Are You Falling Down the Compression Socks and Stockings Rabbit Hole Looking for the Best Solution?
When you search “best treatment for varicose veins” or “best compression stockings for varicose veins” on Google, all kinds of remedies show up on the search results pages, including tinctures, treatments, and the least invasive- compression stockings and socks. Then before you know it, you are falling down the “compression stockings/compression socks” rabbit hole and researching all kinds of them trying to find the best, most effective pair. There you are, reading article after article hoping to compile the most accurate information you can find to figure out which pair to spend your money on. Well, we’re going to give you a break…since you landed here, we’re going to save you the fuss of going through 20 or 30 articles that are next on your list, because this is the best compression stockings/compression socks guide for you.
First off… What Are Compression Stockings and Compression Socks?
Compression stockings and compression socks are medical aides designed to effectively alleviate or improve the pressure on the lower limb veins and venous valves to move blood circulation upwards to prevent blood clots. Simply put, they act as a non-evasive decompression treatment to help prevent diseases associated with poor lower limb blood circulation.
Many People Use Compression Socks to Combat Diseases Such As:
- Venous reflux disease (Chronic venous insufficiency)
- Varicose veins
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
What Are Compression Socks Made of that Make Them Effective?
Compression stockings and compression socks are knitted from a variety of materials such as nylon, cotton, spandex, and natural rubber microfibers to create a sheer material that allows the skin to breathe in all kinds of conditions. Some premium ones have silver textile threads woven into them, which provide anti-microbial protection. The fibers for compression socks are produced in different combinations and thicknesses depending on the desired elasticity, softness and appearance. The fabric content, compression level, feel, and appearance are all factors in determining the final stocking, socks or pantyhose design to meet its purpose.
**Be careful about wearing compression stockings on a daily basis because:
Compression socks are knitted with higher denier units, which is why they are more durable compared to compression stockings. Although compression stockings are very different from your day-to-day wear stockings, they can easily get damaged like ordinary stockings. Therefore, be careful while putting on boots or any shoes that require zipping. And watch your fingernails, too! Fight through scratching that itch if you don’t want to burn through 30 pairs of compression stockings every month. But, if your goal is to construct the tallest building on your legs with compression stockings as your canvas, then go right ahead.
Variations of Types and Lengths of Compression Stockings:
Compression socks and stockings come in all different colors and different lengths to complement any kind of outfit you are wearing. For example, some types of compression socks include knee-high, thigh-high, pantyhose, close-toe, open-toe, etc. Color-wise, the most common compression socks come in neutral colors like nude, black and white.
How Long Should You Wear Compression Socks For?
If we can give you one piece of advice about compression stockings or socks, it’s to not overwear them on a daily basis. Compression stockings are meant to replace your ordinary stockings while up and walking around to help promote better blood circulation. However, wearing them too long will create an opposite effect on your body, it will actually further constrict your blood circulation. Therefore, limit your compression stocking wear to 8-10 hours a day and take them off when you go to bed.
What Is The Difference Between These Two?
Compression Socks vs Compression Stockings
When searching online for compression wear, you might find yourself getting lost between compression stockings and compression socks. What’s the difference between the two?
Both types function by the same principle. They are both medical aides that help treat venous reflux disease, varicose veins, and other related diseases associated with poor blood circulation on the lower extremities without having to go through surgeries. The only difference between the two is the thickness and sheerness of the material. As literal as it could be, compression socks have sock-like textures and compression stockings inherit the sheerness of ordinary stockings or hosiery. As you can imagine, compression stockings are catered to women while both men and women use compression socks.
What Is The Science Behind Compression Socks/Stockings to Help Combat Poor Circulation-Induced Diseases?
Compression socks and stockings work like this: they put evenly-distributed pressure on your lower limbs, gently squeezing your legs to accelerate blood flow and circulation, in turn preventing blood clots and swelling. Compression socks work to improve circulation up and down the entirety of your legs, especially important if you are recovering from surgery or have limited mobility.
Unfortunately, many people nowadays care more about how many likes they get from their Saturday brunch photos on Facebook than having healthy blood circulation. But maintaining healthy blood circulation is one of the keys to preventing many monstrous diseases from showing up out of nowhere and knocking you down, some as serious as strokes or heart attacks.
A Quick, Very Scientific Look on Why That Is:
Here’s what happens with your body’s circulation: Blood is pushed through the body by the heart pumping it through the veins, helped by the rhythmic movement of smooth muscle in the vessel wall and skeletal muscle as the body moves. Since most veins must move blood against the pull of gravity, blood can’t flow backwards through its one-way valves. Luckily, skeletal muscle movement helps venous blood flow, which is why it is important to get up and move frequently after long periods of sitting so that blood will not pool in your lower extremities.
Normal valves vs damaged valves have a huge impact on blood circulation:
Once your muscle contractions start to become weak and your venous valves become damaged, they can’t function the way they should to help pump blood to flow back to the heart against gravity. And when your blood flow is disrupted, your heart will not get enough oxygen (let alone effectively distribute oxygen to your brain, which is why sometimes you may feel lightheaded when you stand up). Over time, this disrupted blood flow can cause a handful of damages to your body and lets you know in a variety of diseases, some more severe than others.
More of what happens when damaged vein valves prevent blood from flowing upwards:
The most common reaction of blood not flowing upwards properly is venous reflux disease. Long hours of standing and sitting at any one time are the number one cause of varicose veins and venous reflux. When your body fails to move blood towards your heart, then it goes backwards and pools in the vein, causing them to stretch or twist. And when the condition does not improve, it starts to become visible underneath the skin resulting in varicose veins.
Varicose veins appear swollen and twisted, commonly caused by blood stasis and weak vessel walls. They can also occur in various parts of the body besides the legs. They might appear as clusters of blue or purple veins visible underneath the skin and are sometimes surrounded by thin red capillaries known as spider veins. Although varicose veins can show up in different parts of the body, it occurs most often in the lower extremities (it’s also worth noting that varicose veins are secondary manifestations of other lesions).
How They Look Like:
Symptoms of varicose veins:
- Veins appear dark purple or blue in color.
- The superficial blood vessels protrude prominently from the skin and the varices are lumpy or nodular.
- Swelling in the legs, discoloration, desquamation (peeling skin), itchy skin, and edema in the ankles.
- Experiencing various sensations on the lower extremities like itchiness, numbness, acanthesthesia (tingling), muscle cramping, and burning.
- The temperature of your skin rising and causing tenderness in the lower extremities.
- The diagnosis or appearance of gangrene and ulcers around a varicose vein.
What Is The Best Treatment?
Prevention is the best treatment. Yes, the best. We can keep sharing more scientific medical facts to urge you into states of worrying, but what we really want to do is just remind you the importance of maintaining healthy blood circulation on the lower extremities by taking care of yourself.
Don’t get us wrong…we know it’s hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle when most of the job activities these days require people to either stand or sit for long extended periods of time. And when you are done with your long workday, you’re tired and it’s hard to be motivated to go work out. However, you still need to try your best to make the effort to hit the gym to make sure all the nuts and bolts in your body are in place to maintain healthy blood circulation. So, now you are thinking, “Time for that? Kill me, please!”
This is where compression socks/stockings come in handy. As mentioned above, they are medical devices proven to be effective in combating varicose veins and are also tailored to different needs and compression levels, from everyday wear compression that helps relieve swelling and aching of the legs to medical-grade compression level to treat severe venous stasis.
Here’s a Simple Compression Levels Guide:
Compression stockings and compression socks come in four compression levels that are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Compression levels are indicated with a range of numbers like “20-30 mmHg”, which means that the amount of compression will not fall below 20 mmHg and not exceed 30 mmHg.
15-20 mmHg– Ones You Find Over the Counter at Common Drugstores
- For the prevention and relief of minor to moderate varicose and spider veins
- Helps relieve tired, aching legs, and minor swelling of feet, ankles, and legs
- Helps prevent varicose veins and spider veins during pregnancy
- Helps prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis, also known as Economy Class Syndrome
- Used in post sclerotherapy treatment to help prevent the reappearance of varicose veins and spider veins
- Ideal compression level used for those traveling long distances and sitting for a long period of time
This low compression level is suitable for everyday wear and helps with mild swelling and fatigued legs due to long periods of standing, sitting and traveling. It is a popular choice for office assistants, flight attendants, teachers, frequent travelers, etc.
