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Diabetic Compression Stockings: A Guide to Helping You Choose the Best Pair

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In people with diabetes, circulation problems can cause swelling in the feet, ankles, and legs

If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, you'll definitely be working closely with your doctor, diabetes educator, and pharmacist on how best to take care of your health, perhaps with a special emphasis on your legs and feet.

By now, your doctor, diabetes educator, and pharmacist may have told you that circulation problems can cause swelling of your feet, ankles, and legs (called peripheral edema), that you should check your feet and legs regularly, and that you It may even be necessary to wear special footwear designed for people with diabetes.

What are the causes of peripheral edema?

There are many causes of peripheral edema, making it difficult to identify a single cause of its onset. In addition to diabetes, you may also be diagnosed with congestive heart failure and/or kidney failure. Both diseases are also known to cause peripheral edema. Many of the medications you are taking to treat diabetes can also cause edema.

Compression wear can help

Diabetic compression stockings can help reduce edema and keep your legs and feet healthier. Peripheral edema is often caused by a condition called venous insufficiency. Progressive compression stockings and socks have been shown to be effective in promoting venous blood flow by providing gentle, progressive pressure to the veins and valves of the legs, thereby reducing peripheral edema.

Wearing graduated compression stockings and stockings can help reduce and maintain edema in patients with venous insufficiency. Most people with diabetes experience less swelling when wearing Sigvaris Diabetic Compression Stockings.

Find the Right Diabetic Socks

Contraindications: arterial insufficiency

In some cases, people with diabetes should not wear compression garments. If you have been diagnosed with severe arterial insufficiency, diabetic compression stockings may not be right for you.

Talk to your doctor if you're not sure if you have arterial insufficiency and if you're not sure if it's safe to wear diabetic stockings in your situation.

Your doctor will perform appropriate tests to determine whether compression is a safe treatment option for you.

If you notice any discomfort while wearing diabetic compression stockings, remove them immediately and tell your doctor.

Did you know that people with diabetes are at higher risk for DVT?

People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing blood clots in the deep veins, called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

DVT is a serious event. If the blood clot ruptures, it can travel into the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE). PE is a potentially fatal condition with symptoms similar to those of a heart attack (shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid pulse).

If DVT is not treated properly, it can develop into a long-term condition called post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS). PTS can cause skin changes, ulcers, and other painful symptoms that can seriously affect your quality of life.

Both complications of PE and PTS can be avoided if DVT is prevented first. Research supports the use of graded compression stockings to help prevent the development of DVT. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing graduated compression stockings to help prevent DVT.

Why it's important to protect your feet if you have diabetes

Foot problems are more common in people with diabetes than in people without diabetes. This is because the blood vessels in your legs and feet can become damaged, which can affect circulation, promote swelling, and increase your risk of infection and other diabetes complications.

Every year, your goal should be to have your feet checked by your diabetes care provider, and if you know you have a foot problem, have your feet checked by a diabetes specialist (such as a podiatrist). A foot exam usually involves a visual inspection of your foot for signs of swelling or infection, as well as a test to measure your sensory level.

The benefits of compression stockings for people with diabetes

Your diabetes care provider may prescribe compression stockings to help prevent swelling, which can increase your risk of foot infections if left untreated. A compression stocking is a type of sock that provides pressure to the lower body—your feet, ankles, and legs—to control swelling and other problems.

If you're considering buying compression stockings for your feet, consider this guide to help you choose the best one for your needs and desired price point.

First, let's take a look at the different types of compression socks that are available:

1. Prescription Strength Compression Socks

The prescription should include "strength," a term used to describe the amount of compression in a sock, measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The prescription should also state the recommended length of socks: below the knee, thigh-high hose, or full-length pantyhose, Andersen said. That's why you'll often hear suppliers and the rest of this article refer to them as compression hoses, not just compression socks.

If your insurance covers the cost of compression socks, you will need the prescription to buy them at the store. "Unfortunately, they're not always covered by insurance, and they're pretty expensive [without it], so that's probably something the person has to prepare for," says physical therapist Karen Kemis. Certified Diabetes Educator at the Joslin Diabetes Center, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY.

Andersen noted that in addition to getting a prescription and considering length, measurements should also be taken. Your healthcare provider may take this measurement, but you may also try them on at a medical supply store that sells compression socks. Andersen says the right fit is integral to getting the right amount of compression.

2. Over-the-counter compression socks

Remember, if you don't have the option to buy insured compression socks, you can buy over-the-counter socks with mild compression almost anywhere. This includes drugstores like Walgreens and Walmart, local farmers markets, and online sources like Amazon.

People with diabetes may find these light compression stockings help prevent mild swelling, Kemmis said.

She adds that you don't need a professional to buy over-the-counter socks for you, but she recommends that you carry shoes with you when trying on and buying these socks, as they tend to be thicker, just like sports socks.

3. Compression stockings with diabetes-specific functions

Look for compression socks without seams, Andersen and Kemmis agree. Because people with diabetes can have nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy in their feet, they may not be able to feel the irritation and sores that develop at the seams. These wounds can go unnoticed and become infected. Andersen also says you can find compression hoses with open toes, which make it easier to check your feet for cuts or ulcers.

Your socks should also absorb moisture, Kemmis says, as this feature can help prevent bacterial infections, another risk that people with diabetes should be aware of. She recommends looking for seamless, moisture-wicking materials, noting that these may be marketed exclusively as "diabetic socks."

Andersen says the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) seal of acceptance/approval means the sock has been reviewed by APMA podiatrists to promote foot health, another great feature to look for.

4. tips for putting on prescription compression stockings

Putting on a prescription-strength hose can be difficult for some people, especially if you have mobility issues like arthritis or have difficulty bending over, Kemis said. She and Andersen share these tips to help you put on compression socks more easily:

Put on your socks first thing in the morning. "The most important thing is to put them on before your legs swell," Andersen points out. If you have to take a shower or get up in the morning to move around, be sure to sit down and elevate your legs before putting them on, she adds.

Use a sock aid. Devices such as stocking covers made of silk material or metal frames that hold your socks in place can help you pull up your compression socks. Kemmis recommends purchasing the device from a medical supply store so you know how to use it properly. "I'll sit in the store and I'll have [staff] teach you how to use it and make sure it works as expected," she added. You can also find gloves designed to hold compression hoses. Andersen said one of her patients used rubber kitchen gloves to pull up his compression hose.

Start at the bottom and work your way up. "Really get your hands inside the socks and gradually pull them up," says Andersen, describing the best way to put socks on your feet.

Buy two pairs of socks so you have a spare. Kemis says most compression stockings should be hand washed in the sink and then hung up to dry completely. Having two pairs on hand can help ensure you always have a pair dry and ready to wear when you wake up.