Whether you’ve just discovered your first varicose vein appearing on your legs, you’ve got quite a few, or you don’t have any and you want to keep it that way–it’s time to consider wearing compression socks.
Varicose veins and spider veins can not only be painful, but they can be hazardous to your health.
They may appear due to spending a lot of time on your feet, or you may simply be predisposed to them genetically. In any case, compression socks may just be the answer that you’ve been looking for!
What Are Varicose Veins?
Before we can understand how compression stockings work for varicose veins, let’s take a closer look at this condition.
Varicose veins are swollen and twisted veins caused by weak vessel walls and which leads to pooling of blood in certain areas. These can occur in various parts of the body but are most common in the legs, due to the effects of gravity on the blood.
Varicose veins 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.
These types of veins can not only be unsightly for the person who wants to wear shorts and skirts, but they can also be rather uncomfortable and even painful.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins:
- Veins appear to be dark purple or blue in color
- Superficial blood vessels protrude prominently from the skin (like earthworms) and are lumpy or nodular
- Swelling in the legs, discoloration, desquamation, itching of the skin, and edema in the ankles
- Various sensations in the lower extremities like itchiness, numbness, muscle cramping, and burning
- The temperature of the epidermis may rise and cause tenderness in the lower extremities
- Risk of gangrene and ulcers around a varicose vein
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are developed due to disrupted blood circulation, causing the blood to clot or pool in the vein in certain areas that are weaker.
As the blood flows from the feet back up to the heart, it must work against gravity and this can be challenging. People who have a tendency toward weak vein structure may find that the blood vessels simply can’t fight against gravity, the valve tends to collapse, and blood will have a tendency to flow backward and pool which creates the unsightly veins.
One of the most common causes of varicose veins developing is prolonged standing on a daily basis, which puts pressure on the veins in the legs.
Compression stockings/socks and other compression gear was created to combat diseases caused by poor blood circulation in the legs, one of the most common of which is Varicose Veins.
What are Compression Stockings?
The most important thing about compression socks is that they put pressure on the legs from the outside in order to stimulate blood flow and prevent the negative effects of gravity on the presence of fluid.
Compression stockings/socks are knitted from a variety of materials such as:
or other materials that naturally stretch.
Many of them consist of microfibers to create a sheer material that allows the skin to breathe in the best conditions while some premium ones have silver textile threads woven into them, which provide anti-microbial protection.
These fibers are produced in different combinations and thicknesses depending on the desired elasticity, softness and appearance of the hosiery. The fabric content, compression level, feel and appearance largely determine the purpose or use of the final stockings, socks or pantyhose products.
How do Compression Stockings Help Varicose Veins?
Graduated compression stockings/socks establish the highest compression pressure around the ankle and then the pressure is reduced as the sock moves up the leg. This is meant to fight against gravity and promote the pushing of blood and other fluids back up toward the body and the heart. This pressure from the outside of the sock gives extra support to the veins, keeping the valves from collapsing and promoting healthy blood flow.
Compression socks are most effective in the prevention of varicose veins before they start.
People who have jobs where they are on their feet a lot, or those who have a genetic tendency toward varicose veins, will benefit from wearing compression socks even if they don’t have varicose veins yet.
People who already have varicose veins will not likely find a cure from compression socks, but they will find relief from pain and discomfort.
In addition, the appearance of the knotty, colored veins will be improved.
Not only are compression stockings/socks the heroes of both prevention and the treatment of varicose veins, but they also are highly efficient in treating other conditions associated with poor leg health.
Conditions such as:
- Edema (Leg Swelling, especially in pregnancy)
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Athletic Injuries
Other than treating the above conditions, compression stockings/socks are also very useful tools in preventing aches and pains that come from being on your feet for long periods of time, but they must be worn preventatively.
Compression socks are used by millions of people in the world, regardless of gender, occupation, and age.
With or without varicose veins, just about anyone could benefit from giving compression socks a try. As mentioned above, they are not only for patients suffering from poor leg health. Athletes, pilots, hairdressers, nurses, waitresses, avid travelers, and many other people may benefit from the use of compression socks.
Types and Lengths of Compression Stockings
Many types and lengths of compression stockings are available on the market today, each serving various needs of the user.
open-toe/close-toe compression stockings,
and versions that zip are all options for compression socks today.
Healthwise, these compression socks may serve various purposes and it is smart to talk to your doctor or pharmacist to help you decide which type of compression socks for varicose veins or other conditions is right for you.
Compression Socks Pressure Level Guide
Because compression socks are used by different people for different reasons, it is possible to get them in various levels of compression, from light to very strong.
Many compression stockings/socks are available for purchase over the counter or online, and there are also medical-grade socks that you can purchase in the pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription.
But if you decide to self-prescribe and purchase them online, you need to know what compression level suits you the best.
The measuring unit for compression socks is called “mmHg”, which stands for “millimeter of mercury”. (This is the same measurement used for blood pressure cuffs.)
15-20 mmHg- Over the Counter
This low compression level is suitable for everyday wear to help with mild swelling and fatigued legs due to long periods of standing, sitting and traveling. This level is also great for the prevention and relief of minor to moderate varicose veins and spider veins. Flight attendants, teachers, frequent travelers, pilots, nurses and other professionals may benefit from these light compression socks.
20-30 mmHg- Medical Grade Class I
The 20-30 mmHg level of compression is the most widely used medical-grade and recommended by doctors for basic needs. This level of compression is great for treating moderate to severe varicose veins and spider veins. It is also suitable for patients who are recovering from venous surgery, as well as pregnant women during the third trimester.
30-40 mmHg- Medical Grade Class II
The 30-40 mmHg level of compression is a stronger medical grade class II that is recommended for severe leg health symptoms. It is used for patients with lymphedema, severe varicose veins, venous reflux disease, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) to prevent dangerous blood clots.
40-50 mmHg- Medical Grade Class III
The 40-50 mmHg level of compression provides the strongest compression level and is only used for extreme cases. This level of compression is generally indicated for severe varicose veins, venous stasis, wound management, lymphedema, and other severe lower limb diseases. Your doctor will inform you if you need this type of pressure in your compression socks.
If you’ve been wondering about using compression socks for varicose veins, whether looking for prevention help or relief, then now is the time to get started!
It’s easy to order compression socks online, get them delivered to your door, and find relief from the stress and inconvenience of varicose veins in no time!