Has a loved one recently suffered an illness or undergone a surgery that has left them bed-ridden? Do you suffer from chronic swelling and pain in your legs? Have you been diagnosed with a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a clotting disorder that has increased your risk for DVT? Do you have varicose veins or leg ulcers?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, your healthcare professional (or your loved one’s healthcare professional) may have suggested the use of compression socks. But what are compression socks? How do they differ from traditional socks? What benefits do they provide? Do they really work? To find the answers to these questions and more – and to determine whether or not they’re worthwhile – keep on reading.
What Are Compression Socks, Anyway?
Compression socks are specially made socks that are designed to increase blood flow, reduce pain, and prevent swelling in the legs and ankles. The look similar to a standard pair of socks; however, as the name “compression” implies, they are tighter than traditional socks. The pressure these socks apply to the legs is mild, and that mild pressure helps direct the blood up from the legs and back to the heart, where it is recirculated.
When someone has circulatory issues, or if they’re in a situation where they are going to be sedentary for a prolonged period of time (bed-ridden, wheelchair bound, etc.), blood cannot travel through the body as easily. As such, the blood will pool up in the legs, ankles, and/or feet, which can result in a variety of health issues, some of which can be severe.
Compression socks are available in an assortment of sizes, colors, lengths, and designs, which can make it hard to distinguish compression socks from standard socks. Thanks to their high degree of elasticity, they are able to fit on any foot or leg.
Who Would Benefit from Wearing Compression Socks?
If any of the following apply to you, compression socks may be beneficial:
Who Should Avoid Compression Socks?
With very few exceptions, there’s usually very little harm associated with wearing compression socks; however, it’s still a good idea to speak with a healthcare professionals before wearing them. With that said, if one of the following applies to you, you should avoid using compression socks:
Types of Compression Socks
Whether you’re wearing them to increase blood flow, reduce swelling, support the veins, or minimize pain, you want to make sure that you select the right type of compression socks. There are three main types of compression socks, which can be divided into one of the following categories:
All three styles of compression socks are available in a variety of colors and designs. Additionally, their length can vary; they can come up to just above the ankle, just under the knees, or above the knees.
The Benefits of Compression Socks
While everyone is different and the experience will vary from one person to another, the following are some of the potential benefits that compression socks can provide: