Compression Lymphedema Boots are a useful way to control swelling in the legs with modern day compression therapy.
Whether you call them Lymphedema boots, compression recovery boots, air compression boots or PCD’s (pneumatic compression device) they are still the same thing. A modern day take on traditional compression therapy to assist in the control of swelling or edema of the legs in lymphedema patients.
Interestingly, in almost every way (except the fancy marketing of course) lymphedema boots are no different to the commercial compression recovery boots for athletes. As a Podiatrist having heard many hundreds of accounts of displeasure with traditional static compression hose (compression stockings) from patients, its refreshing to see a new more effective alternative on the market for struggling lymphedema patients.
What are the benefits of compression boots for edema?
As is widely known one of the side effects of lymphedema that doctors are keen to control is the swelling or ‘edema’ in the legs or arms. This swelling or pooling or fluid in the extremities impairs the bodies ability to fight infection. This is one of the reasons any impairment to the lymphatic system is taken so seriously. Aside from the extremities, a distruption to the lymphatic draining system can result in the lymphocytes not being able to reach other sites of infection in the body.
There is evidence that intermittent external pneumatic compression is a reliable alternative method of swelling or edema reduction in the legs for lymphedema patients (Martin et al, 2016).
The modern day pneumatic compression decongestive therapy (that of lymphatic boots) is the same approach that manual therapies like lymphatic draining massage have had many many decades.
Are lymphedema boots better than lymphatic massage?
Lymphedema boots or air compression boots are thought to be a more automated, affordable and powerful approach to control swelling in the legs than lymphatic draining.
One obvious benefit being that you do not need to travel or incur the cost to have a qualified professional deliver the treatment. There is also increasing research in to this area that suggests the power of mechanical compressions delivered at higher pressures will have a greater effect on lymph flow from the areas treated, most commonly the arms and legs.
What is the science behind compression boots for lymphedema?
Compression therapy has the aim of promoting blood supply by improving circulation and eliminating metabolic waste that impairs the body’s ability to fight infection and repair tissue damage.
Just like we see with compression stockings, compression boots used in lympedema utilise a sequential pressure change up the leg with the most pressure being applied around the ankle and a lower pressure being applied up the leg to encourage lymphatic draining in the direction back towards the heart.
This science is not new, with hospitals having used compression therapy for decades to prevent DVT’s for high risk or post surgical cases in the wards.
What's it like to use compression lymphedema boots?
Most people quiet enjoy the feeling of compression boots. In fact they are at times referred to as compression massage boots because the sequential therapy and pumping of air feels like a light (yet strangely deep?!) massage.
Using compression boots for edema is a little like stepping in to a spacesuit. The large inflatable boots are hooked up to an air pump via hoses. Most devices plug in to the wall for power, however some are now even made wireless.
Do compression boots replace compression stockings (compression hosiery)?
This is a question for your medical professional. I know many patients lament the idea of compression stockings for the pain that comes with getting them on everyday and then the discomfort they can cause around the knee. I just want to be clear that like lymphatic massage, lymphedema boots will not necessarily eliminate the need for daily compression hosiery or stockings. I suggest you pose the question to your medical provider and see what advice they have for your particular situation.
The hope would be that some patients may not have to be so reliant on the daily use of these compression garments with the use of additional compression therapy methods that they find to be effective for them.
Some suggested lymphedema boots
Perfect for the price conscious buyer. 3 pressure chambers with 10 adjustable modes. Optional heating not recommended for those with diabetes or circulation impairment.
A budget option that performs well. With less focus on athlete recovery in it’s branding, but the same compression therapy results.
1o customizable pressure serttings, 2 compression modes and 3 session durations. Good quality production at a strong pricepoint.
Known as the market leader. The NormaTex Pulse 2.0 only really loses marks for its price. A well made piece that will last beyond others.
- Haun CT, Roberts MD, et al. Does external pneumatic compression treatment between bouts of overreaching resistance training sessions exert differential effects on molecular signaling and performance-related variables compared to passive recovery? An exploratory study. PLoS One. 2017 Jun 29;12(6)
- Kephart WC, Mobley CB, et al. A single bout of whole-leg, peristaltic pulse external pneumatic compression upregulates PGC-1α mRNA and endothelial nitric oxide sythase protein in human skeletal muscle tissue. Exp Physiol. 2015 Jul 1;100(7):852-64.
- Martin JS, Kephart WC, et al. Impact of external pneumatic compression target inflation pressure on transcriptome-wide RNA expression in skeletal muscle. Physiol Rep. 2016 Nov;4(22).
- Zaleska M, Olszewski WL, Durlik M. The effectiveness of intermittent pneumatic compression in long-term therapy of lymphedema of lower limbs. Lymphat Res Biol. 2014 Jun;12(2):103-9.
- Heapy AM, Hoffman MD, et al. A randomized controlled trial of manual therapy and pneumatic compression for recovery from prolonged running – an extended study. Res Sports Med. 2018 Jul-Sep;26(3):354-364.
- Kitayama S, Maegawa J, et al. Real-Time Direct Evidence of the Superficial Lymphatic Drainage Effect of Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Treatment for Lower Limb Lymphedema. Lymphat Res Biol. 2017 Mar;15(1):77-86.
- Morris RJ. Intermittent pneumatic compression – systems and applications. J Med Eng Technol. 2008 May-Jun;32(3):179-88.
- Zelikovski A, Kaye CL, Fink G, Spitzer SA, Shapiro Y. The effects of the modified intermittent sequential pneumatic device (MISPD) on exercise performance following an exhaustive exercise bout. Br J Sports Med. 1993 Dec;27(4):255-9.
- Hoffman MD, Badowski N, Chin J, Stuempfle KJ. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Massage and Pneumatic Compression for Ultramarathon Recovery. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2016 May;46(5):320-6.
- Martin JS, Friedenreich ZD, Borges AR, Roberts MD. Acute Effects of Peristaltic Pneumatic Compression on Repeated Anaerobic Exercise Performance and Blood Lactate Clearance. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Oct;29(10):2900-6.