Sequential Compression Devices

Hello my Zebras and Spoonies! Thanks for coming and hanging out with me today, I’m glad that you are here. Today I am going to be talking about Sequential Compression Devices (SCDs), more specifically I will be reviewing the device that I bought. But I will also be talking about these devices in general.

Let’s start with what these devices are. They are wraps that go around the legs that fill up with air in a sequential pattern. They will alternate what areas are inflated and which are deflated to help push the blood through the leg. They are often called massagers, but they do not have any kind of vibration function, they work solely by compressing the muscle by inflating the wraps. Some devices, like this one, include a heating function.

I personally am indifferent to the heat function of this device. If I am looking for heat therapy of my legs, this device isn’t where I’m going to look. The first problem with the heating function is that the heat is only at the knee which isn’t where I experience most of my pain and thus don’t usually need heat on that area. Secondly, they don’t get very warm so I don’t feel like they have the best heating function available. If buying these again, I would opt for the device that doesn’t include the heating function as it doesn’t really add to the therapy being provided by this device.

Over all, I love these things. After I have spent a 12 hour shift mostly on my feet, my legs are very sore and have that tired aching going on. These improve that kind of aching immensely. The other thing that I have found is that they are really very helpful with the restlessness I have in my legs when I am trying to go to sleep.

There is research out there that shows that compression is helpful for restless leg syndrome, which I figure I have. I haven’t bothered to get worked up for it because I am not interested in taking the medication for it at this point in my life. While the restless legs do disrupt my sleep, I don’t feel that the benefit of the medication would out weigh the risk. Especially when considering the fact that the effectiveness of the medication is known to diminish over time. So, these are a great alternative to medications. The up side is that they are low risk. The down side is that they are expensive to buy and it is unlikely that any insurance is going to help you pay for them.

The one thing that I don’t like about this device is that they are one sized fits all in regards to their length. They do come with adjusters so that you can make them fit wider legs. But there is only one leg length available. This is a problem that I have seen with every one of these devices on the market. None of them have a short person option that I would benefit from. That being said, these do fit me well enough to do the job without causing any problems. I am just about 5 foot to give you perspective. So, if you’re also short, these might also work for you even though they are too long.

The downside to using these kinds of devices in general, regardless of which model you buy, is that they are going to be difficult to properly apply to yourself. For those of us with decreased mobility that is even more of a challenge. I personally have the benefit of having someone who can and does help me apply these properly. And if I didn’t have someone to help me, I’m not sure that I could apply these in a way that they would work well without being uncomfortable given that they are actually too long for me. So, if you’re a fellow short person, that might be something to keep in mind when looking at getting one of these devices.

So, the benefits of Sequential Compression Devices has been pretty well researched. There is the benefit that it will help reduce the risk of getting blood clots when a person is less mobile. That means that there is a pretty significant benefit for those who are not able to walk. Many blood clots happen when a person has decreased leg movements and the blood begins to pool in their legs. Anyone with a history of blood pooling in their legs and feet is also at an increased risk for forming blood clots. This is the case for many of us with both EDS and POTS who get many of the POTS symptoms because of blood pooling. That’s the biggest benefit to these type of devices. Having a clot can have serious consequences so being able to prevent them is huge.

The other benefits that I am aware of are for pain reduction and for treating restless leg syndrome. Just like anything that is treating pain, it is pretty hit or miss as to whether or not these will be helpful. But it is important to know that they are really only helpful for muscular pain. They are not going to have any benefit if your pain is neuropathic or bone pain. The reason that these help with pain in the muscles is that they promote improved blood flow which is going to help your body get rid of the waste products that build up when your muscle perform. It’s those waste products that cause us to have sore and aching muscles when we’ve had a work out.

And I already talked about these helping with restless leg syndrome. There isn’t a known reason that compression therapy helps, but it has been shown to have benefit. This is true for compression garments as well so the other thing to consider for restless leg syndrome is compression socks or leggings.

It is important to understand that this device is that it is a compression therapy device. Any time that you are looking at starting a compression therapy, it is important to be sure that there is no evidence of any kind of arterial insufficiency. If you have already been prescribed compression stockings by your doctor then these would also be fine as arterial insufficiency must be ruled out for all types of compression therapy. But if this would be the first time you’ve used compression therapy, it is a good idea to talk with your doctor before you start.

Over all, compression therapy is pretty low risk. Generally speaking, having a serious adverse event with the use of compression therapy is rare if the devices are used correctly and if the contraindications are followed. Which is why it is important to touch base with your doctor before getting started. You want to be sure that you don’t fall into the contraindications list. Most commonly, people experience skin rashes and discomfort with compression. If you are not properly cleaning your device it can also increase your risk for infections. You shouldn’t share devices either because that can also increase the risk for infections. If you’re interested in reading more about the possible adverse effects from compression therapy and the measures you can take to prevent them, there is this wonderful article that expertly covers that topic.

To sum it up, I would recommend this device. I personally found it very helpful with both pain and restless legs. I know that it is also reducing my blood clot risk which I am a fan of. You can follow the link at the start of this post to look at the particular device that I chose and purchased, but there are a lot of them out there. It is worth shopping around before you settle on a device.

Well, that’s about it for my rambling today. Thanks for coming and spending some time with me. If you like what you read, click on that like button. It really does help! Until we talk again, you take care of yourselves!

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