Compression Socks for Women: The Guide You Need to Read

Wondering why do you need compression socks?

Do you want to keep comfortable this winter season but don’t know what to look for? For women, compression socks are specially designed hosiery worn for different reasons, looking similar to normal tights or leggings. When designed for men too, you’ll see compression socks worn by women usually from the knee down. They are made with a unique material for maximum compression, usually tighter around the ankles, and decreasing as it goes up the thighs. No matter your age, activity level, or mobility, wearing soft compression socks, in general, can be beneficial to your overall health.

These socks for women are comfortable and can help you do better in sports, and more importantly, they help prevent serious medical conditions. These conditions usually have something to do with venous disorders such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), phlebitis, and edema. Medically, compression sock is usually recommended to people who are at risk of these venous disorders. For example, post-surgery patients who are immobile or bed-ridden would need compression stockings to help keep the blood flow going and prevent blood clots in the area. The formation of blood clots is what leads to the development of venous disorders.

How do Women’s Compression Socks Work?

The calves are said to be the second heart of the body. This is due to its action in pumping blood in the legs back towards the heart. Compression stockings for women help with the gravitational pull of blood back to the heart by creating pressure in the region. Without the stockings, the blood at the feet will also move but at a much slower pace, causing it to pool at the feet. The formation of blood clots will also begin to appear. The compressing action of the stockings reduces the diameter of veins and promotes the velocity of blood flow and valve effectiveness. This prevents venous stasis and relieves heavy, sore legs.

Compression socks that you can buy

Why do you Need Compression Socks?

Adding a pair of these to your medical kit can do wonders for your health. They serve the following basic purposes:

1. Reduces swelling:

If your body has developed swelling, especially in the legs, women’s compression stockings can help to alleviate the pain. The swollen areas of the leg can sometimes be painful, but compression socks bring it under control and increase the circulation of blood to that area to ensure fast healing. Patients with diabetes are highly prone to have swollen legs. Ones ranging from 15 to 20 mmHg will be sufficient. 

2. Increasing blood circulation:

Some medical conditions cut off proper blood supply to the legs. If you suffer from the peripheral arterial disease (PAD), peripheral vascular disease (PVD), or varicose veins, you will notice that your legs are not functioning like usual. When the blood circulation is not smooth, the legs can lose their power. If you wear compression socks for women, the blood will again be delivered to the affected areas, and this will also relieve pain. Make sure that you use ones of the same pressure and size as recommended by your doctor – these should feel comfortable against your legs. They should not be too tight, or else they can impede the blood circulation further. 

3. Pain relief:

If you want your legs to have an additional layer of support, then these are the way to go. They are able to minimize pain, which arises due to weak or tired legs. In case you are dealing with fatigue, spasms, and sprains caused by rigorous exercise, compression socks can reduce the pain. Athletes are used to wearing compression socks to boost their endurance and provide some extra support to the calves and thighs. This will also prevent sores from developing by protecting the ankles, shins, hamstrings, knees, calves, and thighs.

Long Compression socks

Types of Womens Compression Socks

Wondering what the top type of compression socks are? What should you know when it comes to choosing one? Here is a look.

Graduated Compression socks

Graduated compression socks and stockings are designed for mobility and required to meet medical specifications in terms of length and strength. The level of compression for these types of stockings is the strongest at the ankle and it decreases towards the top. They are usually customized, person to person. Manufacturers also offer other features such as colour or choice of an open or closed-toe.

Peripheral oedema or swelling of the lower leg due to fluid build-up can be prevented with stockings that end just below the knee. Whereas orthostatic hypotension or pooling of blood can be prevented by stockings that extend to the thigh or waist.

Anti-embolism stockings

Anti-embolism stockings are designed for people who aren’t mobile such as bedridden patients or patients in wheelchairs. They also provide a gradient compression with varying levels of compression.

Non-medical support hosiery

These do not require a prescription and can be found in any pharmacies. They provide uniform compression and are less tight than the other two types. They provide potential relief for tired, aching legs for people who are sitting or on their feet all day.

The Fit:

Compression socks come in a variety of lengths and sizes. There thigh-high, knee-high, and full-length women’s compression socks available on the market. Ideally, doctors recommend that you should wear knee-high stockings in case there is some swelling below the knee. You can wear full-length or thigh-high stockings when the swelling is situated above the knee. They should neither be too tight nor too loose. 

There is no standard sizing measurement when it comes to women’s compression socks. Different brands follow different size guides. So, it is better that you use your body measurements and correspond them to a brand’s sizing pattern to find the perfect size for yourself. When you want knee-high socks, you will need measurements from your ankle till your calf. If you want thigh-high or full-length stockings, measure the entire length and width of the leg at all the junctures.

Graduated and anti-embolism women’s compression socks are mostly available in thigh-high and knee-high length. Usually, knee-high stockings are the first choice for preventing DVT as they are more comfortable and simpler to wear. Patients find it easier to get on board with the treatment system. On the other hand, thigh-length stockings are perfect for athletes as long as they fit well.

Women’s Compression Stockings: What Should You Know?

Women’s compression stockings come in different levels of compression and are measured as mmHg. Over-the-counter stockings are usually available from 10 to 20 mmHg. For anything higher than 20 mmHg, you will require a prescription and a trained fitter. These can range from 20 to 50+ mmHg. For custom made, flat knitted products, pressure levels can range from 18 to 50 mmHg.

