Many people who use compression socks do so with a doctor's prescription. Also known as pressure stockings, compression socks primarily help improve the overall circulation of blood from the leg to the heart. They also help reduce the swelling that can affect a person sitting or standing for long hours.
Whether you wear them on one leg or on both legs will depend on why you need them. In most cases, you will need compression socks in the following situations:
- When your legs hurt or are swollen
- In the case of varicose veins and other associated skin conditions
- If you have deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- In case of lymphedema.
Note: Not all people who wear compression socks do so on the advice of a doctor or health care provider. Some athletes wear them because they help improve blood circulation during training, while pregnant women can put them on to reduce swelling.
Compression socks for varicose veins
Varicose veins appear when blood collects in small veins due to poor circulation. In such a case, blood collects in the veins and does not return normally to the heart. Varicose veins are often painful and will be most visible in the legs.
Often times, health care providers recommend that you purchase compression socks when you have varicose veins. Pressure socks help improve blood circulation in the veins in the legs and thus reduce swelling and pain.
Compression socks do not eliminate varicose veins on their own. However, research has shown that they can be very helpful. A recent study showed that wearing socks between 15mmHg and 20mHg was helpful for people with varicose veins.
In the study, a week of sock use reduced swelling and associated pain. It has also been found that women affected by varicose veins benefit greatly from compression socks during pregnancy.
Although the use of compression socks helps reduce pain and swelling in people with varicose veins, studies have shown that better results are obtained when medications or surgeries are used.
Notably, doctors may recommend that a patient use compression socks after having had surgery to remove varicose veins. Counseling is often done to avoid the prospect of a redevelopment of the condition, especially when the person is sitting or standing for an extended period.
It's important to note that using compression socks can significantly reduce your risk of developing varicose veins if your daily routine puts you at increased risk.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) compression socks
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when an individual's blood flow is affected and eventually clots in the veins. Unlike varicose veins, DVT occurs in veins that are deep in the body and therefore are not visible.
An individual can suffer from DVT in any part of the body, but it is most common in the lower body - thighs and legs. If you are suffering from the condition, you may indicate symptoms such as swelling in the legs, pain or soreness.
It's important to note that DVT can be dangerous to your health, especially since blood clots can enter the lungs and block an artery. As such, health care providers recommend using compression socks to improve blood circulation and reduce swelling.
Which compression socks are good for DVT?
Most wearers will prefer graduated compression stockings. These are well-fitting socks that are tighter from the ankle and reduce their strength up to the leg. The pressure from these socks helps push the blood down the leg and avoids the risk of pooling it 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 of those studies sampled more than 1,600, with the results showing a correlation between wearing compression socks and preventing conditions such as deep vein thrombosis.
The study found that wearing socks reduces the risk of blood clots and therefore DVT by up to 60%. Of those who did not use compression stockings, more than 21% developed deep vein thrombosis.
Doctors often recommend compression socks after a surgical process or in case a person has been diagnosed with DVT. You can wear them, however, following trauma to your leg 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 if you have DVT for the sole purpose of preventing the onset of post-thrombotic syndrome. PTS occurs in deep vein thrombosis and can be a cause of increased swelling and continued pain.
Choosing compression socks for DVT
Compression stockings come in different strength levels and the same knowledge should be used when choosing socks. The choice will depend on whether the swelling is below the knee or above. A doctor will therefore recommend that you obtain pairs of compression socks at knee or thigh height.
It is recommended that your measurements be taken correctly as they will help you compare with various brand charts when choosing the right fit. Besides the measurements, you will also need to pay attention to the tightness of the socks.
For DVT, healthcare professionals recommend pressure levels between 30 mmHg and 40 mmHg. This means that seal levels below 30mmHg may not be as effective.
Can I use a compression sock for lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a condition that causes swelling of body tissues as a result of a buildup of lymph fluid. The swelling can be treated or significantly reduced with compression socks after the treatment.
Getting the most out of compression socks
To have the best result when using compression socks, it is advisable to wear them before starting to do any movements or exercises in the morning. You should only remove them when taking a shower or bath.
Putting on the socks in the morning helps prevent swelling, a scenario that would make it difficult to put on the socks.
Wear the compression socks the right way and make sure there are no creases or creases. It is also advisable to wear stockings throughout the day.
Take good care of them and replace them after about four months of use.
Are there any side effects to be aware of?
Compression socks have no serious side effects when used correctly. However, since they are designed to provide firmness levels on the legs, they can be too tight and thus cause more problems with poor blood circulation.
If you find that the stockings are too tight, tell your healthcare professional. Some of the likely effects of a tight bottom will be:
- Increased pain or soreness in the leg (s)
- A feeling of numbness (including in the toes)
- If you notice a pallor in your toes
Compression socks are also not recommended for people with certain conditions such as dermatitis, pulmonary edema, peripheral artery disease, and peripheral neuropathy. Consult a healthcare practitioner before using compression socks in case you have any of these conditions.
Nowadays, many people are choosing to wear compression stockings. They are affordable, easy to access and help to fight off unpleasant symptoms of illness. These specialized elastic socks are designed to offer comfort to the wearer by applying pressure to the legs, allowing better blood circulation throughout the body.
