Introduction Lower leg swelling is considered to be a risk factor of venous disorders among workers exposed to prolonged standing. Compression stockings might be effective in reducing lower leg swelling; however, little is known about the effect of different compression intensities. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of two different compression intensities throughout a 2 hour standing exposure on lower leg swelling, complaints, and wearing comfort.
Methods 40 healthy subjects participated in this randomised cross-over experiment with three 2 hour standing exposures that were tested on separate days. In condition A, subjects did not wear compression stockings; in condition B and C, subjects wore compression stockings medical class I (18–21 mmHg) and class II (23–32 mmHg), respectively. Lower leg swelling was quantified by measures of lower leg volume (water plethysmography) and bioelectrical impedance before and after each standing exposure. Level of discomfort was assessed every 30 min (11-point Likert-Scale) and wearing comfort was measured at the end of the exposure using a custom-made standardised questionnaire. The study was approved by the ethics committee of the University of Tuebingen.
Result Preliminary results (n=19) indicated that wearing compression stockings reduced lower leg swelling compared to wearing no stockings, but there was no difference in leg swelling between the two compression classes. Levels of discomfort were rather low and did not significantly differ across conditions. Higher levels of wearing comfort were found for the class I compared to the class II stockings.
Discussion These preliminary results suggest that in healthy subjects the lower compression intensity might be as effective as the higher intensity in reducing lower leg swelling. This is an important finding since compliance of wearing compression stockings increases with lower compression intensities, which is supported by the increased wearing comfort for the lower compression class in this study.
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