Stockings offering 8-15 mmHg compression usually give light support and pressure. The 15-20 mmHg compression stockings are great for providing a medium degree of support. They can be used in case of minor swelling, but have a temporary effect more often than not. If the doctor recommends 20-30 mmHg stockings, it means that your condition requires firm compression. These stockings are widely used to prevent DVT after major surgeries. For added compression, patients have to use 30-40 mmHg stockings, but they should be professionally fitted. Doctors can also recommend 40-50 mmHg women’s compression socks to patients whose conditions are grave. A unit called the Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) denotes whether there is sufficient blood flow in the legs.

Precautions

Women’s compression socks can help them lead a normal life. However, don’t forget these few tips when getting one for yourself.

  • Inadequate compression of the stockings will cause the patients to achieve undesired results. On the other hand, excessive compression can lead to other complications such as hyper-pigmentation, lipodermatosclerosis, or stasis dermatitis. As a result, you need to look for the proper fitting.
  • Smooth it out and avoid bunching.
  • Try to wear these in the morning as the swelling is usually low.
  • Apply lotion before putting them on as they are very tight and can be hard to maneuver.
  • Do not wear compression socks in the shower or bath.
  • To keep your socks fresh and free from bacteria, you can opt for antibacterial ones. If not, you can also easily wash the socks with soap after every use and make sure they’re completely dry before putting them on again.
  • Patients with peripheral arterial disease should stay away from these.

Symptoms of Incompatibility:

It might happen that the very first pair of compression socks that you get does not work out for you. If the compression socks do not fit your legs well, you might notice one or more of the following signs and symptoms after you wear them for a few hours.

  • Itchiness
  • Tingling sensations
  • Excessive tightness
  • Profuse sweating
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Numbness and lack of sensation
  • Bruising
  • Lack of proper blood circulation
  • Restricted movements

Inform your physician immediately, so as to get the women’s compression socks readjusted properly depending on your comfort. You can mention the specifications you want, and a pair will be recommended accordingly.

Medical Uses for Womens Compression Socks

Oedema

Oedema, or swollen ankles, feet, and legs occur due to a build-up of fluids in a particular area. If a person is standing or sitting in the same position for too long, these fluids eventually pool up at the feet, causing it to swell. Compression socks help to promote the flow of fluid around the body.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Occurring mostly in the lower leg or thigh, DVT is a blood clot that forms due to prolonged standing or sitting. This condition can be severe as the clot can dislodge and travel to other parts of the body, causing pulmonary embolism or even an aneurysm. Wearing women’s compression socks will help by regulating constant blood flow and preventing a clot from forming in the first place.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are the pooling of blood in damaged veins and capillaries, causing them to appear larger and be visible on the outside. It can occur in other parts of the body but appears most visibly in the legs. Compression therapy is usually the recommended action of treatment.

Pregnancy

Leg veins can be affected by hormones released during pregnancy and the expansion of the uterus. Many physicians and specialists recommend wearing women’s compression socks during pregnancy to reduce volumetric variations during standing hours.

Chronic venous insufficiency

This condition occurs when the veins are unable to pump deoxygenated blood to the heart. Wearing women’s compression socks can regulate the movement of the blood, making sure that the organs function properly.

Lymphedema

If a body part develops swelling because of excessive accumulation of lymph fluid, the condition is called lymphedema. This occurs when the drainage process of lymph fluid into the blood is hindered. There is swelling in the legs, but it can be curbed by using women’s compression socks. You will love the sock.

Phlebitis

When a leg vein develops clotting and inflammation due to some kind of infection or trauma, the condition is called phlebitis. Patients with varicose veins are more vulnerable to phlebitis than others. The inflammation happens all of a sudden, and the thrombus adheres to the vein wall. Wearing compression stockings is recommended to bring the situation under control.

Lipodermatosclerosis

When there is inflammation of subcutaneous fat, doctors advise patients to use these socks for women for the reduction of the swelling.

Non-medical uses for socks for women

Besides medical uses for compression stockings, they can also be worn for the prevention of venous disorders or simply just to feel comfortable and prevent aches and sores. They alleviate pain and prevent swollen ankles by regulating blood flow. Here are some examples of people who should wear compression stockings for prevention.

Sit all day at work

For people who are sitting all day, the natural circulation process becomes less efficient, resulting in fatigue and blood pooling in your legs. Anyone with desk jobs or other jobs that require sitting for multiple hours a day can fight the negative effects of prolonged sitting by wearing compression socks and moving around every 30 minutes.

Stand all day at work

Standing for prolonged hours causes discomfort, fatigue, and varicose veins. Movement encourages more blood flow to the heart. Standing is as equally bad as sitting as it reduces the blood flow back to the heart. This is why trade workers, cashiers, nurses and hospitality staff are all great candidates for compression socks. Your legs feel less fatigued and you’ll have more energy after work.

You exercise regularly

Although studies show little to no effect of compression stockings on athletic performance, most athletes swear by it. Runners, basketball players, etc suggests that it promotes better blood flow during activity, bringing more oxygen to the muscles, and preventing tissue damage. Wearing compression socks after a workout, however, it has been proven to promote recovery as it reduces lactic acid build-up in the muscles.

You travel a lot

Prolonged sitting on flights is the same as having a desk job that requires sitting for multiple hours. It might lead to DVT. Wearing compression socks can minimize feet and ankle swelling.

Conclusion

Compression stockings are great for medical and non-medical uses. It is great in promoting blood flow from your lower extremities to the heart. Should you be prescribed compression stockings, ensure that they are fitted properly so that it does the job well. If you want the compression stockings to serve their purpose, you must follow all the instructions and remember to use them regularly.

They must also be put on properly and for the recommended duration as prescribed by your physician accordingly. Any skin changes around the area that comes in contact with the stockings might be the result of an allergy and you should consult with your doctor immediately.