Objective: To determine if low-ankle-pressure graduated-compression tights (GCTs) reduce flight-induced ankle oedema and subjectively rated travel symptoms of leg pain, discomfort and swelling, and improve energy levels, ability to concentrate, alertness, and post-flight sleep.
Design, setting and participants: Open, randomised crossover trial comparing the effects of GCTs (5 mmHg at ankle, 17–20 mmHg at calf and falling to 10 mmHg above knee and 4 mmHg at buttocks) among 50 adults on flights of 5 hours’ or more duration between 1 May and 8 October 2006; 47 volunteers (pilots and passengers) completed the trial.
Results: Low-ankle-pressure GCTs decreased ankle swelling (mean difference, − 0.19 cm; 95% CI, − 0.33 to − 0.65 cm; P = 0.012). Participants reported their legs felt better (mean, 1.6; P < 0.001; 95% CI, 1.0 to 2.1), warmer (mean, − 1.1; P < 0.001; 95% CI, − 1.6 to − 0.6), and they had a better night’s sleep (mean, 1.2; P < 0.001; 95% CI, 0.8 to 1.7) after the flight when they wore GCTs. Shifts in rating-scale probability distributions showed improvements in the ratings of pain (60%; P < 0.001), leg discomfort (50%; P = 0.001), leg swelling (45%; P = 0.006), energy levels (18%; P = 0.016), alertness levels (13%; P = 0.031), and concentration (12%; P = 0.023) when wearing GCTs.
Conclusions: Low-ankle-pressure GCTs reduce flight-induced ankle oedema and subjectively rated travel symptoms of leg pain, discomfort and swelling, and improve energy levels, ability to concentrate, alertness, and post-flight sleep.
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