg. The complete undestanding of how compression works remains unknown, however noone can deny the benefits.

Your Doctor or Therapist Can Help

Effective methods for the treatment of venous disorders are readily available. Your physician can provide a diagnosis to correctly assess the course and severity of your condition, and to take appropriate therapeutic measures.

When Does a Physician Prescribe Compression Stockings?

A physician or therapist prescribes compression medical socks or stockings for any active vein disorder of the leg, or as a preventative measure in cases when risk factors are present. They are also prescribed after surgery for patients who are not confined to bed.

Filling your prescription is easy. Just select from one our brands (Jobst, Sigvaris, Mediven, Juzo, Activa), select the proper compression level:

Available in these compression levels:

  • 8-15 mmHg (Light or Mild)
  • 15-20 mmHg (Moderate)
  • 20-30 mmHg (Firm)
  • 30-40 mmhg (Extra-Firm)

Learn More About Compression Levels

TIP: We can help you take your measurements and recommend the correct stockings for you based on your physician's advice. Please do not hesitate to contact us by phone, live chat or email if you need help.

Compression SocksBenefits of Medical Compression Stockings

People around the world are feeling better while wearing graduated compression stockings and socks, especially those who spend too much time in sedentary sitting or standing positions. Getting the benefits of gradient compression are as easy as wearing compression support stockings or socks.

Graduated support stockings remain the standard in the management of chronic venous disease. Graduated compression delivers a squeezing to the leg that is tightest at the ankle. The amount of squeezing or compression gradually decreases up the leg. While the exact mechanism of action of compression remains elusive, compression is believed to provide two primary benefits to individuals suffering from chronic venous insufficiency.

Perhaps the most important effect is that compression is believed to increase the pressure in the tissues beneath the skin thus reducing excess leakage of fluid from the capillaries and increasing absorption of tissue fluid by the capillaries and lymphatic vessels. Compression therefore reduces and helps prevent swelling.

Secondly, compression reduces the ability of the superficial veins in the leg to expand and overfill with blood, which in turn helps prevent blood in these veins from flowing backward, causing congestion. Congestion in the leg accounts for leg complaints, swelling and skin changes common in persons with venous problems.

What Compression Level Is Right For Me?

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