How Long Does It Take for Compression Socks to Work?

Do you suffer from swollen legs, ankles, and feet? If so, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Edema (the medical term for swelling) occurs when fluid gets trapped and accumulates in bodily tissues. While any part of the body can be affected, the legs, ankles, and feed are most commonly affected. This condition is quite common, largely afflicting women during the later stages of pregnancy, individuals who stand or sit for extended periods of time, high salt intake, and poor nutrition. Certain diseases, such as lung, liver, kidney and thyroid disease, some types of drugs, and venous insufficiency (weakening of the valves of the veins in the legs) can also lead to edema.

The swelling that is associated with edema can vary from mild to severe and often, the swelling is associated with pain, the degree of which can also vary. In extreme cases, the swelling and pain can become so intense that mobility decreases. Whether you’re pregnant, your job requires you to stand or sit for prolonged periods of time, or you have been diagnosed with an ailment or are taking a medication that’s has led to fluid retention; whatever the case may be, if you are suffering from edema to any degree, there’s no doubt that you’re looking for a solution. Compression socks may be exactly the solution you’re looking for.

How long does it take for compression socks to work? Keep on reading to find out – and to learn more about swelling of the feet, ankles, and legs, and how and why compression socks can help.

How Long Does It Take for Compression Socks to Work?

What is Edema?

First, let’s take a closer look at edema. As discussed above, it’s the name for a medical condition that occurs when fluid gets trapped within bodily tissues. The feet, ankles, and legs are most commonly affected, but other parts of the body, such as the hands, face, and abdomen – and even the entire body – can be affected. This condition can affect people of all ages.

What Causes Edema?

Edema is a side effect that occurs when the capillaries (the small blood vessels) leak fluid, and that fluid accumulates in the nearby tissues. Eventually, that fluid build-up can lead to swelling and pain.

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of edema, with some of the most common causes including:

  • Standing or sitting in one position for a prolonged period of time.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Consuming a diet that is high in salt.
  • High blood pressure medications.
  • Estrogens.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Steroid drugs.
  • Thiazolidinediones, which are medications that are most commonly used to treat diabetes.
  • Kidney disease and damage.
  • Liver disease and damage.
  • Congestive heart failure.
  • Venous insufficiency syndrome.
  • Long-term and severe protein deficiency.
  • Poorly functioning lymphatic system.

What are the Symptoms of Edema?

The signs and symptoms of edema can vary from person to another, as can the severity of the symptoms that are associated with this condition. Swelling is the most obvious symptom, while the following are other side effects that can be associated with edema.

In addition to swelling, the signs and symptoms of this condition can include one or more of the following:

  • Skin that has a shiny and/or stretched-out appearance.
  • Indentations in the affected areas, such as the ankles, feet, and calves, as a result of wearing tight-fitting clothing.
  • Reduced mobility, as walking can be difficult if the swelling and pain can become severe.
How Long Does It Take for Compression Socks to Work?

What Are Compression Socks?

Compression socks (also referred to as compression stockings) resemble standard socks, but they function quite differently. They’re made of specialized materials that are designed to apply gentle pressure to the legs, ankles, and feet. The key objective of compression socks is to enhance blood circulation in the legs.

There are two main types of compression socks, including graduate and anti-embolism.

  • Graduated compression socks. This is the most commonly used type of compression stocking. They’re available in a range of compression tightness, and they fit tight around the ankle and become looser as they move up the leg. Generally, graduated compression socks come in two lengths – thigh-high and knee-high – but full compression tights are also available and are becoming more popular.
  • Anti-embolism socks. This type of compression stocking is designed to maintain circulation throughout the legs, ankles, and feet, the objective of which is to prevent the formation of blood clots. They’re largely used by those who have mobility issues, such as individuals who are bed-bound while recovering from surgery, for example.

How do Compression Socks Help Treat Edema?

Compression socks help to treat edema because they enhance blood circulation. Edema occurs as a result of poor circulation. The veins in the lower part of the body have to battle against gravity in order to re-circulate de-oxygenated blood back to the heart so that it can be re-oxygenated. When circulation issues occur – which can happen as a result of pregnancy, standing for prolonged periods of time, sitting or lying down for extended periods, or as a result of certain health conditions and medications – blood isn’t the only thing that has a hard time being transported; fluids do, too. When fluid cannot circulate effectively, it builds up in the tissues, which leads to the swelling and pain that is associated with edema.

The gentle pressure that compression stockings apply to the legs, feet, and ankles increase blood circulation, which in turn also helps to prevent the accumulation of fluid in the bodily tissues.

How Long Does It Take Compression Socks to Work?

So, how long does it take for compression socks to work? While it varies from person to person and depends on a variety of factors, typically, the effects of compression socks are experienced almost immediately. Most people report that they notice reduced swelling and pain in their feet, ankles, and feet right after they put on a pair of compression stockings.

The severity of the edema an individual is suffering from and the cause of the condition can impact the efficacy of compression socks. Additionally, it is important to make sure that the appropriate socks are being used to ensure they are working properly. A health care professional can provide guidance and information for selecting the appropriate compression stockings. In some cases, customized compression socks may be needed, which requires a prescription from a health care provider.