Objective: Occupational leg symptoms are highly prevalent in the general population and impair the psychic state of health. We investigated hairdressers, a cohort exposed to prolonged standing during work, in a randomized crossover trial. We hypothesized that hairdressers wearing low-strength compression hosiery would benefit from less leg volume increase and discomfort.
Methods: One hundred and eight hairdressers were randomized to wear medical compression stockings (MCS; 15-20 mmHg) in a crossover study. The effect of MCS on symptoms and on lower leg volume was compared with no compression treatment. Symptoms were assessed with a comprehensive questionnaire, categorized using factor analysis with varimax rotation and correlated with leg volume changes.
Results: Wearing MCS reduced the symptom score for pain and feelings of swelling (range 0-4) by an average of 0.22 (12%, P < 0.001). Sleep disturbance, feeling of unattractive legs and depressiveness improved with MCS compared with no MCS. Subjects initially obliged to refrain from wearing stockings showed a significant decrease of pain and feelings of swelling as well (by 0.10 [6%], P = 0.015). Wearing MCS was associated with a decrease of lower leg volume by an average of 19 mL (P < 0.001), with preference in older hairdressers (P < 0.001). The effects of wearing MCS on symptoms and on leg volume were not correlated with each other.
Conclusions: Individuals working in a standing profession experience leg pain, feelings of swelling, heaviness and various other disturbing feelings. These symptoms can be alleviated by wearing low-strength MCS.
Keywords: compression stockings; occupational leg swelling; quality of life.