In honor of Dysautonomia Awareness Month this October, here’s your official spoonie guide, complete with tips and information to educate your friends, families and doctors. Plus, enter to win a $50 gift card in honor of Dysautonomia Awareness Month. See below for entry and details.
FACT: Dysautonomia symptoms can include lightheadedness, fatigue, fainting, blood pooling in the extremities, brain fog, chest pain, heart palpitations, nausea, migraines, shortness of breath and more.
HACK: Laying down or wearing compression socks can provide relief for some symptoms of dysautonomia. Many POTS patients have difficulty standing, so laying down can help your body improve the blood flow and reduce symptoms. A proper diet and exercise regimen can also help regulate symptoms.
FACT: Dysautonomia is an umbrella term for disorders of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), which helps to maintain the ideal blood pressure and body temperature, controls your heart rate, breathing, sleep cycles and digestion. Many dysautonomia patients look “normal” because their symptoms are invisible.
HACK: Educate others about the symptoms of dysautonomia and be aware of your own. The severity of symptoms varies between patients. Keep track of medications that work or don’t work, activities that provoke symptoms and note how your body reacts to different situations, so you can stay in control of your symptoms.
FACT: Over 70 million people worldwide have developed various forms of dysautonomia. A common form of dysautonomia is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which can be found in people of all ages and genders. POTS impacts an estimated 1-3 million Americans, and is most often found in women.
HACK: The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Get involved with a local support group or volunteer with an organization like Dysautonomia International or participate in Dysautonomia Awareness Month activities to help fundraise to find a cure.
FACT: Dysautonomia is a relatively unknown condition to doctors and patients.
HACK: Find a doctor or a specialist who is knowledgeable about Dysautonomia or autonomic disorders. It’s important to work with someone who can determine the most appropriate medications for you to effectively manage your symptoms, and who can answer any questions you may have. Finding a doctor who can create an individualized treatment plan is crucial. You can click here to find a doctor near you.
FACT: Although Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) is not a rare condition, it is frequently misdiagnosed. The average diagnosis can take almost six years.
HACK: Participate in Dysautonomia Awareness Month this October to educate patients, doctors, friends and family about this condition. Share your story or get involved with organizations like Dysautonomia International and support research to find a cure.
FACT: There is no cure for Dysautonomia.
HACK: Adapt your lifestyle to assure your symptoms do not get worse. Remember to wear compression socks to prevent blood from pooling in your legs and relieve the dizziness or lightheadedness from orthostatic hypotension. Get organized, fight off stress as much as possible, and eat lots of lean proteins, fibers, fruits and vegetables. A high sodium diet of about 2-4 grams of salt a day is recommended, along with increasing your fluid intake to about 2-3 liters of water each day. Refrain from consuming refined sugars and caffeine as much as possible. Make sure you are staying active as much as your symptoms allow and are getting a good night’s sleep. Most of all, stay positive!
Have some great tips and tricks of your own? Comment below to share!
ENTER TO WIN OUR DYSAUTONOMIA AWARENESS MONTH GIVEAWAY!
To win, follow the rules below and participate in Dysautonomia Awareness Month for your chance to win. Just comment on this post or share it on social media. Good luck!
Here at BrightLife Direct, our customers are very important to us. Each day, we talk with people who have been diagnosed with lymphedema and hear not only their questions, but their struggles. Lymphedema is commonly overlooked by doctors and can go undiagnosed for a very long time. Many people battling breast cancer are unaware that lymphedema can be a side affect to treatment and are unprepared for managing this condition. It can also be hard to obtain the resources needed to manage lymphedema due to a lack of regional availability of therapists and the financial cost. Since there is no cure for lymphedema yet, patients must wear a compression armsleeve everyday which can be costly, especially depending on the severity of the swelling.
The BrightLife Direct Armsleeve Assistance Program
In light of this, BrightLife has partnered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to provide compression armsleeves to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it. We will be providing free compression sleeves to patients at six different Komen grantee organizations here in Washington, D.C. These awesome organizations will help the patient measure for the correct fit and find the best armsleeve to help manage their symptoms. They will then send this information to us, and we ship out the armsleeve free of charge the same day. Check out Francia, pictured on the left, happily showing off her new compression armsleeve!