20-30 mmHg– Medical Grade Class I Prescribed By a Doctor
- Helps prevent and relieve moderate to severe varicose veins (also used during pregnancy)
- For post-surgical and post sclerotherapy treatment to help prevent the reappearance of varicose and spider veins
- Helps in the treatment of moderate to severe edema or lymphatic edema
- Helps with the management of active ulcers and manifestations of Post-Thrombotic syndromes
- Helps relieve superficial thrombophlebitis
- Helps prevent Orthostatic Hypotension (or Postural Hypotension)
- Helps prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis, also known as Economy Class Syndrome
The 20-30 mmHg level of compression is the first level of medical-grade compression socks. And it’s the most widely used because it provides competent compression to your legs without being too much. This level is suitable for varicose veins patients, people recovering from venous surgery and also pregnant women during the third trimester.
30-40 mmHg– Medical Grade Class II Prescribed By a Doctor
- Helps prevent and relieve severe varicose veins
- Used in the treatment of severe edema and lymphedema
- Used in post-surgical and post sclerotherapy treatment to help prevent the reappearance of varicose and spider veins
- Helps reduce the symptoms of Orthostatic Hypotension (or Post-Thrombotic Syndrome)
- For the management of Venous Ulcers and manifestations of Post-Thrombotic Syndrome
- Prevents Deep Vein Thrombosis, also known as Economy Class Syndrome
The 30-40 mmHg level of compression is a stronger medical grade class II that is recommended for moderate to severe leg health problems. It is great for patients with lymphedema, severe varicose veins, venous reflux disease, and deep vein thrombosis.
40-50 mmHg– Medical Grade Class III Prescribed By a Doctor
- Acute leg/Ankle swelling
- Varicose veins
- Chronic vein insufficiency
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
The 40-50 mmHg level of compression provides the strongest compression level and it is not for regular ordinary use. It is best to consult a doctor before considering using this level of compression, primarily used to treat severe venous stasis, wound management, and lymphedema.
How to Choose the Best Compression Socks/Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins
We’ve basically covered all the bases of compression stockings and socks from their lengths, types, material, and functions to the different compression levels. These are all the factors you need to take into consideration while choosing the best pair for yourself, especially when you’re wearing them to treat and prevent varicose veins. Here’s a quick summary of what we covered and some additional tips:
1. Material- Read the full details of what you are purchasing and choose breathable fabrics.
Make sure the compression stockings and compression socks you buy are made out of quality material. If they are produced by unreliable manufacturers that use poor quality materials, it can cause irritations to your skin and worse. They can even cause gynecological diseases if you are wearing bad compression pantyhose! So it’s best that you check the full details of the product before purchasing to avoid any potential allergic reaction. Don’t sacrifice quality for price.
2. Lengths- Choose the length that best suits you and your day-to-day activities.
If you are a sophisticated businesswoman, flight attendant or office assistant, chances are you may opt from time to time to wear a skirt or a dress to look sharp and professional. In that case, wearing compression pantyhose would make more sense than wearing knee-high compression stockings. On the other hand, if you are a sexy momma that is currently having your second baby, it would make more sense to wear knee-high or thigh-high compression stockings that are suited more for functionality or looks. There isn’t a right or wrong answer to what length you should go for as long as you are comfortable… you know what’s best for you. 😗
3. Good reviews– Purchase through reputable channels.
Avoid buying compression socks or stockings that are priced extremely low because chances are the quality will not be enough for what you are looking for. Go through reviews and ratings of the socks, stockings, or products you are interested in prior to handing over your credit card information. If the average star rating of the product on Amazon is only three-and-a-half stars, then you know it’s probably best to purchase through a more reputable company. It is best to know what you’re getting into, especially when your health depends on it.
4. Compression level– Knowing your health condition is the key.
Wearing compression stockings and compression socks are beneficial to your health but it’s also important to know what the right compression level is for you- it’s the key to achieving the health benefits you are looking for. Too low of the compression and your socks won’t help at all; too high of the compression level and it will cause harm to your body if your health condition is not prepared to take on that amount of pressure.
Summary of This Ultimate Compression Socks Guide
We hope the information above can help you in choosing the compression socks or stockings that suit you the best and help you prevent and treat varicose veins effectively. Prevention is the best treatment for any disease. So, let’s start today by getting a pair today! ❤️