Medical researchers and doctors are growing increasingly aware of the benefits of compression pump therapy. As a result, this treatment option is seeing more use for sufferers of various conditions. There is a multitude of benefits that many patients are starting to enjoy because of this.
Compression Pumps Go by Many Names
Compression pumps go by many different names. They include:
- Pneumatic compression pumps
- Edema pumps
- Compression machine for lymphedema
- Leg compression machine for lymphedema
- Lymphedema compression pump
- Lymphedema pump
- Lymphedema pumps pneumatic compression devices
- Pneumatic compression device for lymphedema
What Conditions Do Compression Pumps Treat?
Compression pumps for arms and legs are designed to treat:
- Chronic venous insufficiency in your extremities
- Related conditions
What Is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is tissue swelling that happens when protein-rich fluid accumulates in an area of the body. Normally, the human body’s lymphatic system drains it out.
Common places for this to happen include the extremities, neck, abdomen, chest wall, and genitals. The lower legs are very common places given their relative distance from the heart.
Lymph nodes are crucial to the human lymphatic system, and lymphedema can happen due to cancer treatments that damage or remove lymph nodes. However, any issue that prevents lymphatic fluid from being drained will potentially result in lymphedema.
Serious cases of lymphedema might result in restricted movement and higher risk of sepsis and skin infections. Potential treatments include massage, compression stockings, and compression bandages, all of which served as various inspirations for compression machine therapy.
How Compression Pump Therapy Works
For lymphedema, the gold standard of treatment is a combination of:
- Manual lymphatic drainage
- Manual lymphatic drainage, or MLD, is done in a medical setting by a specially trained therapist.
- Compression pump therapy
- Compression pump therapy can happen in residential settings. Patients can do this at home as an extension of their primary care.
These machines involve putting your arm or leg into a sleeve designed for that extremity. A pneumatic compression pump applies pressure all over that limb which starts squeezing lymphatic fluid out and back into the rest of the body.
Benefits of Compression Pump Therapy
Pneumatic machine therapy for lymphedema and related conditions can result in many different potential benefits:
- Stimulation of Fluid and Blood Movement: Lymphedema and edema both happen because fluids that are normally constantly in movement wind up getting stuck and accumulating in one area of the body. Even gentle compression over a consistent area is enough to get fluids moving again. They’ll naturally gravitate towards parts of the body that have less pressure as the body seeks to balance itself. So long as the compression is active, new fluids won’t come back into the compressed area at the same volume.
- Prevention of Numbness: Swelling doesn’t just put pressure on the skin towards the exterior but also on interior nerves. Feeling starts to subside, and after enough time total numbness is possible. This is such a gradual process that it can be a great risk for many patients who might not realize it is even happening in the first place. If this happens, cuts, bruises, and scrapes might go unnoticed and be potential sources of infection to take hold. Restoring full skin sensitivity in these areas is crucial to maintaining overall physical health.
- Easy to Use: Even if patients could learn the techniques that MDL professionals use in managing their condition, it’s highly unlikely that they could apply them to themselves successfully. Compression pumps are simple to use because it’s no more complicated than putting on pants or a shirt. Then, you just sit or lay there while it does its work.
- Relaxation: The conditions that require compression pump therapy tend to be very stressful to the people diagnosed with them. Compression therapy is a lot like a machine massage to particular parts of the body. While the direct intention is moving fluids in accumulated areas, there are also noticeable reductions in tension and stress within patients. That makes them better able to deal with the stresses and anxieties of everything that they are dealing with.
- Potential for Reimbursement: Since compression pumps are now considered the gold standard treatment for lymphedema, these machines are rarely something patients must pay for in full if at all. Reimbursement through insurance coverage and government programs makes them very affordable to the people that need them.
- Mild Side Effects: These machines are not entirely without side effects. However, the only usual side effect is minor skin irritation due to the pressure being applied. Dry skin and redness might happen for a while after a session of therapy. However, these consequences usually fade on their own quickly.
- Non-Invasive in Nature: Some lymphedema treatments involve surgical approaches that remove swollen tissues or even attempt to create new drainage pathways. Compression pump therapy can prevent many patients from being cut open in the first place.
- Consistent Treatment Solutions: Since these are machines with programmed settings, consistent use can mean consistent results over time. Manual work from MDL therapists always helps, but the consistency of such treatments might vary based on each day what MDL a patient works with in any given appointment.
- Pain Relief: Swollen tissue can be very painful, even if nerves are being suppressed. In fact, that can sometimes cause pain as the human body signals that something is wrong. Swelling itself can make a limb be a different shape or size than is normal, so restoring equilibrium with the internal fluids can minimize the pain that might be associated with this.
The Numbers Are In
A five year study conducted by a trio of reputable universities followed over 700 lymphedema patients for five years and determined the following benefits of compression therapy:
- 75-percent reduction in cellulitis episodes among non-cancer patients
- 79-percent reduction of cellulitis episodes in actual cancer patients
- 54-percent less inpatient hospitalizations among non-cancer patients
- 36-percent reduction in health costs related to lymphedema for all patients
- 29-percent reduction in outpatient hospital visits for cancer patients
- 40-percent reduction of outpatient visits for non-cancer patients
- 30-percent or better reduction in number of physical therapy visits for all patients
Do compression therapy pumps benefit their users? If they have been diagnosed with a related condition and prescribed the right machine, then the pumps can certainly offer them a way to minimize their symptoms and possibly even avoid surgical situations.