Enter Our Breast Cancer Awareness Giveaway!
You can win! In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, BrightLife Direct wants to give back to the lymphedema community. To help others with the financial burden of lymphedema, we are offering a $100 gift card for one lucky winner to choose any armsleeve or compression stockings of their choice! See below for entry and details.
Lymphedema Style Guide
BrightLife Direct offers tons of compression armsleeves in a variety of sizes, colors, patterns and fabrics so you can find the perfect sleeve for you. If beige isn’t your style, we have lots of fun patterned armsleeves like LympheDivas and the new Juzo Signature Prints. The Juzo Dream Collection offers armsleeves and lower extremity compression garments in fun seasonal colors and tie-dye patterns. If you’re looking for eye-catching patterned leggings, try the new Juzo Soft Print Leggings, available in a large variety of patterns. Check out our style guide below for our customer’s favorite lymphedema options:
If you’re shopping on your own and don’t know your size, check out our Size Machine! Just enter your measurements and we’ll tell you what fits you best in all of the major brands. If you still have questions or would like some help deciding, please contact our customer service team.
You Can Win!
The rules are simple – the more you share, the more likely you’ll win! You can comment on this blog post to share your experience with Breast Cancer or Lymphedema, or share this post on social media. For details, see the Rafflecopter Contest Box below. Good luck!
If you have large legs finding compression stockings that fit well can be a challenge. For people with cone shaped legs, rolling and sliding is often a problem. There are solutions for both of these issues.
Large or Thick Legs
Most manufacturers make wide-calf styles designed for customers with larger legs.
The largest knee high available is the Sigvaris Comfort PLUS which comes in 20-30 mmHg and 30-40 mmHg. The X-Large size in this product can fit a calf up to 28″ around and they come in short and long lengths.
Therafirm Core-Spun products are a great option for larger legs. Core-Spun Knee High Socks are available for men and women. The largest size will accommodate a 17 inch ankle with up to a 25.5 inch calf. Core-Spun Thigh Highs are now available in sizes up to XXXL. They will fit an ankle up to 19″ in circumference, and a thigh up to 39.5″. Core-Spun Thigh Highs are designed for men and women, come in three compression levels and two colors: black and white. Sizes XL-XXXL are offered in the 15-20 and 20-30mmHg compressions only. You can see where you’d fit on the size chart below:
Allegro Surgical Weight Knee Highs 20-30mmHg are available in Wide-Calf sizes that fit a calf circumference up to 26 inches and an ankle up to 15.5 inches. The Surgical Thigh High and Allegro Sheer Thigh Highs are sized up to XXX-Large to fit a 15.5 inch ankle and 36 inch thigh. A customer who purchased the Surgical Weight Knee highs said, “This product fit perfectly and I have really big calves… not too tight – comfortable. Wore them all day!” The Allegro products are a great, affordable option for most customers.
Juzo has begun carrying a line of Varin Max products designed for larger legs. Size V will fit an ankle up to 14 inches, a calf up to 26 inches and a thigh up to 37 inches. The Max line is available in 20-30 and 30-40 mmHg in knee highs and thigh highs.
When I first heard this term, I thought, “Well, nearly everyone has a cone-shaped leg – the ankle is always smaller than the thigh.” But, that is not the shape we’re speaking of when it comes to socks and stockings. When you measure your legs, most people will find that their knee circumference is smaller than the widest point of the calf. In a cone-shaped leg, the measurements do not decrease at any point as you move up the leg – the calf and knee are about the same measurement.
If your leg is cone-shaped, compression knee highs have a tendency to roll or slide. A sticky silicone top-band will typically solve this problem. Knee highs with silicone top-bands are available in 15-20, 20-30 and 30-40 mmHg.
