Sport and exercise scientists at Sheffield Hallam University have started a new study into the treatment of Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI), which affects patients' legs, often causing painful leg ulcers.
The medical condition means veins in the legs cannot pump enough blood back to the heart. It can cause pain, social isolation, inability to move, reduced quality of life, and treatment of venous ulcers is costly to the National Health Service. Sheffield Hallam experts are examining the use of exercise in treating the condition.
Dr Markos Klonizakis from the University's Centre for Sport and Exercise Science is leading the study, which will initially involve 80 patients. He said: "Venous ulcers are often treated with compression therapy - while this works very well, ulcers frequently come back, and the only alternative is surgery. We therefore need to find other ways to treat the problem.
"Supervised exercise training may compliment compression therapy in the prevention and treatment of venous ulcers. Exercise is a low-cost, low-risk, and effective strategy for improving physical and mental health. However, little is currently known about the practicality and usefulness of supervised exercise training used in combination with compression in patients with venous ulcers."
The three-year study will look into the benefits of supervised exercise training and compression stockings in patients with venous ulceration, and determine whether a larger study would be worthwhile.
Patients will be assigned to either wear compression stockings, or to take part in a 12-week exercise programme along with the compression stockings. Exercising participants will undertake three sessions of supervised exercise each week, including walking, cycling, and leg strength and flexibility exercises.
The project is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research and will run until May 2017.