Compression socks, also called compression stockings, are snug, stretchy hosiery worn to increase proper blood flow in your legs.
They also prevent vein damage and skin ulcers. While it’s clear they offer positive health benefits, you shouldn’t wear compression socks until a vein doctor like Dr. Dmitry Gorelik of the Varicose Vein Center of New Jersey has completed a checkup. He has to rule out other medical issues before you can focus on wearing compression socks to improve your circulation.
The best compression hose is specifically fitted to your legs and purchased with a prescription. Although you can buy compression stockings over the counter at your neighborhood drug store, they may not provide you with the relief you’re seeking. In fact, they may actually cover up a deeper vein problem! That’s why you need a consultation with your vein doctor first.
The Benefits of Wearing Compression Socks
Wearing compression socks is usually one of the first treatment options that your vein specialist recommends for you. It’s a conservative, non-invasive approach that nonetheless offers a host of benefits, including these top five. Compression stockings:
- Encourage your blood to flow back to your heart. Wearing compression socks gives the veins in your feet, ankles and legs a bit of a break by using outside pressure to push the blood to circulate back to your heart. The socks prevent blood from pooling.
- Ease swelling in your feet, ankles and legs. Compression stockings help prevent fluid from getting backed up in the tissue surrounding the veins. Backed-up fluid can be very painful, and it’s what leads to swelling.
- Prevent varicose and spider veins. Varicose veins and spider veins form when damaged blood vessels aren’t able to adequately transport blood back to the heart. When this occurs, blood pools or flows backward in your veins, causing the vein walls to bulge and discolor, creating unsightly lines on the surface of your skin. Wearing compression socks helps prevent vein damage and encourages proper circulation.
- Reduce risks of venous ulcer formation. Venous stasis ulcers form from a build-up of blood in a damaged vein, leading to shallow, painful wounds. Compression socks relieve the pain incurred from the damage and prevent further deterioration.
- Improve lymphatic drainage. Lymph is a fluid that transports white blood cells where needed throughout your body and helps rid your body of toxins. If the lymph circulation isn’t working properly, lymph fluid can pool around tissues in your ankles and feet, causing painful swelling. Wearing compression socks prevents this fluid backup and helps force lymph to circulate properly.
Types of Compression Stockings
Lymphatic and venous insufficiencies have proven to benefit greatly from compression therapy. But there are three types of compression stockings, and each serves a different purpose. The three main types of compression stockings include:
- Non-medical support hose. You can buy this type of compression stockings over-the-counter at your local drug store. They’re common choices for frequent airline travelers. But they’re best reserved for when your legs are just tired or achy because they’re not sufficient to treat vein damage.
- Graduated compression stockings. These are tightest near your foot and ankle and get gradually looser
- as they extend up your leg. Graduated compression socks require a fitting, but they work well to treat chronic venous conditions.
- Anti-embolism compression stockings. This type of compression socks also provides graduated compression, but they’re designed for people who are bedridden and non-ambulatory. These stockings are often recommended to prevent a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a dangerous condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Very few risks are associated with compression hosiery. They may be uncomfortable if poorly fitted, but you shouldn’t expect any complications. If you have an allergic reaction to the material, you may just need to try a different brand.
When to Wear Compression Socks
Your doctor’s prescribed treatment for wearing compression socks varies depending on the severity of your condition. His instructions usually include a list of the best times to wear your compression socks. For example, you may only need to wear them for a few hours each day. Your doctor may suggest not wearing compression socks to bed. Conversely, he may advise you to wear them around the clock, except when bathing of course.
Compression socks have become very popular with athletes seeking to improve performance and reduce muscle soreness after strenuous activities. If you’re an amateur athlete or consistent runner, check with your vein specialist before using compression socks. Ensure your safety and be fully informed about how and when it’s best to use compression stockings.
Bring all your questions and vein concerns to the Varicose Vein Center of New Jersey. Talk with an expert who provides an accurate assessment of whether compression socks are right for your vein health and your lifestyle.
Call for an appointment today!212.389.1326