How Long to Wear Compression Socks for Edema?

Have you noticed that your feet, legs, and ankles are swollen, uncomfortable, and tender to the touch? If so, then it’s likely that you are retaining water in your lower extremities, a condition that is medically referred to as “edema”. There are several factors that can lead to the development of edema, and typically, this condition can be self-diagnosed. If you suspect that you are suffering from edema, you should speak to a health care professional to confirm the diagnosis and to receive recommendations for managing the condition. Compression socks can be an effective way to manage the swelling and discomfort that is caused by the water retention that is associated with edema.

If you suffer from edema and compression socks have been recommended, you want to make sure that you are wearing them properly, and that means that you are probably wondering how long you should wear them. To find out how to properly wear compression socks for edema – including how long you should wear them – keep on reading.

How Long to Wear Compression Socks for Edema?

What is Edema?

The term “edema” describes swelling, and that swelling occurs as a result of fluid retention in the bodily tissues. The buildup of fluid can occur for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Pregnancy.
  • Standing for prolonged periods of time.
  • Blunt force trauma.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Inactivity (as a result of being confined in a bed or a wheel chair, for example).
  • Poor blood circulation.

In severe cases, edema may cause more than swelling and pain; it can also cause severe health issues, such as kidney disease, liver damage, restricted blood flow to the legs, feet, and toes, varicose veins, hypoalbuminemia (a deficiency of albumin), and deep vein thrombosis (DVT, or deep vein blood clots).

In mild cases, the fluid retention can be uncomfortable and unsightly; however, in severe cases, edema can be exceptionally painful and can even restrict movement. When edema restricts movement, a snowball effect can occur, as the condition decreases your movement, and decreased movement increases the swelling and pain that edema causes.

How do Compression Socks Treat Edema?

As mentioned, compression socks are one of the most common methods used for the treatment of edema. Why? Well, because these specialized socks are designed to apply pressure to the calves and ankles, and that pressure helps to reduce the fluid retention and pain that is associated with edema. Some types of compression socks apply graduated compression to the lower extremities, meaning that the highest amount of pressure is applied to the ankles and the pressure gets lesser as the socks move up the legs and into the calves, and perhaps into the thighs (depending on the height of the socks).

Since compression socks increase the amount of pressure on the legs, they help to improve circulation, which will help to circulate blood back to the heart in a timely manner, preventing it from pooling in the ankles and feet. Compression socks not only help to improve the circulation of blood, but they also help to prevent other types of fluids from getting trapped in and building up in the lower legs.

Compression socks can help to relieve some degree of pain that the swelling this condition causes almost immediately after you put them on. Many people report that they notice a marked increase in their comfort and a substantial decrease in the swelling in the legs and ankles, and in turn, they are able to move around a lot easier when they wear these socks.

How Long to Wear Compression Socks for Edema?

How Long Should You Wear Compression Socks for Edema?

So, how long should you wear compression socks for edema? It depends on your individual situation. Generally speaking, they can be worn for short periods of time and will provide positive effects; however, with you may be able to wear them all day, but before doing so, getting the approval of a health care provider is highly recommended.

Regardless of how long you wear them – whether for a short period of time or throughout the day – taking them off before bed it highly recommended. Wearing compression socks while sleeping can restrict blood flow and reduce circulation, which can lead to a variety of complications.

How to Wear Compression Socks for Edema

Use the following tips to ensure that you are wearing your compression socks correctly, and to reduce the swelling and pain caused by your edema:

  • Make sure to speak with your health care provider to confirm that the symptoms you are experiencing are, in fact, the result of edema.
  • Ask your health care provider if compression socks would be a beneficial way to treat edema, and if so, find out if you over-the-counter compression socks or prescription socks would provide the best results.
  • If over-the-counter socks are recommended, ask your health care professional to check them out before you start wearing them to ensure that they fit properly.
  • If possible, put your compression socks on as soon as you wake up, right after you get out of bed. If you cannot put them on immediately after awakening, put them on as soon as you possibly can. Swelling in the legs is at its lowest level in the morning, so you’ll have an easier time putting your compression socks on. The longer you wait, the more the swelling will increase, and the more swollen your legs, ankles, and feet are, the harder it will be to put on your compression socks.
  • To put on your compression socks, sit down on a chair that has a back. Hold the top of the sock with one hand, push the other arm through the sock, grab the toe, and pull it up. Position your toes in the toe of the sock, then roll the sock over your foot. Avoid pulling on the sock, as doing so could damage them.
  • Whether you are wearing your compression socks for a short period of time (upon waking up, for example), or throughout the day, be sure to take them off before going to bed. As mentioned, wearing compression socks while sleeping can reduce circulation and cause a number of health issues.