London: For patients with venous leg ulcers, the best prescription is good quality nursing care – and the occasional belly laugh!
According to a five-year study, led from the University of Leeds, ultrasound therapy does nothing to speed up the healing process of leg ulceration – contrary to what had been expected.
Traditional methods of nursing care, which are cheaper and easier to deliver, work just as well, the authors conclude.
"The ``healing energy`` of low-dose ultrasound can make a difference to some medical conditions but with venous leg ulcers, this is simply not the case," said Professor Andrea Nelson from the University of Leeds`` School of Healthcare, who led the study.
"The key to care with this group of patients is to stimulate blood flow back up the legs to the heart. The best way to do that is with compression bandages and support stockings – not ``magic wands`` - coupled with advice on diet and exercise. Believe it or not, having a really hearty chuckle can help too. This is because laughing gets the diaphragm moving and this plays a vital part in moving blood around the body."
Venous leg ulcers are common in people with varicose veins or mobility problems whose ``muscle pumps`` in the feet and calves struggle to drive blood up to the heart. These ulcers can be painful and unsightly, having a significant negative impact on health and quality of life.
Full details of the findings are published online today in advance of publication in the British Medical Journal and Health Technology Assessment.