Background: Medical elastic compression stockings (GCSs) are one of the most widely used mechanical compression approaches to relieve venous disorders of the lower limb. The skin pressure profiles applied by compression stockings may be altered with body postural changes, thus exerting influences on their therapeutic efficiency. Objectives: To examine and quantify objectively the skin pressure distribution and magnitude beneath GCSs with body postural changes, and to analyze the possible reasons for skin pressure variations. Methods: The pressure levels of four different kinds of commonly used GCS were measured using piezoelectric sensors and a multichannel measuring system in six female healthy volunteers in 10 different body positions. Resullts: Body postural changes significantly influenced theskin pressure profiles (P < 0.001). Skin pressures at the ankle and on the anterior side of the leg were always highest when tested in all positions. Extension and flexion of the knee joint significantly influenced the skin pressure at the anterior and posterior aspects of the leg, especially when tested in the sitting position with the knee flexed at 90% and in the supine position with the knee flexed at more than 90% (P < 0.001). Plantar flexion of the ankle joint, such as up-heel standing and heel-off walking, significantly increased the skin pressure in the ankle region. Contraction, extension, and relaxation of the calf muscle did not produce large fluctuations in skin pressure when tested in positions with full knee extension. Conclusions: Body postures may be one of the most important factors influencing the skin pressure profiles applied by compression stockings. The anatomic structure of individual legs, the special design of compression stockings, and the physical properties of stocking materials also influence skin pressure variations at different tested locations in different body positions. Appropriate leg postural changes and exercise may improve the therapeutic effectiveness of GCSs.
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