We are going to explain in a simple way the basic concepts behind the world of pressotherapy, who can benefit greatly from it, how it can even be done at home and that it is not just for the treatment of cellulite.
You will discover that our devices are easy to use, very affordable, and can help your friends and loved ones with venous insufficiency and lymphatic problems by preventing such problems and keeping them from getting worse.
This is going to be a long post, but if you have the patience to read it all, I can guarantee that you and your loved ones will benefit.
What is pressotherapy?
Pressotherapy is a therapeutic technique that has been around for many years, despite the lack of documented reliable research that exists on (for example) PEMF therapy. It is not only effective for the treatment of skin imperfections, as is wrongly believed. Today, physicians see it as extremely important in the treatment and maintenance of certain conditions affecting the venous and lymphatic systems.
It is a therapeutic method used in medicine to apply compression to the lower and upper extremities, similar to the movements of a massage. This is done using a device that inflates cuffs that are wrapped around the parts of the body to be treated at intervals and successively.
All this is done according to specific rules related to the study of the pathophysiology of the body and the main laws of physics.
The main benefits, which we will see in more detail later, are the reduction of the stagnation of venous and lymphatic flow in the treated part. This reduces, for example, the swelling caused by edema. Other important advantages are the vasodilatory and anti-thrombotic effects.
Therefore, in this post we are not going to talk about fighting cellulite or orange peel skin. Instead, we will try to see how pressotherapy can help those who are currently struggling to live a normal life. The conditions we are about to talk about cause severe pain and enormous difficulties in stepping or moving around, not to mention the embarrassment caused by the aesthetic problems (e.g., edema) in the evening.
The purpose of this therapy
It is intended to relieve the problems of swollen and painful legs, edema, varicose veins, ulcers, etc. caused by problems of venous insufficiency. It is also used for conditions affecting the lymphatic system, called lymphostasis, of which lymphedema is one of the best known.
This condition, for example, causes the accumulation of fluids and proteins in the interstitial spaces of the tissues, leading to swelling and deformation of the legs that take on an unattractive columnar appearance, causing great discomfort to the sufferer.
The purpose of pressotherapy is to promote the transport of fluids in the body, normalize venous circulation, eliminate lymphatic stagnation and thus prevent related disorders.
In practice, pressotherapy replaces or supports the natural movement of flows related to venous or lymphatic problems, or both simultaneously.
Since the aforementioned currents move through the lymphatic vessels and veins, following a path from the periphery of the limb to the heart, the proper cycle of action is therefore that of DISTAL-PROXIMAL, that is, from the periphery of the body to the center of the body.
Therefore, of all the pressotherapy methods, the sequential method is the most appropriate, in which the chambers of the device are inflated and deflated from the periphery of the affected limb to the core.
This action simulates a circulatory massage and allows stagnant fluids in the limb to drain.
What exactly does it do?
Special units are used (leg caps, arm sleeves, abdominal belts, etc.) that contain pneumo-compression chambers that are inflated generating a controlled compression on the affected body parts (limbs and abdomen). The various parameters are set and activated by the electronic-mechanical-pneumatic device that delivers the air flow at the appropriate pressure, inflating and deflating the various chambers at intervals and sequentially.
Main therapeutic indications
Below is a fairly structured list of the diseases and conditions associated with this therapeutic area.
- Drainage of the arm after mastectomy
- Restoration of muscle tone in immobilized or disabled patients (instead of massage)
- Treatment of hematomas after surgery
- Paralysis of limbs
- Postflebitic syndrome
- Venous insufficiency
- Post thrombotic syndrome
- Venous stasis
- Anti-cellulite treatment in the early stages
- Heavy legs
- Passive compression in venous disorders
- Postoperative prophylaxis in venous thrombosis surgery
- Widespread chronic venous edema
- DVT prevention
- Bedridden Patients
If you or your loved ones have similar problems with one or more of these conditions, I encourage you to continue reading this post. It will undoubtedly be useful for future reference.
The following is a list of conditions and diseases for which pressotherapy is best avoided:
- Acute venous inflammation
- DVT – Deep vein thrombosis
- Malignant neoplasms
- Acute skin inflammation
- Occlusions of arteries
Without going too deep into the science behind it, it is important to remember that correct use of pressotherapy with professional medical equipment leads to several benefits. These have been scientifically proven over the years.
Some of the most important include:
On a biochemical level, endothelial cells release substances that promote antithrombotic, vasodilatory and pro-fibrinolytic effects in the treated area.
The movement of fluids increases the rate of blood flow (venous and lymphatic) and reduces stagnation and retention processes.
