How Compression Socks Improve Circulation
People wear compression stockings for comfort, for better performance during exercise, and to help prevent serious medical conditions.
Basically, they improve your blood flow. They can reduce pain and swelling in the legs. They can also lower your chances of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a type of blood clot and other circulatory problems.
They come in different sizes and strengths, so you or your doctor will need to decide which option will work best.
what are these?
Compression stockings are specially made, snug, stretchy socks that gently squeeze your legs. Progressive compression stockings or compression stockings are tighter around your ankle and looser as they move up your leg. Compression sleeves are just the tube part, no feet.
You can buy it over the counter, but your insurance may pay for it if your doctor prescribes it.
You can buy them at medical supply companies, online, and at many pharmacies. They range in price from about $10 a pair to as much as $100, depending on the type you get.
Who uses them?
- People with or at risk for circulatory problems, such as DVT, varicose veins, or diabetes
- people who have just had surgery
- People who cannot get out of bed or have trouble moving their legs
- people who work standing all day
- pregnant woman
- people who have been on planes for long periods of time, such as pilots
what are they doing?
The pressure these stockings put on your legs helps your blood vessels work better. The arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood to the muscles relax so blood can flow freely. The veins are stimulated to push blood back to the heart.
Compression stockings can keep your legs from getting tired and sore. They can also relieve swelling in the feet and ankles and help prevent and treat spiders and varicose veins. They may even prevent you from feeling dizzy or lightheaded when you stand up.
Because blood is always flowing, it is more difficult for it to collect and form clots in your veins. If one forms and breaks free, it can travel with your bloodstream and get stuck in dangerous places, like your lungs. Clots also make it harder for blood to flow around them, which can lead to swelling, skin discoloration, and other problems.
Some athletes, including runners, basketball players and triathletes, wear compression socks and sleeves on their legs and arms. The theory is that during activity, better blood flow will help oxygenate the muscles, and support will help prevent tissue damage. Afterwards, enhanced blood and lymph circulation will help their muscles recover quickly. They don't hurt as much and they don't cramp as much.
Research shows gear has little to no effect on athletic performance, but some swear by it. Maybe thinking they have an edge gives them an edge. The evidence for a quicker recovery is better, but not enough to make a difference for the weekend Warriors.
What kinds are there?
Socks and sleeves come in different lengths to cover different parts of the body. For DVT, most stockings are below the knee, but you can also wear thigh highs and tights.
They also have different pressure levels, measured in mmHg. Stockings should feel comfortable, but not too tight. Mild compression with fewer numbers is usually enough to keep you comfortable on the job. You need higher numbers and a firmer fit to prevent DVT.
Thromboembolic Deterrent (TED) hoses or anti-embolic stockings are designed for use after surgery and when bed rest is required. Gradient compression stockings are better if you can stand and move around.
If you need stockings for medical reasons, your doctor will measure your legs and prescribe the appropriate ones for you.
how to wear them
Flatten the stockings so they lie flat against your skin. Avoid gathering.
Make sure they are not too long. Do not fold or roll down the tops as this will make them too tight. It can cause blood flow problems or cut off your circulation like a tourniquet.
If your doctor tells you to wear them, you may want to keep them on most of the time. But you can take them off for a shower or bath. You can wear socks, slippers, and shoes over compression stockings. Check with your doctor about how often and when you need to use them.
Compression stockings are not like regular stockings. They are usually specified to specific specifications and require professional assembly. There are many tips and tricks to help with proper use and care so that they provide the intended therapeutic benefit while minimizing the risk of side effects.
Compression stockings (sometimes called compression stockings) gently squeeze your legs to help promote blood flow from your legs back to your heart. Thigh- or waist-high stockings help reduce blood pooling in the legs and help prevent dizziness or falls when standing up (orthostatic hypotension). Stockings that rise below the knee help limit calf swelling due to fluid buildup. They may also help prevent venous ulcers and prevent blood clots from forming in the legs -- especially after surgery or when you may be inactive for a while. Additionally, compression stockings can help reduce pain from varicose veins.
Compression stockings in small quantities are sold without a prescription. Your care provider may prescribe stronger compression stockings in certain specifications, such as compression strength and stocking length, based on the condition being treated. There are also many personal preference features, such as having closed or open toes and sock colors, as well as a wide range of brands to choose from.
Usually, your prescription is filled by trained staff at a medical supply store, where your leg is measured correctly to ensure a fit. A key factor is measuring your legs when they are least swollen - usually in the early morning. If your legs are severely swollen, you may need to wrap them in compression bandages until your fitting room minimizes swelling.
Compression stockings are designed to provide maximum pressure around the ankle, with pressure decreasing as the stocking rises up the leg. Compression stockings can be put on or put on in a few different ways. One way to do this is to gently pull the loose, unfolded stocking over the foot until it fits perfectly against the foot and heel. You can also roll the stockings down or fold them inside out to ankle level. Then you pull or unfold the remaining stockings to the proper height, smoothing out as you go. A device called a sock wrap helps you put on your compression stockings, which can be especially helpful if conditions like arthritis make it difficult for you to grip and pull.
For best results, make sure your skin is dry, especially after using the lotion. Moisture makes putting on stockings more difficult. It may also be helpful to sit in a chair for stability when putting on stockings. After putting on the stockings, check that the seams run straight up and that there are no wrinkles or puckering, especially at the ankles. Do not fold the top of the stocking down.
You can protect your stockings from damage by wearing socks, slippers, or shoes, and be careful not to hang toenails, fingernails, or jewelry on your stockings. Tear or run may mean it needs to be replaced. Stockings may also need to be replaced if they start to roll up, wrinkle, or slip, or stretch over time.
Be sure to wear compression socks as prescribed, whether it's as soon as possible in the morning, until bedtime, or all day and night. If you forget to wear them, your legs may swell, making it difficult or impossible to put on the stockings again. If your legs do swell, you will need to take steps to reduce the swelling, such as lying down and raising your feet or using a compression bandage at night. Contact your healthcare provider if swelling persists for more than a few days, or discuss other options if you are having trouble wearing stockings.