Both Jobst and Mediven have launched a new design of the silicone top band where they use sticky silicone fibers that are woven through the top band. This creates a more gentle hold against the skin. The Mediven product is called Vitality and Jobst is called SoftFit.
If you still have difficulty keeping the silicone top band in place, using a light adhesive at the band is a great option. It Stays is a water-soluble skin glue that is hypo-allergenic and safe for all compression stockings. It’s available in a 2oz roll-on bottle. A dab or two of It Stays will keep your knee highs and thigh highs up all day.
According to recent NASA research, compression garments can help astronauts once they return to earth to prevent orthostatic intolerance (OI). Once gravity hits, many astronauts experience a rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, the feeling of lightheadedness, or even like they might faint. Whether you are in space for two weeks or six months, once you return to earth your body experiences many changes, such as a lack of strength, blood volume, differences in coordination and balance, and even a struggle to walk or stand.
To help astronauts transition better back to life on earth, NASA is teaming up with BSN Medical, an international company that supplies therapeutic medical compression garments. BSN engineers are designing custom three-piece elastic gradient compression garments to protect astronauts against orthostatic intolerance (OI) symptoms, which occur when the body reacts to an upright or standing position.
It’s not just astronauts who can benefit from wearing compression garments to prevent orthostatic intolerance. Other chronic orthostatic intolerance conditions such as Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and Neurally Mediated Hypotension (NMH) fall under the OI category. NMH occurs when your blood pressure is normal while sitting or laying down, but is much lower after standing or being in an upright position. POTS refers to an increased heart rate while standing, but remains normal while in a resting position. Wearing compression socks can help fight symptoms of dysautonomia and prevent the feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness after standing up.
While we have compression stockings that help manage these symptoms, this new, innovative garment designed for NASA is still in the research phase and shows a lot of promise. Check back for the latest on the development of this cool new compression garment.
Last month, Sigvaris announced that they have signed a purchase agreement with Biacare, a small manufacturer of lymphedema, wound care and bandaging products. Sigvaris is one of the largest compression stocking manufacturers in the world. Still a family owned and managed company, Sigvaris corporate headquarters are in Switzerland, but they have manufacturing facilities around the world. Their US mill in Peachtree City, GA is in the midst of a major expansion project that will double the size of the facility.
Biacare, also a family owned company, specializes in short stretch velcro wraps, bandaging, and specialty compression garments that are mainly used to treat lymphedema, lymphoedema and serious venous diseases. Biacare’s CompreFit and CompreFlex lines of compression wraps have excellent customer reviews, and their bandaging is very competitively priced.
The merger of Sigvaris and Biacare completes the consolidation of the small family run businesses that specialize in the manufacture of specialty lymphedema garments in the US. Mediven purchased Circaid in 2014. Lohmann & Rauscher purchased Solaris in 2015, and BSN-Jobst purchased Farrow Medical and JoviPak in the past year.
BrightLife Direct has sold products from all of these small specialty manufacturers for many years. As a whole, we see the mergers between these large stocking mills and small specialty businesses as being a positive one for our customers. Before the corporate acquisitions, products made by Circaid, Farrow, JoviPak and Solaris could not be returned once they were opened. Corporate backing has changed this. Like we do on compression stockings, BrightLife Direct can now offer our 30-day guarantee on ready-to-wear wraps that can often cost hundreds of dollars for just one limb.
These mergers have also fostered some great innovation. Medi and Circaid have led the way with the development of Reduction Kits used during the initial decongestive phase of lymphedema treatment. In the decongestive phase, the affected limb is wrapped every day with multiple layers of bandaging, padding, and gauze. This treatment can go on for months, and the whole wrapping and unwrapping process can take hours each day. Reduction Kits are customizable short stretch velcro wraps that eliminate all the wrapping. These garments can change the life of someone dealing severe lymphedema.
We frequently suggest wool socks to our customers (because we love them!), but our recommendations are often rebuffed. Too hot! Too Scratchy! We get it – wool socks have a terrible reputation, but we’d like to change that.
So, what are our favorite wool socks?
