What Are The Benefits of Compression Socks?

From avoiding and preventing achy, tired legs, to preventing and reducing swelling, and even averting the development of varicose veins, blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), compression socks provide a wealth of benefits. In fact, numerous studies have confirmed that compression stockings are highly beneficial in a wide variety of individuals.

If you’re thinking about giving compression socks a try or your health care provider has recommended them, but you aren’t quite convinced and aren’t sure if they’re worth the investment, read on to learn more about the benefits that compression socks can provide and how they can help to improve your overall health and well-being.

What Are The Benefits of Compression Socks?

What Are Compression Socks, Anyway?

Before we dive in and discuss the benefits that compression socks can provide, let’s start by explaining what these garments are.

Compression socks (also referred to as “stockings”) are a type of therapeutic garment. They’re made of durable synthetic materials, such as Lycra or spandex, and are specially constructed in such a way so that they apply gradated pressure to the legs, ankles, and feet; either they apply more pressure at the foot and the pressure decreases as they move up the leg, or they apply more pressure to the top portion of the legs and the pressure decreases as the sock moves down toward the foot.

Compression socks are available in an assortment of styles and sizes. They’re also designed to provide varying levels of pressure. They can be closed-footed, open-toed, or a footless tight, of sorts. They can be ankle-, knee-, thigh-, or waist-high. The level of pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), and the measurement is classified in categories: 8 to 15 mmHg are considered mild, 15 to 20 mmHg are moderate, 20 to 30 mmHg are considered firm, and 30 to 40 mmHg are classified as extra firm. Firm and extra-firm compression stockings require a prescription and have to be specially fitted, designed, and constructed, and lighter grades can be purchased over-the-counter.

How Do Compression Socks Work?

Compression socks apply pressure to the leg, ankle, and/or foot. The pressure that they apply helps to enhance circulation. In order for blood to be transported back to the heart where it can be re-oxygenated, the veins in the legs need to work against gravity. The longer you stand on your legs or sit in a sedentary position, the more pressure is applied to the veins, and the harder they have to work against gravity. This can lead to swelling, pain, aching, and the development of more severe conditions, such as varicose veins, and blood clots.

Because compression stockings apply pressure to the area they are applied to, they help to promote better circulation. As such, they can help to prevent blood and fluid from pooling in the legs, while thigh- and waist-high compression stockings can also help to deter orthostatic hypotension.

What Are The Benefits of Compression Socks?

The Benefits of Compression Socks

So, what kind of benefits do compression socks provide? A lot! As mentioned, numerous studies have confirmed that wearing these stockings can offer a wealth of benefits. Here’s a look at just some of the most notable advantages that this therapeutic hosiery can provide.

  • Swelling reduction and prevention. As described above, compression socks promote better circulation, which in turn helps to reduce and prevent swelling. Since the veins in the legs have to combat gravity, they are constantly under a great deal of pressure, and this pressure is even greater in individuals who stand for long periods of time. This pressure can weaken the veins, which can reduce blood flow, and as a result, blood can pool in the veins and fluid can accumulate in the tissues. When that happens, swelling – medically referred to as “edema” – can occur. The enhanced circulation that compression stockings provide means that they can reduce and prevent swelling.
  • Reduced pain. The swelling that is associated with edema, which is caused by poor circulation, can lead to pain. The build-up of fluid and blood in the legs places pressure on the nerves, and that pressure can lead to pain. In severe cases, the pain can be so severe that it can limit mobility. Thanks to the improved circulation and reduced swelling that compression socks provide, they can also help to minimize pain and discomfort.
  • Deep vein thrombosis prevention. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), also referred to as venous thrombosis, is a condition that is marked by blood clots that form within the deep veins; most commonly in the legs. DVT is a serious condition, as part of the blood clot can break off, travel through the bloodstream, and get lodged in a vital organ, such as the heart or the brain, which could result in a heart attack or stroke. The consistent pressure that compression socks apply to the veins in the legs can help to prevent DVT and the serious and potentially fatal conditions that it can cause.
  • Varicose vein, spider vein, and chronic venous insufficiency prevention. Compression stockings are often used to treat venous insufficiency, a condition that occurs when the vein walls age and stretch out, or faulty valves. When they are functioning properly, the valves open and allow blood to flow to the heart and immediately close, preventing the blood from flowing backward. When the valves are faulty, varicose and spider veins can occur. Compression socks can help to support blood circulation, which in turn helps to prevent varicose and spider veins.
  • Diabetes management. Believe it or not, compression stockings can also be effective in the treatment of diabetes. Diabetics are prone to DVT, peripheral edema, and venous insufficiency. Compression socks help to maintain effective circulation. Furthermore, due to poor circulation, diabetics can lose the feeling in their feet, which can result in the development of wounds that can go unnoticed. If left untreated, these wounds can become life-threatening. Diabetic compression socks, which are made with additional padding, can help to minimize friction and the formation of blisters in the feet that can cause potentially deadly wounds.