Pressure therapy: how it works, when it is useful and how it acts

Today our physiotherapist Maddalena Vassura introduces us the pressure therapy and the care pathways where it is used. Pressure therapy is a therapeutic method employed in the medical field that helps exert a compression on the lower limbs and recalls the action of a lymph drainage massage.

pressoterapia1It is used within a therapeutic process for the treatment of problems related to venous insufficiency, water retention (often together with cellulite) and problems of the lymphatic system such as lymphostasis and lymphedema. These pathologies cause accumulation of liquids and proteins in the interstitial spaces of the tissues, thus determining a deformity of the interested limbs.

The action mechanism is given by the characteristics of some special medical leggings that are used, made of pneumo compression bags that inflate and deflate in sequence.

The pressure exerted is set up by the competent medical staff according to the problems to be dealt with.

The pressure therapy’s aim is to help the transport of fluids inside the body thus normalizing the venous circle and reducing the lymph stasis. The machine’s goal is to support and incentivize the physiological movement of the flows in the veins and in the lymphatic vessels from the periphery of the limbs to the heart.


In the picture we can see how it works exactly: with a distal (distant) → proximal (close) trend.

Pressure therapy is used in particular when it comes to:

  • lymphedema
  • lymph stasis
  • hematomas (e.g. postoperative)
  • cellulite treatment in the initial stage
  • heavy legs

Pressure therapy is an important therapeutic ally, but if not used correctly or in non-designated diseases, it can cause damages. This is the reason why it is important to consult the referring doctor or the specialist before taking it and to speak to competent medical staff.

Below we list the main use contraindications:

  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Erysipelas
  • Acute venous inflammations (phlebitis, thrombophlebitis)
  • Arterial occlusions
  • Renal/liver/heart failure

At the Hyperbaric Centre of Ravenna the specialist who deals with pressure therapy pathways is Dr. Fontana, physiatrist and coordinator of the rehabilitation staff.

Indeed, pressure therapy is often associated with other medical operations to increase its efficacy for example lymph drainage massages and/or bandages.pressoterapia

Maddalena Vassura, physiotherapist

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