For those with swollen legs and circulation problems, the simple act of putting on compression socks can make a world of difference in your comfort and overall health.
Also known as compression stockings, these inexpensive garments come in a variety of lengths and apply pressure to promote blood flow in the veins of the legs. They are usually tighter at the ankle and looser as they go up, and can be purchased over the counter or prescribed by a doctor.
How compression stockings work
"The veins in the legs have to return blood upstream to the heart," said Minesh Kahtri, MD, a nephrologist at NYU Langone Health. "What the compression stockings do ... is to improve the way the veins work and keep the blood going up. swimming."
Compression stockings are most often used with other therapies to treat people with circulation problems in the legs. They are also used to control swelling in the legs and feet.
Who can benefit from compression socks?
Patients at higher risk of postoperative thrombosis.
- People with varicose veins, a condition that causes varicose veins and enlargement in the legs.
- People with diabetes often experience swelling in the legs and feet.
- pregnant woman
- people with venous ulcers
Frequent flyers or people who fly long distances, as sitting for long periods of time increases the risk of blood clots.
When to wear compression socks
Ironically, both those who are inactive and those who are very active can benefit from wearing compression socks. Let's see why these diametrically opposed types need a little extra pressure.
on long flights. Compression stockings can help reduce your risk of blood clots if you're stuck in a confined space and cannot walk for hours. They are becoming an increasingly popular airline staple. Even celebrities like Jessica Alba have proven to wear them while traveling.
If you are on bed rest after surgery. Compression stockings can help reduce dangerous stagnation in the blood if you have broken your foot or recently had surgery that prevented you from moving. Elderly patients often particularly benefit from compression stockings or stockings, but virtually anyone with limited mobility can benefit from wearing a pair.
When to wear compression socks
If your feet or legs are swollen. There are many causes of swollen feet or legs, so be sure to seek professional advice before diagnosing the cause. However, those with poor venous fluid return in the legs with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE) or other venous disease can often benefit from compression stockings or stockings.
if you have varicose veins. In people with varicose veins, blood collects in small valves behind the veins instead of going to the heart. Prominent varicose veins can be very painful, and compression stockings can help stop the veins from getting worse and promote better upward movement.
If you are active for a long time. Those who stand up for hours at a time are an excellent choice for compression socks. Why? Marathon runners, waiters, pharmacists, and people who stand or move for long periods of time can overtax their veins and muscles. Compression stockings or socks can increase blood circulation and relieve muscle fatigue.
If you have a foot problem. We have patients with pre-existing conditions such as plantar fasciitis, where wearing compression stockings with padded heels, arches or toe support can provide relief. Those with foot or ankle problems may need different socks than the ones we've detailed in this article to hone the problem area.
How long to wear compression stockings
There's really no need to monitor how long you've been wearing compression socks in a day. You can wear it for a few hours or most of the day - just be sure to take it off before going to bed. *Unless your doctor advises you to wear it overnight.
Choose the right pressure
Typically, compression levels are divided into three different levels: light, medium, and high. They are measured in mmHg, which classifies the pressure or stiffness around your legs, ankles, and feet.
less than 15 mmHg. This gentle pressure is ideal for people who stand for long periods of time each day. It is sufficient to combat muscle fatigue and swelling caused by prolonged vertical positioning.
15 to 20 mmHg. This is the perfect amount of pressure for those concerned about developing a blood clot or having a slight swelling while flying. This is a moderate level of compression that can help relieve varicose vein pain.
20 mmHg to over 40 mmHg. This is a medical grade and is usually recommended by a doctor to help with varicose veins, severe swelling problems, or being forced to stay in bed.
In general, you're looking for compression socks that are tight but not uncomfortable. Most of our patients looking for extra support while running or traveling can choose one of the first two options.
The benefits of compression stockings include:
Improve blood circulation: Compression stockings are often used to improve blood flow in people with venous insufficiency.
Reduced risk of blood clots: Thigh compression stockings have been shown to reduce the risk of blood clots in hospitalized patients undergoing surgery by putting pressure on the legs and increasing blood flow.
Reduce leg and foot swelling: A small 2017 study of diabetic patients with swollen legs found that mild knee-high compression stockings significantly reduced swelling in the lower legs and ankles.
Ulcer Prevention: Venous ulcers are leg ulcers caused by interruption of blood flow. Compression stockings are recommended to increase flow and prevent blood buildup, which can speed ulcer healing and prevent recurrence.
Reduces orthostatic hypotension: Orthostatic hypotension is a condition in which blood pressure drops sharply from sitting or lying down to standing. Doctors suggest that waist-high compression stockings may help improve blood flow and reduce symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if a compression garment is right for you.
Improved athletic performance: A small 2009 study found that below-the-knee compression socks significantly improved running performance and reduced muscle soreness in male runners.
Are Compression Socks Harmful?
Compression stockings are generally considered safe, and side effects from properly fitted compression stockings are mild, such as skin irritation or indentation. Socks that are too tight can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and discoloration.
"If they're too tight, compression stockings can cause discomfort or, at worst, cut off circulation in people with vascular disease," Kahtri said. "If they're not tight enough, they're not going to be effective."
Compression socks come in a variety of sizes and lengths. Also, there are 5 strengths depending on the amount of pressure you put on your legs, so be sure to have your doctor or pharmacist try it on for you to make sure you're picking the right size.
You should avoid compression socks if you:
Ischemia: This condition occurs when blood flow in the coronary arteries decreases and oxygen cannot reach your heart muscle. Compression stockings can further impair arterial blood flow and exacerbate ischemia.
Peripheral neuropathy, or loss of sensation in the extremities: People with peripheral neuropathy may not feel when compression stockings are too tight.
Leg or foot infections such as cellulitis, gangrene, or exudative dermatitis.
Important: People with diabetes should consult their doctor before using compression stockings, as they are prone to arterial insufficiency, a condition in which the arteries become narrowed or blocked.
"It's okay to wear compression stockings all day," says Vincent Noori, a vascular surgeon at Charity Medical Center in Rockville Center, New York. "I generally recommend using them early in the morning after waking up and wearing them for most of the day, especially if you're standing or sitting for long periods of time."
Compression stockings should not be worn while sleeping because they are designed to defy gravity and help blood flow to the heart. Therefore, there is no need to use them when you are lying down for a long time.
Most importantly, these convenient garments can improve circulation and promote blood flow by increasing pressure in the legs, thereby reducing the risk of blood clots, leg ulcers and swelling. If you think compression stockings may be suitable, be sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you find the right one!