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Can Wearing High-Strength Compression Cause Leg Muscle Atrophy?


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I'm just wondering if wearing high-strength compression can cause leg muscle atrophy over time, thus affecting your body's ability to counteract lower body pooling..?

Please post if you have any thoughts on this, because I may be totally incorrect in even wondering if this could happen! :P

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Guest tearose

I have not had muscle atrophy from compression and I have worn them for a long time. In fact, they help me stay more active since they keep the nerve fibers tighter and keep blood from pooling and legs from swelling.

The high strength compression has been shown to keep a person "tight" for a bit of time after removing compression too! I know from personal experience and from imaging studies that after removing compression, over time, things will start to pool and loosen, over time. I will be able to "hold" some tightness for a while.

There is an excellent radiologist who documented and imaged several studies regarding this. One I recall was that people who were having bladder prolapse and wore compression and had a CT did not show the prolapse at FIRST. They were then asked to reschedule the image study and remove compression 24-48 hours prior to the next imaging. The difference was remarkable. You could see how things "fell, drooped..." in the follow up study.

I believe that my legs and splanchnic beds (baroreceptor reflexes) are "holding" the tightness in a helpful way and have helped me to be as active as possible with less problems.

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Thanks so much, guys! I've been having some episodes of low BP and am trying to figure out the cause. In the past, my BP has gone up on standing. It's not interfering too much with my function, but this is a new occurrence for me. I've worn 30-40mm compression for 2+ years and couldn't go without wearing them. I agree with your experience, Tearose, that they do help for some time after I remove them at night.

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i have never had a problem with muscle atrophy and i have been wearing them for the past five years for 12 hours a day as a registered nurse. i will say that i have been having bp probs really low (70/40) and compression socks seem to make me at least mobile without passing out. i am not aware that compression socks cause atrophy, however if you are immobile and wearing compression socks, then some atrophy will happen, not from the socks but rather from the lack of use of leg muscles.

if you are bed bound or unable to walk most of the time i suggest range of motion exercises...i.e ankle pumps (move your foot up and down as if pushing down or letting up on a gas pedal in a car.) leg exercises include quad sets (lie on your back with your legs straight and toes pointed toward the ceiling. tighten your thigh muscles...hold for 5 seconds and release. then place a rolled towel under your knee, straighten your knee and leg and hold for 5 seconds and then release.) hip and knee bending (bring your leg in toward your chest, bending the knee and hip then back straight) of course check with your physician and make sure the exercises are appropriate. i know these especially have helped me during my "bed" days.

compression socks are made to increase blood circulation, if you are still having low bp probs i would consult your physician. when my bp is low i elevate my legs above my heart while lying flat, and it raises it.

good luck!

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  • 9 years later...
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@Nin compression stockings help by putting even pressure on the leg muscles, which supports the blood vessels. They have no room to dilate, so the blood has to go up towards the heart. And it also helps with the muscle pump - the muscles in the leg constricting and pushing the blood back up towards the heart. This all prevents pooling of the blood in the legs, which in POTS happens a lot and causes the fast HR etc - the body does not receive enough blood, so the heart pumps faster in an attempt to pump more of it. 

You can buy compression hose online and in medical supply stores ( like the ones that sell home medical equipment ). It is important to have exact measurements of your calf and thigh circumference and also the length of your leg to determine the right size. If you buy online they often have instructions on how to do this and then give you the size that is right for you. 

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Check with your doctor but it shouldn’t be caused by compression stockings as long as you use the muscles.  If you walk and/or exercise the muscle should not atrophy.  

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