Post-Thrombotic Syndrome & Reducing the Swelling

 

For people who suffer from post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS), it can be difficult to find comfort. The syndrome has no cure, and problems that arise from the condition can have a considerable impact on your quality of life. 

Luckily, knee-high compression socks work to soothe many of the symptoms of severe PTS, including swelling, aching, and venous ulcers. 

At Comrad, we design socks that deliver True Graduated Compression with more pressure at the ankles and less at the calves. By improving the blood circulation in your legs, our socks leave your lower limbs feeling light and energized. Plus, we manufacture all of our designs in extra-wide sizes, so they're a perfect fit for PTS patients who struggle with lower leg edema.

If you're hoping to treat the symptoms of post-thrombotic syndrome or venous hypertension, compression socks can bring you fast relief and proven medical benefits. 

How Does Post-Thrombotic Syndrome Begin? 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 900,000 people in America are affected by deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE) each year. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) happens when a blood clot (thrombus) develops in the deep vein—most often in the deep vein of the leg—and causes a venous obstruction. 

In some cases, the thrombus breaks off from its initial location and travels through the bloodstream. The resulting blockage can be deadly when a clot interferes with blood flow to the lung.

A thrombus that remains in the deep vein can also cause permanent damage to surrounding vascular structures. Even after a clot is treated with clot busters, anticoagulants, or other medical interventions, the residual thrombus still can injure the vein and contribute to circulation problems. 

For example, a clot may damage the functioning of venous valves, causing blood to flow backward through the vein (venous reflux). The constant pressure on the vein (venous hypertension) further damages the vein walls and valves, leading to chronic venous disorder.

Post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS), also called a postphlebitic syndrome, post-thrombotic syndrome, impacts 30 to 50 percent of patients with DVT. People with PTS may experience chronic leg pain, cramps, heaviness, pins and needles, itching, swelling, skin changes, varicose veins, and skin ulcers. 

In addition to these uncomfortable symptoms, PTS patients commonly suffer from recurrent DVT. This can cause a vicious cycle, where an additional deep venous thrombosis event increases the risk of further damage. 

How Does Compression Help? 

Compression socks contribute to both the prevention and the treatment of venous disorders, including post-thrombotic syndrome. As a compression sock gently squeezes your leg, it supports the vascular structures, like vessel valves and walls, that keep blood flowing in one direction and stop blood from pooling. Graduated compression, in particular, exerts upward pressure from your ankles to your calves. The extra support improves the velocity of blood flow through your veins and encourages faster circulation. 

In turn, healthy circulation lowers your risk of developing DVT. By contrast, poor circulation and vein damage contribute to unhealthy stagnation and blood clotting. Because compression therapy improves overall vascular health, studies suggest reducing the risk of DVT for some at-risk populations. 

For pregnant women, airline passengers, and post-surgical patients, doctors often recommend compression socks or stockings as a way to prevent DVT and edema. Without any initial thrombus, complications such as PE and PTS do not have the opportunity to develop. 

After a thrombus forms in the deep vein, wearing graduated compression socks may lower the risk of PTS. Patients with PTS normally develop symptoms within 1 to 2 years of asymptomatic DVT. One study of 180 patients with proximal DVT showed that the use of elastic compression stockings during this period reduced the rate of PTS by 50 percent. 

Research also shows that compression socks give patients a way to relieve the painful symptoms of acute DVT and established PTS. For this reason, compression socks and stockings are considered a cornerstone in the treatment of established PTS. In particular, studies suggest that wearing graduated compression socks can be an effective way to heal venous ulcers and stop their recurrence

Since venous ulcers can easily become infected without proper wound care, avoiding ulcers also eliminates the risk of dangerous complications, including gangrene, cellulitis, and osteomyelitis.

How Is PTS Diagnosed? 

No diagnostic test exists to determine whether a patient has PTS. Instead, a physician must examine a patient's vein function and evaluate their self-reported symptoms as part of a diagnostic assessment. Researchers and doctors use the Villalta Scale as a way to assess the clinical manifestations of PTS. 

Each self-reported symptom and physical sign gets assigned a point value based on presence, duration, and severity. To complete the assessment, the physician adds the points together for a total score. 

Patients with more than four points receive a diagnosis of PTS. If a patient displays an active venous ulcer or receives more than 15 points on the Villalta Scale, they are diagnosed with severe PTS. Aside from a history of DVT, risk factors for PTS include older age, obesity, history of varicose veins, and female sex. 

Other Treatment Strategies 

Most physicians emphasize the importance of prevention for PTS. That's because there's no treatment that will completely eliminate PTS symptoms. Instead, patients must manage the symptoms of PTS to the best of their ability. 

In addition to compression socks and stockings, some doctors recommend intermittent pneumatic compression devices and leg elevation to reduce swelling. Unfortunately, both of these strategies limit a patient's mobility. On the other hand, compression socks can be worn while you maintain an active lifestyle. 

Acute DVT can be treated with thrombolysis, a procedure designed to destroy blood clots with a clot-busting chemical or mechanical thrombectomy. While this may help to prevent the onset of post-thrombotic syndrome, it can't prevent another DVT or treat established PTS. 

Which Socks Work Best for PTS? 

If you're shopping for socks to help manage the swelling caused by PTS, you should be sure to choose a knee-length style. You only get the medical benefits of True Graduated Compression from a sock with full calf coverage. Don't forget that we have wide calf sizes available, as well, to help accommodate severe edema in the lower legs. 

To treat and prevent venous ulcers from PTS, look for a sock with anti-microbial properties. Our best-selling Companions are made with SmartSilver technology, a proprietary anti-microbial that outperforms copper in eliminating odor-causing microbes. With SmartSilver, we harness the natural properties of silver ions, bonding them to the thread to create an inhospitable environment for bacteria. 

Since venous ulcers are prone to infections, it's important to do everything you can to keep your feet fresh and clean when you have PTS. 

Lastly, be sure to choose socks that you're excited to wear every day. Compression socks offer more preventative health benefits when you wear them regularly. Browse our new arrivals to find socks guaranteed to make you smile. 

They’re not just fashionable; they’re designed to help prevent DVT, PTS, and other painful venous disorders. 

Sources: 

Below-knee Elastic Compression Stockings to Prevent the Post-thrombotic Syndrome: A Randomized, Controlled Trial | Annals of Internal Medicine

Compression Stockings for the Prevention of Venous Leg Ulcer Recurrence: A Health Technology Assessment | Ontario Health Technology Assessment Series

Data and Statistics on Venous Thromboembolism | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Deep vein thrombosis | Mayo Clinic

DVT and venous insufficiency | Vascular Society

Effects of graduated compression stockings with different pressure profiles on lower-limb venous structures and hemodynamics| Advances in Therapy

Graduated Compression Stockings for Prevention of Deep Vein Thrombosis | Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Information for people at risk of post-thrombotic syndrome | National Health Service

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