Background: Lymph is pumped through the collecting lymphatic vessels by both intrinsic and extrinsic forces. The intrinsic pump relies on spontaneous lymphatic contraction, which generates the pumping lymph pressure (Plp). Among healthy people with daily leg edema, a considerable number of cases are accompanied with low leg Plp. Herein, a double-blinded controlled trial was conducted in healthy female volunteers with reduced leg Plp to compare the effectiveness of a 15-29 mmHg compression stocking (Stocking A) and a 8-16 mmHg stocking (Stocking B) on elevating Plp.
Method and results: Among 219 healthy female volunteers who underwent measurement of leg Plp, 80 participants (36.5%) had unilateral or bilateral legs with Plp < 20 mmHg (122 legs with Plp < 20 mmHg and 38 legs with Plp ≧ 20 mmHg). These 80 participants were assigned to wear either Stocking A (n = 40) or Stocking B (n = 40) for 16 weeks. Leg Plp was measured using indocyanine green fluorescence lymphography and an occlusion cuff technique while sitting. At 16 weeks, both Stockings A and B resulted in significantly elevated leg Plp, with the effect on elevating Plp being superior for Stocking A. Only Stocking A resulted in decreased prevalence of leg edema and improved Short Form-36 scores.
Conclusion: Compression stockings may represent a therapeutic option to elevate leg Plp and ameliorate leg edema, thereby leading to improved quality of life in healthy females with low leg Plp.