The increased interstitial pressure reduces the lymphatic load, lymphatic flow increases, visibly reducing edema.
Still on the subject of therapeutic benefits, I will speak to you briefly about a clinical study that has been published and conducted. It clearly demonstrates the incredible results that can be achieved with in-home pressotherapy.
Published in 2018, this is the world’s first study on the use of home-based pressotherapy in hypomobile patients with disabling edema, conducted by the Unità di Medicina Traslazionale dell’Ospedale Universitario di Ferrara.
The patients suffered from hypomobility due to:
- Neurological disease (multiple sclerosis)
- Severe obesity
- Severe osteoarthritis.
The study, conducted on 50 patients, for 30 days, showed:
- Girth reduction at the six points of detection
- Reduction of the band/skin thickness
- Reduction in lower limb volume (edema not displaced!)
- Improved ROM of the joint at the ankle
- Improved quality of life for all patients who did the home cycle. Specifically, patients noted improved physical function, general health, and mental health.
- Reduction in the presence of pro-inflammatory cytokines (substances produced in an inflammatory state). This can be considered a marker, i.e., an indicator of predisposition to the disease or condition
Proper operating pressure
This is still a heavy debated topic, but in general, in addition to following our doctor’s advice, it is good practice to set the working pressure between a quarter and half of the maximum output. This is to prevent damage to the lymphatic system, veins or capillaries.
Duration of the treatments
Treatments range from 30 minutes to usually no more than two hours. The total number of sessions can vary significantly depending on the type and severity of the condition. To give you an example, in certain cases of lymphedema, treatment takes a minimum of 5 hours to over 15 hours per course.
However, the daily frequency of sessions is crucial for achieving effective fluid removal results, and should also be supported by other medical devices, such as the use of elastic compression stockings, bandages and pharmacological therapy.
Pressotherapy for home
Now we are going to make some specific considerations about the main aspects and the benefits you can achieve by doing pressotherapy at home. Together, we will look at the features that a home device must have in order to be used by “normal” people (not health professionals).
I think there are three main factors to consider:
- The reliability of the device
- Ease of use
On the first point, I think it’s easy to guess what I mean. It is necessary to use reliable and safe medical devices. To make sure you have made the right choice, you should check for the CE or Medical CE. In addition, it is better to know the manufacturer and be sure that the pre- and after-sales support is reliable and of a high level.
For point 2, you just need to think about who usually undergoes pressotherapy. The people who often deal with the various diseases and conditions in question are people of a certain age who have little or no confidence in technology or experience with medical devices.
Fortunately, there are home therapy devices on the market that do everything automatically. All the patient or the helping family member has to do is set the treatment time and the desired pressure level, which, as mentioned, should be well below the maximum allowed value.
Once the parameters are set, the device does the rest.
Given the above, practically anyone can use it.
Now more than ever, point 3 seems to be the most delicate to address.
Let me tell you something, there are very professional devices for pressotherapy that cost much, much less than half the devices currently on the market.
I know what you are asking, “Yes, but how much exactly, is it much less than half?”
A good device that covers all the points I mentioned above starts from just over 300€. I know, not exactly peanuts, but it costs much less than models of the past. And, above all, it’s quickly recouped when you think about the average session cost at a specialized center.
The benefits of pressotherapy at home
Consistency in therapy We saw earlier that, in addition to using other tools, it is essential to perform this therapy daily. Being at home, of course, means that it will be much easier to stick to it.
Difficulty walking Here one only has to think of the nature of the conditions mentioned, the age of the patients and the difficulty in getting around, especially when moving for long periods of time. “At home” this problem no longer exists or is drastically reduced.
Zero km Not everyone lives in the center of a city and not everyone has a specialized center a few km from home. Not to mention that not everyone has access to a car or transportation and travel costs are a significant part of the overall budget. Being able to attend therapy without having to travel is a huge plus.
Another great benefit of a home pressotherapy device is that it can be used to significantly improve our overall health. This is achieved by preventing or alleviating a range of physical discomforts that burden us every day. Are you an office worker and sit at your desk all day? Are you a store clerk who is on your feet from morning to night? Are you overweight and do not exercise or even walk very little?
One or several sessions will help you to restore proper drainage of your body’s fluids by reactivating the entire circulatory system. All ailments such as tired and swollen legs, pins and needles due to poor blood circulation, etc. will disappear.
Privacy Maybe this aspect seems a bit irrelevant to you, but think of all those people with advanced lymphedema, who may be overweight. They may feel very uncomfortable having to undergo therapy in a public setting. Treating yourself in a familiar environment is the easiest and most comfortable way.