Your Healthy Family

Jul 25, 2012 9:27 AM by Jennifer Horbelt

Benefits of compression therapy

PUEBLO, CO- They look like socks, but they're a whole lot more. You may even see some of the athletes wearing them at the 2012 London Olympics.

Compression stockings, or sleeves, not only help your muscles recover quickly after working out, they can also help with more serious conditions like poor circulation and vein disease. One local man says they helped him climb Pikes Peak.

"I've done everything from hike, bike, referee soccer," Patrick Swank of Pueblo said.

From working in the yard, to snow boarding with his sons, it's fair to call Swank an active guy. A few years ago, though, he began to notice pain in his legs.

"That was highly unusual for me," Swank said. "As it progressed, I started to have more and more trouble."

He turned to compression sleeves. Dr. Gordon Gibbs with Rocky Mountain Vein Institute says the sleeves help with blood circulation.

"They'll squeeze the blood that's out towards the skin and divert that into different vessels which are deeper down inside the muscle," Dr. Gibbs said, adding that the blood is then able to get to vital organs like the blood, lungs, and kidneys.

They helped Swank initially. He even climbed Pikes Peak wearing the sleeves, but the pain persisted. Dr. Gibbs diagnosed swank with symptomatic venous reflux disease.

"Occurs when the one way valve on the inside of the vessels dysfunction, and they become leaky," Dr. Gibbs said.

Pain and swelling is a symptom, but more serious problems can develop if not treated.

"If the blood is flowing slowly through a vessel, if there's reflux and the blood just can't efficiently flow through that vessel, then the blood is at risk of clotting," Dr. Gibbs said.

Swank went through three minor surgical procedures, which he says helped significantly.

Still, Dr. Gibbs says many patients continue to wear the sleeves even after surgery.

"It helps their legs feel better at the end of the day, it helps them have a little bit more spring in their step. Their legs don't feel quite so heavy," Dr. Gibbs explained.

Swank plans to continue wearing his, because he says they're comfortable and give him peace of mind.

"That compression just makes it feel so much better," Swank said. "I'm active, I wanna' enjoy life. I don't want any blood clots to slow me down."

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