Many physicians are afraid of compression. With that being said it is a hidden gem in the medical world!!
Frequently, patients are affected with lower extremity swelling and do not realize it is a condition that can be treated easily.
There are different options in compression therapy but the #1 option we utilize in our office is unna boot therapy. Unna boots are a 3-4 layer compression wrap applied by your Podiatrist to help with many different conditions.
The main condition for unna boots is Venous Stasis Dermatitis or Venous Ulcers. Venous Stasis Dermatitis is described as poor vein function (stasis) that has developed red, itchy dermatitis as well as swelling in the lower legs. This can cause weakness in the skin wall causing ulcerations to develop.
To describe the ulceration it is like a water balloon; when there is a pin hole it will leak at that point. To heal the ulcer the compression is applied to heal the wound and manually drain the fluid out of the lower extremities.
The down side to the unna boots is patients tend to make trips to the restroom often due to the fluid dispersing from the body, but hey sometimes we deal with things that annoy us to feel better. In addition, the described above unna boots can be utilized for sprains, strains, edema or cellulitis.
The following is a description of how unna boot therapy is applied:
- 1. A wet “zinc oxide” impregnated rolled gauze is applied to the lower leg from the foot to just below the knee cap.
- 2. A stretch bandage “Ace” is applied to cover the wet bandage.
- 3. Occasionally an extra dry layer of padding is added but not always.
- 4. The final wrap is a cohesive stretch bandage that is placed along with tape to hold in place.
- Unna boots can be left on 1-7 days dependent upon the physician ordering and the patient necessity.
- Unna boots do modify the size of the foot and leg so stretchy pants and possibly a post operative shoe may be needed during the unna boot therapy.
- Unna boots should not get wet! If they get wet, they can damage the underlying skin. (It’s like being in the bath too long and will cause skin breakdown.) If this occurs please call your Podiatrist immediately or if it not possible to reach them please remove the wrapping at home and dry the area.
- Unna boot therapy for ulcers may take much longer than for sprains, strains, cellulitis or edema. With that being said, patience is a virtue and it is well worth the wait.
Once a patient has completed unna boot therapy for the reason specified by their doctor, they will graduate into a compression garment of the physician’s choice. There are many options in the world of compression but the main way to stay healthy is compliance. If you do as directed by your physician and wear compression as advised, the need for unna boots will decrease over the time frame of your treatment.
If you have concerns about swelling in your legs and feet and need more information about how to help care for your feet call our office at 859-264-1411 or make an online appointment.