What are Compression Systems Used For?

Compression systems are one of the most effective ways to treat venous disorders. Understanding compression systems requires a basic understanding of how our circulatory system works. Made up of a system of blood vessels that move blood throughout our bodies propelled by the beating of our hearts, our circulatory system consists of arteries (which carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart) and veins (which carry the used, or oxygen-poor blood back to the heart.

Veins are hollow tubes that are flexible with valves (flaps) inside that open or close to keep the blood flowing in only one direction. When those valves become damaged due to a venous disorder, the valves might not work properly and fail to close all the way. When valves don’t close properly then blood doesn’t just flow in the proper direction, but in both directions, or it can leak backward.

Compression systems

Compression systems refers to compression garments or bandages that when applied to affected areas, place pressure on the distended veins pushing them together. Compression garments may be static (immobile, like an elastic bandage) or powered, containing air cells and capable of a “massage” type motion. Air is moved into the air cells of a garment via a pump set to a selected pressure. When the air cells are filled in a special sequence, a “wave” motion is created on the affected area similar to a massage. This massage encourages lymphatic uptake and venous return, which in turn lessens swelling and excess fluid.

Compression systems have been shown to effectively treat a variety of venous disorders. Here are a few examples of ailments and how compression is utilized to improve the condition.

Bandaging and wraps

Venus stasis ulcers usually occur in the legs and thought to be due to malfunctioning venous valves. They are the primary cause of chronic wounds. Excess fluid (edema) interferes with the healing process, so compression therapy is utilized to reduce swelling.

Negative pressure wound therapy

Negative pressure wound therapy, or “wound suction,” is especially useful in healing wounds that are difficult to treat with conventional wound dressings. Wounds that are large, or that would require frequent dressing changes, benefit from wound suction. By exerting negative pressure on a wound, the excess fluids are gently drawn from the wound. Think of it as a suction cup over the wound.

Edema treatments

Lymphedema is swelling in parts of the body, sometimes severe and generally occurring in the arms and legs. This can lead to fibrosis. With compression therapy, pressure is placed on the arm or leg, promoting the lymphatics fluid uptake.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Often caused by a hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) affects the circulation in the legs and feet by affecting the peripheral arteries outside of the heart, the ones that keep your limbs supplied with oxygen-rich blood. Graduated compression therapy is considered one of the best ways to treat this disease.
You’ll also see compression systems used for venous insufficiency, non-healing wounds, and many others.

What are Compression Systems Used For?

Compression systems are used as treatment for a variety of circulatory and vascular issues, which can be eased by compression therapy products whether the symptoms are mild or severe. Disorders widely recognized as treatable with compression therapy include edema, lymphedema, PAD, chronic non-healing wounds, venous disease and others.

Wraps and bandaging

Venus stasis ulcers on the lower extremities, frequently seen in wound care facilities, have been shown to heal better when compression wraps are applied. To heal venous ulcers it is essential that edema (abnormally large fluid volume) is eliminated. Although there is some controversy regarding the most effective use of compression wraps for the treatment of venous stasis ulcers, when used with correct assessment between patient and caregiver, compression wraps are effective.

Negative pressure wound therapy

Commonly referred to as “wound suction,” negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) assists in healing difficult to treat wounds, particularly those not conducive to conventional wound dressings, such as large wound or one that would require frequent change of bandages. With NPWT, the negative pressure pump functions as a vacuum, creating a very tight seal on the skin around the wound. The pump applies negative pressure, creating a gentle vacuum on the wound that “suctions” out the unwanted and excess fluids.

Lymphedema Treatments

Lymphedema is marked by swelling in various parts of the body, but usually occurs in the arms and legs. The swelling can become severe, resulting in the arm or leg becoming very large and heavy, possibly resulting in disability and disfigurement. Chronic inflammation can also result in fibrosis, and the area is highly susceptible to bacterial and systemic infections.

Lymphedema is commonly treated by increasing pressure on the limb, which promotes the lymphatics fluid uptake. Limb elevation is a simple method of treatment, using nothing more than gravity. Pressure on the limb can also be increased by applying special bandages, or through the use of medical compression stockings which stimulate blood flow.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD, is most commonly caused by atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries. PAD occurs outside the heart in the peripheral arteries that keep your limbs supplied with blood, mostly affecting circulation in the legs and feet. One of the best ways to treat PAD is with graduated compression therapy, clinically proven speed up the healing process of ulcerative wounds.

Venous insufficiency

Chronic venous insufficiency is the condition of leg veins being unable to pump an adequate amount of blood to the heart. Modern treatment primarily means using graduated compression to improve the circulation. Compression stockings are available in a variety of compressions. The correct compression should be determined after consultation with a medical professional. Stockings with high compression (over 20mm Hg) require a prescription.

Non-healing wounds

Wounds that are the result of bed sores, ulcers, or those that follow cancer treatment, can be extremely stubborn during the healing process, and may in fact not heal at all. These types of wounds—those not responding to conventional treatment—are classified as being chronic or non-healing wound. For wounds to heal, they require an increased blood flow. When the flow is restricted, compression systems can be used to increase blood flow to the troubled area, thereby accelerating the healing process.

Is Compression Therapy Covered by Healthcare?

With compression therapy recognized as a very effective way to treat venous disorders, many insurance companies cover it, either completely or at a reduction in cost to you. Much of the equipment used in compression therapy is covered by Medicare and a majority of insurance plans. Below is a list of items and notes about payment options.

Pump
If a patient meets a specific set of guidelines, they may qualify to get a compression therapy pump through Medicare. In addition, as long as a patient continues to qualify, Medicare will replace the pump every five years.

Optional payments
If a patient doesn’t qualify or have insurance, many compression therapy equipment suppliers offer payment plans. They will generally consider each patient on a case by case basis.

Co-insurance
Commonly referred to as “Co-Pay,” when insurance covers only a percentage of a treatment and the patient is expected to pay for the remainder, it is considered co-insurance. If, for example, an insurance company pays 75%, the patient must pay the other 25%.

Paying for co-insurance
The patient’s share of co-insurance is generally due at the time of set-up. A payment plan for the patient’s share of the cost is sometimes available on a case by case basis. Check with your supplier for their requirements regarding paying for co-insurance.

Must I pay for co-insurance?
Yes. By law, the company must collect, or attempt to collect, co-insurance from each patient. Legally, the supplier cannot let a patient simply not pay their share.

Financial hardship
If a patient is facing financial hardship, some compression therapy suppliers offer a financial hardship policy. In some cases, if a patient is experiencing hardship and meets all qualifying requirements, the patient’s share of the co-insurance payment may be forgiven.

Are you covered?
When a physician sends a patient’s order to a compression therapy business, they will verify coverage by contacting the patient’s insurance provider.