Chronic venous insufficiency is a condition in which the valves of the veins do not function adequately, and there is a decrease in the return of blood moving from the legs upward to the trunk of the body. Edema (accumulation of fluid) in the lower legs is usually the first sign of chronic venous insufficiency, followed by pain, varicose veins (dilated, thickened vessels) and venous stasis ulcers (crater-like lesions around the ankles caused by reduced blood flow). Nonsurgical compression treatment is best for chronic venous insufficiency and ulceration. Supportive therapeutic measures are bed rest and limb elevation.

Compression in venous conditions means a pressing together of the lower limb with a device such as elastic stockings. Various forms of compression are available: elastic, rigid, and multilayered dressings. The type of compression used depends on the patient's needs. However, graded elastic and compression hosiery is the "gold standard" of treatment for chronic venous insufficiency.

The goals of treatment are:

" To control symptoms
" To promote healing of ulcers
" To prevent recurrence of ulcers
" To restore normal ability to walk

After the physician evaluates the degree of edema in the patient's leg, a treatment plan is established.