Will exercise help residents with venous insufficiency ulcers?

Research has shown that exercise can help ease symptoms in residents with venous insufficiency. 

Chronic lower leg edema from venous insufficiency is what leads to the development of venous stasis ulcers. Therefore, the edema must be managed. Compression therapy and leg elevation are necessary to manage it. Exercise and physical activity can further help reduce edema in residents with venous insufficiency. 

Types of exercises to consider include the following: 

•  Performing ankle flexion (pointing the toes forward away from the body, then flexing, pulling the toes toward the shin) throughout the day will help reduce venous congestion and decrease venous reflux. Performing this in a standing position or with a resistance band will further enhance the effects. 

•  Walking briskly at frequent intervals during the day will help the calf muscle pump the blood up and out of the legs. 

•  If the resident is capable, have the resident walk at an incline on a treadmill, to further enhance the calf muscle pump action. Rocking in a rocking chair, using the feet to rock, will also promote the calf muscle pump action. 

Always ensure the resident is safe to perform the exercises and, if they are to be performed in a standing position, ensure appropriate footwear. 

The benefits of exercise for residents suffering from venous insufficiency are often overlooked. Encouraging appropriate exercise for these residents may improve the disease state, reduce the risk of ulcer development and enhance ulcer healing. 

As caregivers, we can use any advantage we, and our patients, can find, so look into the benefits of responsible exercise at every possibility.

Please send your wound treatment-related questions to “Ask the Expert” at ltcnews@mcknights.com.