Many people who use compression socks do so following a doctor’s prescription. Also known as pressure stockings, compression socks mainly help in improving the overall circulation of blood up from the leg to the heart. They also work in helping reduce the swelling that can affect a person who sits or stands for long hours.
Whether you wear them on one leg or both legs will depend on the reason you need them. In most cases, you will need compression socks in the following situations:
Note: Not everyone who wears compression socks does so as a result of advice from a doctor or health care provider. Some athletes wear them as they help improve blood flow when working out, while pregnant women may don them to reduce swelling.
Varicose veins appear when blood pools within the small veins as a result of poor circulation. In such a case, blood collects in the veins and does not flow normally back to the heart. The varicose veins are often painful, and will mostly be visible in the legs.
Often, health care providers will recommend that you buy compression socks when you have varicose veins. The pressure socks help improve blood flow through the veins in the legs and thus reduce the swelling and pain.
Compression socks do not eliminate varicose veins by themselves. However, research has shown that they can be very helpful. A recent study showed that donning socks of between 15 mmHg and 20mHg was helpful to people with varicose veins.
In the study, a week’s use of the socks helped reduce swelling and the associated pain. Individual women affected by the varicose veins were also found to greatly benefit from the compression socks during pregnancy.
While the use of compression socks help reduce pain and swelling in people with varicose veins, studies have shown that better results have occurred when medication or surgical procedures are used.
Notably, doctors may recommend that a patient use compression socks after they undergo surgery to remove varicose veins. The advice is often made to avoid the prospect of the condition redeveloping, especially where the person sits or stands for an extended period.
Importantly though, using compression socks can greatly reduce the likelihood of developing varicose veins if your daily routine puts you at increased risk.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when an individual’s blood flow is affected and ends up clotting within veins. Unlike varicose veins, DVT occurs in veins that are deep in the body and are thus not visible.
An individual can suffer DVT in any part of the body, but they are most common in lower body- thighs, and legs. If you have the condition, you may indicate with symptoms such as leg swelling, aching or pain.
It is important to note that DVT can be dangerous to your health, especially as blood clots may find their way into the lungs and proceed to block an artery. As such, health care providers recommend that you use compression socks to improve blood circulation and reduce the swelling.
Most users will prefer the graduated compression stockings. These are snugly socks that are tighter beginning at the ankle and reduce their strength up the leg. The pressure in these socks help push blood up the leg and prevents the risk of having it pooled in the lower leg, a scenario that could lead to blood clots.
Research has shown that compression socks can play a big role in preventing the occurrence of DVT in patients. One such study sampled over 1,600, with results showing a correlation between wearing compression socks and the prevention of conditions like deep vein thrombosis.
The study revealed that wearing the socks reduces the risk of blood clots and thus DVT by as much as 60 percent. Of those not to use compression stockings, more than 21 percent developed deep vein thrombosis.
Doctors will often recommend compression socks after a surgical process or in case an individual has been diagnosed with DVT. You can, however, wear them in the aftermath of a leg trauma or if you are likely to sit for more than four hours in a less flexible posture.
A health care provider will also recommend compression socks for you if you have DVT for the sole reason of preventing the occurrence of post-thrombotic syndrome. PTS happens in the event of deep vein thrombosis and can be a cause of increased swelling and continuous pain.
Compression stockings come in various strength levels and the same knowledge should be used when choosing the socks. The choice will depend on whether the swelling is below the knee or above it. A doctor will thus recommend either you get knee-high or thigh-high pairs of compression socks.
It is recommended that you have your measurements taken properly, as these will help you compare with various brand charts as you pick the right fit. Other than the measurements, you will also need to pay attention to the tightness in the socks.
For DVT, health care professionals recommend pressure levels of between 30mmHg and 40 mmHg. That means that lower tightness levels of below 30mmHg may not be as effective.
Lymphoedema is a condition that leads to the swelling of body tissues as a result of an accumulation of lymphatic fluid. The swelling can be treated or greatly reduced by way of compression socks after therapy.
To have the best outcome when using compression socks, it is advisable that you wear them before beginning any exerting movements or exercises in the morning. You should only have them off when going for a shower or bath.
Putting the socks on in the morning helps prevent any swelling from occurring, a scenario that would make it challenging to don the socks.
Wear the compression socks in the right manner and ensure there is no wrinkling or bunching. You are also advised to wear stockings throughout the day.
Take good care of them and replace after about four months of use.
Compression socks do not present any serious side effects when used in the right manner. However, because they are designed to provide levels of firmness on the legs, they can be too tight and thus cause more problems related to poor blood flow.
In case you realize the stockings are too tight, inform your healthcare provider. Some of the likely effects of a tight stocking will be:
Compression socks are also not advised for individuals with certain conditions like dermatitis, pulmonary edema, peripheral artery disease, and peripheral neuropathy. Consult a healthcare professional before using compression socks in case you have any of these conditions.