Healthy Living

. Importance of Compression Stockings

The calf muscles play an integral role in blood circulation.  Via voluntary contraction, they help return blood from the legs back to the heart.  Particularly in situations of prolonged standing, sitting, or bed rest, the calf muscles remain in a relaxed state and would not be able to efficiently pump blood back to the heart.  The blood would consequently accumulate and distend the veins.  Individuals are said to have developed varicose veins when the superficial veins of the calf muscles have undergone significant swelling and deformation.  At this point in time, the blood would be relatively stagnant within the venous walls, promoting the formation of blood clots (i.e. thrombi).  The blood clots may break away (i.e. emboli) and travel to other body parts.  An embolus may occlude a blood vessel completely, leading to dire health consequences.  Thus, it is very important for medical practitioners and the general public to recognize the predisposing factors and halt the series of events that lead to the development of varicose veins.

All in all, individuals who must endure prolonged periods of sitting or standing should wear compression stockings.  Pregnant women would also benefit from wearing compression stockings, consequent of increases in blood volume and hormonal changes during pregnancy, weakening the venous walls.  Compression stockings come in varying degrees of tightness.  Stockings with a pressure of 15-20mg Hg are usually suffice for individuals seeking preventative measures against varicose veins.  Stockings of greater pressures, ranging from 20-60mm Hg, are reserved for more severe conditions and are available only by prescriptions.  Of note, persons restricted to bed rest would benefit from a particular type of anti-embolism stockings, commonly referred to as TED stockings.  TED stockings provide an approximate compression of 18mm Hg and are designed specifically for bedridden individuals.

. Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist, Knee, & Ankle Support

Whether you require a brace for the shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee or ankle, it is best to consult your physician or physiotherapist in determining the type of brace most suitable for your injury.  Below are general descriptions of some of the different braces available on the current market.

Various types of shoulder braces are available for purchase.  Examination of the brace material would typically give a good indication of the degree of support it provides.  Shoulder braces of flexible material typically provide low levels of support.  They are designed to be worn on a daily basis in holding the shoulder and the collarbone in their proper anatomical positions.  They are to promote rehabilitation but not to restrict movement.  Shoulder braces of greater support are less elastic.  Immobilizing shoulder braces provides the greatest degree of support and are used only to promote recovery from surgeries or severe injuries.

Elbow supports are to protect the elbow joint as it heals, while permitting normal joint movements.  They serve to reduce pain and inflammation of the following ailments:

  • Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) affecting the outer part of the elbow
  • Golfer's Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis) affecting the inner part of the elbow
  • Arthritis affecting the elbow joint
  • Sprains (ligament injury) of the elbow joint
  • Strains (muscle or tendon injury) of the elbow joint
  • Elbow joint bursitis (inflammation of the sacs containing synovial fluid)
  • Olecranon (elbow joint) bone fracture

The supports are available in the form of braces, sleeves, or bands.  An elbow brace attaches to the arm above and below the elbow joint.  Similarly, an elbow sleeve covers the arm above and below the elbow joint.  Elbow bands are worn on the forearm to provide pressure along the tendons.  The pressure ensures the tendons are held parallel, promoting a faster recovery.

The carpel tunnel syndrome is perhaps the most common wrist joint problem plaguing the general population.  Repetitive stress leads to compression of one of the nerves travelling along the wrist joint, resulting in pain, numbness, and tingling sensation.  By covering the wrist and the forearm with rigid material, wrist supports help to stabilize the wrist joint and inhibit any further adverse movements.

Knee supports are specific for the type of knee injury involved.  Knee supports of elastic material are typically used to prevent injuries or to manage minor knee irritations.  For occasional use, these knee supports may cover the kneecap (i.e. patella).  For everyday use or for more serious conditions, ensure to obtain open patella knee supports.  These supports avoid constant pressure on the patella that may potentially lead to further degeneration of the knee joint.  Some of them are made of neoprene, a type of a durable plastic ideal for retaining body warmth and promoting blood circulation at the knee joint.  Providing the most support, hinged knee braces are designed for knee instabilities associated with ligament damage.

Ankle sprains may be a common occurrence for certain individuals, when the ligament of the ankle joint is torn or stretched.  Similar to knee supports, elastic, neoprene, and hinged ankle supports are available for purchase.  Stirrup and magnetic ankle braces may also be used to keep the ankle anatomically correct and to reduce pain and swelling, respectively.

. Thermoflow Products

An array of Thermoflow products are available at Royal City Drugs.  These products are unique from the supports discussed at an earlier occasion.  With the ceramic fibres contained therein, Thermoflow products absorb ambient far infrared rays and radiate the energy back to the body's tissue.  The energy encourages better blood circulation.

. Abdominal Binders

Abdominal binders are tight-fitting body garments of the abdomen and upper hips.  They may be recommended for a variety of medical reasons.  The garments compress the abdomen and the lower back, in helping to reduce pain and provide support for individuals suffering from lower back injuries.  It may also be beneficial to wear the binders following medical procedures as liposuction, Cesarean section, or natural childbirth, as the binders offer additional support for the abdominal organs and the back muscles.

. Hip Protectors

Hip protectors are available as belts to be worn on top of clothing or as underwear with sewn-in or removable pads.  Regardless of the type, the padding of the hip protectors are located to cover the bony extrusions of the pelvic bone.  The padding helps to prevent hip fractures following falls by absorbing the impact or by redistributing it to the surrounding tissues.  Compliance in wearing hip protectors is typically low because of the unappealing appearance and the discomfort in wearing them.