However, those who wear compression stockings know that getting them on can be challenging. The good news is, there are easier ways to don your stockings and move forward with your day. ComproGear has put together a collection of tips and tricks to help you simplify your compression sock routine.
Before we go over how to put compression socks on, we’ll take a look at the basics : What are compression socks ? How do they work ? And what do compression hose have to offer you ?
Compression stockings are a unique type of therapeutic wear that helps to improve blood circulation in the body. These socks and stockings are often used to reduce pain or swelling in the legs.
Compression stockings can also lower your risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis ( DVT ) by exerting pressure on your legs as you wear them. This gentle pressure assists with blood flow from the legs and back to the heart, preventing the clotting and pooling of blood.
You will find compression stockings in a range of sizes and pressure levels. When shopping for your compression socks, note that mmHg is used for denoting the pressure exerted by compression stockings. A higher mmHg indicates a higher amount of pressure being applied to the legs by the compression sock. For example, 30mmHg is a higher pressure application than 15mmHg.
For those who do not have a medical diagnosis, using compression socks with a mild pressure rating will suffice. A low pressure rating can help you deal with tired legs and mild swelling.
A compression sock should offer a “snug” fit but shouldn’t be excessively tight. Before you make a purchase, take a look over the sizing chart to get an idea about which size would fit you best.
Medical grade compression socks are generally tighter in the ankle portion of the sock and gradually become less tight towards the knee. This type of compression is called graduated compression. TED socks and many varieties of compression garments use graduated compression.
You can purchase compression socks from medical equipment stores or ComproGear. If you need compression hose for medical reasons, your doctor will prescribe the right compression according to your needs and will help you order the convenable size. Prices will vary according to the type of compression sock and its brand.
Those who suffer from medical conditions related to poor circulation can benefit from wearing compression stockings : Anyone recovering from varicose vein surgery. Athletes who are recovering from an injury or who are training extensively. Those who are at risk of developing Deep Vein Thrombosis ( DVT ), varicose veins, edema or leg ulcers. Those who spend a lot of time travelling or sitting such as pilots, frequent fliers, truck drivers, etc.
It’s a great idea to put your compression hosiery on first thing in the morning before any swelling occurs from the day’s activities. This will allow the stockings to slide on with greater ease. Alternatively, you may lay down and rest your legs on an elevated pillow for about 15 minutes to reduce swelling before donning your socks.
Your legs should also be clean and dry. Dry off completely after bathing and if it is a particularly humid day, sprinkling talc or cornstarch across the legs can help the fabric of the socks slide on smoothly.
to pull on your compression stockings with ease, place just your toes into the stocking’s toe area. The rest of the sock will be bunched up around the toes as you do this. Gradually unravel the sock upwards towards your knee. Do not crouch on the floor or bend over while standing, as this will make it difficult to sweat your compression hose on. It is best to sit in a chair while donning your socks.
Wrinkled stockings are difficult to wear. Creases in the material can apply excessive pressure to the skin beneath them, causing discomfort or cutting off circulation. Be sure to smooth out any creases in the fabric once your socks are on. This will ensure you’re getting the optimum pressure application from your stockings. Do not fold over the top of your compression hose as this can interrupt blood flow.
If you wear open-toe compression stockings then this trick is for you. Slip a plastic bag over your foot and heel. The plastic bag’s slippery surface will help your compression hose slip onto your leg with ease. Once your sock or stocking is on, carefully pull out the loose plastic bag through the open-toe of your stocking. You can also try using a silk foot slip to help you put on your compression socks. It works in much the same way as the plastic bag trick. All you need to do is to place your foot into the silk foot slip then sweat your pressure sock over it and onto your leg, just as you would with a regular sock.
An effective method for donning compression stockings without the hassle is to use talcum powder or cornstarch. Sprinkle some across your ankles and legs before pulling your socks on. These silky powders allow close-fitting compression garments to slide over the skin easily. Talcum powder can also help absorb excess moisture on the skin.
Applying lotion and creams to the legs will make it difficult to put your stockings on. Moisturized skin tends to stick to or grab the fabric of the socks as you attempt to pull them on. One solution to this problem is to apply lotion before going to bed rather than in the morning. This allows enough time for the cream to absorb into your skin, leaving it smooth enough in the morning for the compression socks to slide on easily.
There are several donning tools available commercially that can help if you’re struggling to get your compression stockings on. You can purchase these tools at medical equipment or online stores. The prices will vary according to the brand. Popular donning devices include Medi Butler, Juzo Slippie Gator and Sigvaris Doff n’ Donner. These tools are ideal for elderly people or anyone with a mobility issue that has difficulty putting on compression stockings.
Donning gloves are a great tool to help you firmly grasp your stockings without tearing them. It can be quite difficult to grab and sweat the stocking fabric with your bare hands. This is where gloves can come to the rescue. Various brands manufacture gloves that can be worn while donning compression stockings. These gloves also protect the stocking fabric, especially if you are concerned about your nails tearing the hosiery.