Have you ever worn below the knee compression stockings or socks? If you have never had to wear them, you probably don't know much about compression socks and why people wear them.
Compression socks (or stockings) are designed to promote better leg circulation by squeezing your legs more than traditional socks do. According to foot surgeon Georgeanne Botek, DPM, compression socks are not used as much as they should be and more people could benefit from wearing them.
Almost 90% of leg disorders start with the veins and studies show that compression socks and stockings work well for venous leg problems.
An example of a vein disorder that causes venous insufficiency is when the vein valves in the legs are not functioning properly.
How Do the Valves in Leg Veins Function?
When leg muscles contract (are activated) each valve in the veins in the legs has two flaps that open and close to allow blood to flow from valve to valve as they push blood back to the heart. These valves open in one direction so blood can't move back down the leg.
When leg muscles tighten, the valves open and allow blood to pass through and then when the muscles relax the valves close to prevent any backflow of blood.
What Problems Can Occur if Vein Valves Are Not Working Properly?
Healthy valves in the leg veins open and close normally but when the valves are not working correctly blood can pool in the veins causing damage to them. They can break causing venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency can lead to varicose veins.
Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins, most commonly appearing in the legs and feet. Varicose veins can cause pain and discomfort and swelling in the legs. If left untreated, varicose veins can lead to increased pain, swelling, skin ulcers, blood clots and even DVT (deep vein thrombosis). DVT is a life-threatening condition.
Your doctor may prescribe or recommend compression socks or stockings and there are three main types:
- Graduated compression stockings - This type of compression sock has the most compression at the ankle and it decreases up towards the knee. This type usually requires a doctor’s prescription and professional fitting.
- Anti-embolism stockings - This type of compression stocking also has graduated compression that decreases from the ankle upwards, but it is used for people who are not mobile. This type can help reduce the chances of developing deep vein thrombosis and generally require a doctor’s prescription and professional fitting.
- Nonmedical support socks or stockings - For this type of compression sock or stocking. a prescription is not necessary and is easy to find. Nonmedical support socks or stockings have the same level of compression throughout the stocking and can provide relief for tired, achy legs.
What is the Benefit of Wearing Compression Socks?
Compression socks and stockings come in a variety of pressures. For the compression socks that do not require a prescription, ask your doctor what strength or number of compression would be best for you before buying any.
- Compression socks help boost leg circulation
- Decreases swelling in legs and ankles
- Improves lymphatic drainage
- Prevents blood from pooling in leg veins and much more...
What Can I Do To Improve Veins and Circulation?
- Move around - Walk and do some exercise
- Monitor your weight - If you need to, losing weight takes the extra pressure off of your veins
- Elevate your legs - Gravity can help to improve blood flow in leg veins
- Avoid wearing high heels - High heels bend your ankles forward in an unnatural position which can reduce blood circulation in your legs
- Don't sit for long periods - Sitting on a chair that is too high puts pressure on the back of your thighs which can aggravate vein issues. If you work at a desk all day, a standing desk may help
Experts recommend standing up and moving around for 15 minutes for every 45 to 60 minutes you spend sitting.
Bell House Medical carries compression stockings and socks. Our newest line of compression socks is very stylish!!! Visit our store today at 16719 Coastal Highway in Lewes for all of your medical equipment and mobility needs! Or call us at 302-644-4404.
This blog post is for informational purposes only. Talk to your doctor before making any changes or starting an exercise program.
sources: Clevelandclicic.org, the Vein Specialists