Allegro Wool Compression Socks 15-20 mmHg For Men and Women
Sockwell Wool and Bamboo Blend Compression Socks 15-20 and 20-30 mmHg Men’s and Women’s Styles
Sigvaris Merino Outdoor Compression Socks 15-20 and 20-30 mmHg For Men and Women
Sigvaris Merino Wool Compression Socks 15-20 and 20-30 mmHg Men’s and Women’s Styles
There are many reasons to wear compression garments for humans and animals alike. Did you know that horses can wear medical compression bandages to stimulate the lymphatic flow in their legs? This helps to remove lymph fluid and toxins while managing swelling. Yes, after a long day of standing or running around, even horses get tired and swell up like the rest of us!
Interestingly enough, horses have about 8,000 lymph nodes, which is the most out of any mammal. This makes them much more prone to developing moderate to severe swelling, or lymphedema. In comparison, there are about 500-700 lymph nodes in humans, which are much larger than the lymph nodes in a horse.
Luckily there’s a solution. Juzo manufactures medical compression bandages that are specifically designed for horses to support and stimulate lymph flow. However, horses can benefit from wearing compression bandages for more than just swelling. Compression garments are recommended for anyone (humans and animals) standing for long periods of time to help increase circulation, to prevent and relieve swelling or fatigue. Since horses are almost always standing, compression can also be used as a preventative method to keep your horse in the best shape possible. Here’s how EquiCrown bandages can benefit your horse:
Juzo’s EquiCrown bandages provide precisely-defined pressure to relieve swelling in the horses’s legs. These flat-knit compression bandages are soft, durable and stretchy as to not interfere with performance. EquiCrown bandages are designed to promote circulation, treat wounds and scars, prevent and relieve swelling, and for managing injuries. These breathable bandages are even safe to machine wash and dry! EquiCrown compression bandages are available in ready-to-wear and custom sizes to fit mild to severe swelling. Here’s how it works:
Still have questions about how these innovative bandages work? Comment below!
This year, BrightLife Direct is giving back to the physical therapy community by providing a scholarship to help an aspiring physical therapist continue their education.
The 2016 BrightLife Physical Therapist Scholarship was open to all students studying to be an occupational therapist, physical therapist or physical therapist assistant. We received so many wonderful applications from students who are incredibly passionate about helping their community and returning their patients to a state of independence.
With so many amazing occupational and physical therapy students all working to improve the lives of others in their own way, it was challenging to choose a winner. The recipient of this year’s scholarship is one that is very deserving. This student’s hard work ethic, professional goals, and dedication to patients in need stood out to our Scholarship Committee. It is our pleasure to congratulate Lacy as this year’s Physical Therapy Scholarship winner!
Lacy is a hardworking student at Angelo State University, recognized as one of the top students within the program. She goes above and beyond the course requirements to impress the Angelo faculty with her ability and commitment in the classroom. Lacy is a natural leader and is involved in many community service activities and organizations, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. As a child, Lacy was passionate about science and helping others. She was inspired to pursue a career as a physical therapist after seeing the outstanding progress and happiness of patients and their families as they heal and are able to get back to their normal lives. Experiences like watching someone walk again for the first time after a stroke motivated her to pursue a career as a physical therapist.
“Experiences with my brother’s vehicle accident, a friend’s back surgery, my mother’s frozen shoulder, and volunteering at a local therapeutic riding facility all introduced me to the idea that this field could restore a broken, pained person to a functional and pain-free daily life. Such an idea is wholly beautiful.” – Lacy (excerpt from essay)
As the first member of her family to graduate from a university, we know that she will continue to break barriers and make her family and professors proud. We look forward to seeing her grow as she continues down this path of excellence, and we wish her the best in the future. To learn more about Lacy, click here to read the press release.
This blog was originally posted in July of 2014, but it’s a question we are asked often at this time of year, so we felt a refresh and re-post was in order.
It’s summertime, which means pools are open, and people are fleeing to the beach every weekend to escape the heat. For those of us that have to wear compression stockings from morning to night, this can be a difficult time of year.
