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Answer: Do Compression Socks Work?

Last Updated March 26, 2020

Do you need compression socks, and do compression socks work? This is the question that most users ask. To answer that, we discuss the working mechanism of compression socks and how to make it a success.

Standing for long hours or even just sitting at work may develop complications to your legs. It may not necessarily be fatal, but in most instances, your legs may get swollen restricting blood flow. You may notice your legs getting somewhat puffy and very much softer than usual.

In most cases, it causes discomfort and limits your ability to walk freely and lose the sensitivity of feet. Swollen legs may be an ordinary case of fatigue, but a closer look reveals that it is due to blood clotting within the veins. That is where compression stockings come in. This raises the most critical question for buyers if compression stockings really work.

Understanding The Mechanism Behind Compression Socks

The first approach to answer the question is to have a deeper understanding of the working mechanism of compression socks. The name primarily gives us a starting point, compression, meaning to exert pressure or force. So, the primary tool under this type of socks is exerting high amounts of pressure to legs muscles.

History of compression socks

Compression stockings were a discovery of a German engineer suffering from a varicose vein and found it to be effective. They are shreds of evidence that point to the existence of a similar garment as early as 5000 BCE. Early civilization points out that socks were first practiced as a recovery therapy for soldiers after the war. Other doctors used tight bandages to treat leg ulcers in the 1600s.

How a compression sock work

As discussed, when compression stockings are worn, force is applied to the leg, specifically to the ankle where there is a high degree. The compression is highest at the ankle and decreases upwards, creating a smooth upward flow of the upper body, the heart. This is opposed to blood flow direction downwards towards the leg’s superficial veins. Elementary mathematics application on pressure comes in handy in understanding this phenomenon. We learned that pressure is highest when the diameter is thin, so by the socks exerting pressure, the veins diameter reduces and thus the natural flow of blood. It is as simple as that.

Medical Point Of View About Compression Socks

Compression stockings have been tested and proven by certified medical practitioners to be useful for ensuring blood flow throughout the leg. It is a form of physical therapy to boost a constant circulation of blood throughout the leg area. Podiatrists, medical personnel who specialize in feet, give an account of how effective are compression socks. World Health Organization affirms the same and highly recommends compression stockings.

Blood circulation involves blood coming in and out of the heart, which is essential knowledge. Now fresh blood is circulated by arteries at high pressure to all the parts of the body; legs included that is.

 Deoxygenated blood from all parts of the body is transmitted back to the heart by veins at a lower pressure. Standing, sitting, or traveling for long hours causes blood to build up and the legs start to swell. Compression socks intervene blood pooling at the leg area by smoothing efficient blood return to the heart.

Circulatory disorders

Other than that, Compression stockings are primarily for treating other circulatory disorders in the leg region, such as varicose vein and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Of them all, DVT is quite serious, and doctors advise patients to stay clear from it at all costs.

Common disorders

In a nutshell, these facts should be able to answer the question if compression socks do work. But it does not harm to dig a little bit deeper to understand the surrounding factors that will make compression stockings a success. If you thought that wearing them will do it, we highly recommend you read the next part keenly.

What Makes Compression Socks A Success?

Ever worn tight shoes and walk with them the whole day? How was the feeling? It must have been discomforting and so tight, at some point you felt like removing them. The same applies to compression stockings if you pick the wrong fit, you have to select the right fit for you. It is far complicated than requesting a pair of ordinary socks online. The right fit of compression socks will make them be productive and carry out what they are supposed to.

There are specific facts that you should probably know before you buy them. Take it like doing a background check to see if it will work on you for the sake of your health. Let’s have a look at facts that you should consider before purchase.

Secret Of Fitness

The first step in ensuring that you get the right size is having your legs measured by a doctor. If a doctor may not be necessarily accessible, get your measurement at a medical supplies store. The best option is visiting a trained fitter to get your size, and he or she will advise you accordingly.

The other factor about fitness you need to look out for is quite simple, comfort. Compression socks should be comfortable on your legs. That is, if it is of the right fit, and if not satisfied, it is a sign that it is not a good fit for you. You might want to take that seriously; compression stockings should not create discomfort.

Right size

You should be able to distinguish different sizes of stockings. First up is the height of the socks, an essential factor. There are different height levels of socks; the essential is calf-high, which is the recommended compression height because of the simplicity in putting on and off. Then there’s low thigh and high thigh. Also, pick cute compression socks depending on gender.

Different compression stockings sizes

The Right Amount Of Pressure

To make stockings even more useful, choose the proper configuration of pressure. What is that? For starters, pressure configuration is the amount of pressure that the stockings will be applying to your ankle and calf. Those without any medical diagnosis but find themselves with puffy feet after long hours or work, travel, or standing are advised to use 15-20mmHg compression socks. For advanced swelling cases, the recommended pressure is 20-30mmHg. Meaning that 30mmHg is applied at the ankle, and 20mmHg at the calf.

Medical Considerations

Not everyone is an ideal fit for wearing compression socks. It is always advisable to seek counsels of a doctor before taking up the initiative to wear such socks. It might not be desirable to use compression stockings, especially if you have a not so good medical history. Certain factors eliminate someone from using compression socks; one of them is diabetes.

Swollen ankle

Are all people eligible for stockings?

People with diabetes suffer from complications with blood sugar levels, and tight garments may not be ideal unless specified by a doctor. The next category of individuals is those with open wounds on their feet. It is a known fact that open sores and wounds require oxygen and fresh air to heal. So, by covering, it hinders the recovery of such sores.

Third and foremost, are those individuals with skin-related complications. Some individuals suffer from skin irritation on several cloth types.

When To Wear Compression stockings?

The last factor that you might want to add to your list to ensure that those compression socks work is the frequency of wearing. Stockings should be worn when you wake up throughout the day and off when asleep. In some cases, the doctor might advise to wear them even asleep. But this has to be recommended by a doctor. Other than that, there is some medical condition that may hinder the effectiveness of compression stockings. The best and highly recommended is to seek first your doctor’s opinion.

In summary, compression socks are effective in preventing circulatory system defaults. They may be branded as travel socks or medical socks, bear in mind that it may just be terms. You, as the user, play a critical in ensuring that the compression gear works. You do this by being wise and follow the recommended path.