I was excited to see one of my favorite lymphedema bloggers, Monique at LymphedemaRunner.com, addressing the issue in a blog post. Monique admits to being self conscious about wearing her stockings to the beach and pool at first, but found strength and inspiration in watching CrossFit Athlete Deborah Cordner Carsen proudly rocking her Elvarex stockings during a Triathlon.
Definitely check out the blog above to read more about Monique’s experience wearing compression to the beach and pool. Here are the basic FAQs on compression and water activities:
1. You CAN wear your compression stockings in the ocean, lake, pool or other water source. But, all of these environments will be hard on your stockings – causing them to deteriorate more quickly than regular daily use. We recommend setting aside a set of stockings or armsleeves specifically for water activities. These could be an older pair that you’re not worried about destroying, or a less expensive garment that won’t be a huge monetary loss (like Allegro).
2. If you will be submerged completely in water for most of your water excursion, you don’t need your stockings or sleeves. The pressure on your body underwater actually replicates what your compression garment does outside of water. If you go without your compression garment, do make sure your affected limb will be under water and put the garment back on quickly after leaving the water. If your affected limb is not submerged in the water, you should be wearing your compression garments.
3. As always – stay hydrated. Being in the sun at the beach or pool may leave you dehydrated. Pack plenty of water!
Some additional information on water activities and lymphedema can be found on LymphNotes.
Lastly – a few product recommendations. If you have just one affected leg, you might try the Juzo Varin 3511 Thigh w/Hip Attachment and Open Toe – available in 20-30 or 30-40 or 40-50 mmHg. Sigvaris offers a similar option in 20-30 mmHg and 30-40 mmHg in the 862 line.
CrossFit superstar Deborah Cordner Carsen recommends the Jobst Elvarex, which is a custom order product.
If you’ve watched all the videos on properly putting on your compression socks and you’re still having trouble, this blog is for you. Let’s face it – pulling on compression stockings is a challenge. Before you spend another 30 minutes fighting to get your socks on, try out some of these tips, tricks and tools to help you get your socks on fast and easy.
This video demonstrates three different ways to put your compression stockings on – the heel pocket method, wearing donning gloves, and using a stocking donner:
The heel pocket method is a great way to get on stockings made from a thick fabric or socks that provide a high level of compression (over 20 mmHg). Don sheer or less firm compression socks with donning gloves to protect delicate fabric from snags and runs. Donning gloves are great for anyone with limited hand mobility, arthritis, or have weak hands or fingers to get a better grip on the fabric. These gloves are the easiest, cheapest and most effective tool available to help you put your compression socks on.
The Jobst donning glove is unique because it is actually a cotton mitt with the palm and fingers dipped in a latex solution to grip onto support hose. It is a loose fitting glove which can be easier to put on for people with limited hand mobility. On the downside, there are no ridges or nubs on the latex which limits it’s ability to move stockings up the leg. We have heard from customers that this glove wears out too quickly.
If you are sensitive or allergic to rubber (latex), try the latex free Juzo donning gloves. These gloves work excellent for protecting the fabric, but do not have any nubs to help grip the garment. If you want something that will get a strong hold on the sock, try these:
The Medi glove has textured fingers and palms for additional gripping power to help you get the compression stocking over your foot and heel. Then you can use your palms to slide the hose up your legs rather than pulling. The Sigvaris glove is our highest-rated glove and features very pronounced ridges that makes it easy to don stockings and armsleeves. Here’s what our customer’s have to say about Sigvaris gloves:
“These are the best donning gloves that I and/or my patients have found for compression stockings of all materials and compression amount. I have been working with patients who have Lymphedema and are required to wear high amounts of compression. It’s a struggle to get them on even when you have the strength and mobility, so these gloves are a great aide for everyone. The price is very reasonable compared to other compression stockings manufacturers.”
If you have trouble bending over or crossing your legs, stocking donners do the work for you. Donners come in regular and wide-calf sizes, as well as some for putting on armsleeves and pantyhose. Long story short – there’s a donning device to make anyone’s life easier! Stocking donners require patience and practice, and are most useful for individuals who have trouble bending at the waist. Since there a lot of donners to choose from, we’ll cover our customer’s favorites.
The Jobst and Medi stocking donners make it easy for people who have a hard time bending at the waist. Simply stretch the stocking over the frame and step into the sock until your foot is on the floor. Slowly lift the handles to work the stocking up your leg. Both Jobst and Medi offer donners designed specifically for larger calves. Here’s how it works:
The Doff N’ Donner is an amazing tool! This can be used to get your stockings on and to take them off. This cool device works with open or closed toe knee highs and thigh highs. Watch this video for a better understanding:
Once you master using the Juzo Slippie Gator, you’ll be incredibly happy with it. This tool is especially useful for customers who have a lot of trouble bending over to touch their feet. Using a leg sleeve with handles and a rubber foot pad, you’ll be able to quickly and comfortably pull your stocking on in minutes. Like the Doff ‘n Donner, the Gator can be used to put stockings on and take them off.
A healthcare worker told us, “I bought the Juzo Slippy Gator to try with some of my clients. Most people I work on can’t bend over, much less pull compression socks up. The Gator is a great tool and has moved two of my clients to independently donning their socks.”
Watch this video to learn how to use the Juzo Slippie Gator:
The Easy-Slide for Open-Toe Stockings is only available for open toe socks and stockings, but it is simple to use and makes putting open-toe socks on a breeze. It’s getting rave reviews from customers and therapists alike.
“This device makes placing compression stockings on my patients a breeze. No more pinching, no more struggling to place the stockings on the patient. Saves me quite a bit of time in my busy day.”
The Juzo Slippie and the Easy-Slides for open and closed toe use slippery and durable “parachute” nylon fabric that you put on your leg and pull the stocking over. Using your new favorite donning gloves, work the stocking up the leg and pull the donning aid out from the top of the stocking or through the open toe. If you wear closed toe stockings, make sure you are using a donning aid designed specifically for closed toe style stockings.
Tips and Tricks:
Once the stocking is in the right position, use the palms of your hands to smooth out any wrinkles. Your stocking is applied correctly if the toe is in the toe box, the heel in the heel box and their are no wrinkles around the ankles or leg. Ideally, your knee-high should end about one inch below the crease in your knee. Never pull the stocking up the calf or thigh by just the top of the garment.
If you have swelling or edema, it is best to don your stockings early in the morning when you get out of bed. Our legs start to swell while we are standing and the compression stockings applied early will keep the swelling down throughout the day.
Before you put your compression socks on, apply baby powder, corn starch or Alps Fitting Lotion to help the stocking glide up your leg more easily. As an added bonus, this lotion protects sensitive skin and makes dry, chapped skin feel silky and smooth.
I’ve been wearing compression hose for 5-6 years now and they used to be a major nightmare to put them on! As soon as I tried the ALPS Fitting Lotion everything changed. Now putting on the hose is as easy as putting on a pair of socks–they just slide right on smooth as silk. ALPS has no odor and seems to protect my skin from some of the dryness and irritation that continuous wear of compression stockings have caused me in the past and a little goes a long long way. It’s an awesome product… a definite buy buy buy! Also BrightLife Direct is a great company with which to work. I can’t recommend them highly enough! You can’t go wrong.
Compression Assist Donning Aide is great if you have no problem bending over to reach your feet but still have a lot of trouble pulling the sock up. Spray your legs with the lubricant before putting on your socks or stockings, and see how easily you are able to pull the sock up! Compression Assist is hypoallergenic and it won’t harm the compression sock fabric. Plus, it reduces wrinkles and creases, all while keeping you comfortable. Here’s what our customers are saying:
“I was somewhat leery of ordering “Compression Assist”. I was starting to get accustomed to taking 15 plus minutes to don each sock. I was pleasantly surprised. It now takes just a few minutes and much of that time is smoothing the sock.”
Do you have another tool that helps? Let us know in the “Comments” section. And, check out all of our donning aides at BrightLife Direct.