In this fast-moving competitive world, hard and long hours at work has no alternatives. While some imbibe themselves with their work computer all day, some others have to stand, walk and move around constantly. Though there are rewards for such a commitment, side effects are inevitable. They include fatigue, stress and in rare cases conditions called Edema or leg swelling.
Both men and women are prone to such swelling which is mostly accompanied by pain or numbness. Resting legs in an elevated position offers temporary relief. But there is more to it and getting professional help at the right time and more importantly identifying the underlying cause and addressing it should not be ignored.
What is Edema
“Edema”, medically is swelling of a part of the body due to fluid buildup in the tissues. Sometimes, when the small blood vessels or capillaries leak fluid into nearby tissues, that extra fluid builds up in the tissue and makes the tissue swell. It can happen anywhere in the body and most commonly in the legs, feet and ankles.
Types of Edema
There are different types of Edema and the most common ones are Peripheral Edema and Pedal Edema. The former one affects the legs, feet, arms and ankles and the latter shows up in feet and lower legs. Pedal Edema is a common situation for pregnant women and older people. This restricts movement as well, since it develops numbness in the feet. Other types include Lymphedema, Pulmonary Edema, Cerebral Edema, Macular Edema etc. These affect other parts of the body including eyes and brain.
Causes of Edema
While Edema is common in people who sit, stand or walk for a long time, people with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women are also prone to it. Injury, wound, infection, intake of excess salt in diet and certain medications also cause Edema in some cases.
Symptoms of Edema
Symptoms of Edema vary based on intensity and type. While mild Edema might not show any symptom at all, a more severe one might cause soreness, pain and heaviness in the legs in case of leg Edema and skin ulcers, shortness of breathe etc in other types.
Relief through Compression Therapy
Routine treatment involve medical help and compression therapy. Doctors prescribe Compression Stocking which is a proven mechanism to address swelling. It applies compression on the area of impact and controls swelling, regulates blood-flow in the legs and also addresses vein related discomforts. These stockings provide comfort to the user.
Let’s expedite more about the compression stockings and their features in the coming sections.
Compression, Compression Stockings and their benefits
What are Compression Garments?
As part of Compression Therapy, a specially designed garment called compression socks or compression stockings is prescribed to be worn. The medical practitioner also advises on the time and duration these are to be kept-on based on the compression required. The pressure these stretchy, snug-fitting stockings put on the legs help the blood vessels work better thereby preventing pooling of blood in one place, resultant blood clots and related problems like pain, swelling and discolored skin. These also give vein support and are a great boon to treat conditions like Edema, Lymphedema, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), etc and also help address several venous diseases and disorders. These also provide relief form the pain caused by varicose veins and prevent patients with DVT from developing post-thrombotic syndrome.
Compression socks apply gentle pressure to the legs and ankles and promotes blood-flow from the legs to heart thus supplying oxygen filled blood to the muscles, keeping them fresh. Their compression not only assures a healthy leg, but also reduces the risk of such clots travelling in the blood and affecting other systems in our body.
Compression Stockings for long flights
Compression Stockings also come handy for cabin crew members on long distance flights. There is a potential risk of developing sore and painful legs or even DVT in worst cases during long distance flights where these help to nullify the impacts of sitting for a long time by increasing the blood flow.
Compression Stockings for Sports
Sports persons also wear them during their play and practice on the field to perform better. Their usage help upgrade their performance, as well as avoid grave injuries and sports related medical conditions by minimizing chances of clots.
Others uses of Compression Stockings
Aside to the above, pregnant women, nurses, truck driver etc., who are more prone to Edema get benefited by using Compression stockings.
Other benefits of compression socks include making the person feel more steady and less dizzy while standing up by reducing orthostatic hypotension, preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in the legs, improving lymphatic drainage, preventing venous ulcers, reversing venous hypertension etc.
Types of Compression Stockings
While Compression Stockings eases leg swelling, blood circulation and swelling related issues in the arms are taken care of by Compression Sleeves. These sleeves are just the tube part of the socks without foot. Compression Stockings and Compression Sleeves come in different kinds, sizes, strengths and lengths to cover different parts of the body. These garments also come in Pantyhose model when bilateral full leg support is required.
The length of the stockings rests upon the cause. For example, for Edema in the legs, the stockings go knee high and for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), they mostly are just below the knee. Similarly, after surgery stockings vary according to the specifications provided by the medical practitioner.
Do all Compression Stockings give the same level of compression?
The stockings differ in the level of pressure or compression to provide desirable relief. The pressure or compression is measured or designated in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Example: 30mmHg, 40 mmHg. These should hold firm, but should not be very tight. Else, such extreme pressure would lead to other discomforts and hazards. Ideally, the pressure given by the Compression socks for Edema must be mild so as to enable the person wearing them walk around freely while doing their routine work at home or work. Very firm hold and compression is required for people with Deep Vein Thrombosis and hence the stockings designed for DVT comes with a very strong grip.
Let us take a look at the basic types of the Compression Stockings now. The primary types are Graduated Compression Stockings, Anti-Embolism Stockings and Non-Medical Support Hosiery. It is important to choose the right type of stockings to get the right results, where the doctors play a crucial diagnostic role.
Graduated Compression Stockings
The purpose of Graduated Compression Stockings is to treat chronic vein related diseases and edema. Graduated (AKA Graded) Compression Stockings that go up till thigh or waist help to reduce pooling of blood in the legs and help prevent Orthostatic Hypotension. In the leg veins, blood-flow should be upward to the heart. Hence these special stockings provide maximum compression at the ankle and a gradually decreasing scheme of compression towards the top. That way, they help to push back the blood up the leg from the ankle thereby averting pooling of blood in the leg and resultant swelling.
They are made for patients who are mobile and are designed based on the technical specifications issued by the health care provider. Due to the strict measurements, they require a professional fitting, but are relatively easier to wear than the medical bandages. Stockings that end just below the knee help limit peripheral edema, or lower leg swelling resulting from fluid buildup. They come in personalized color and structure with a choice of open or closed toe.
An embolism happens when the blood-flow within an artery is obstructed by clots or air bubbles. This is caused by poor blood circulation in people with high risk medical conditions and also in people resting or standing for a long period of time. Pregnancy and genetics could also cause Embolism. Anti-Embolism Stockings are usually worn by non-mobile patients after surgeries to prevent pooling of blood in the legs. Due to their immobility, stockings made for mobile patients would not suit them. Measuring and determining the right size play a crucial role here to achieve the desired therapeutic effect. Hence, its application is best done by medical staff and trained personnel.
Similar to the Graduated Compression Stockings, Anti-Embolism stockings also provide gradient compression and come in knee high and thigh high lengths. One main difference between this and the Graduated Compression Stockings is their levels of compression. Anti-Embolism Stockings helps prevent or reduce the possibility of Deep Vein Thrombosis.
Non-medical support hosiery
Non-medical Stockings are those that come in compression grades of 20mmHg or less. Non-medical support hosiery usually do not require a prescription and can be bought over the counter. Since they are not made for an underlying condition, they are not designed based on strict specifications unlike the other two types. These flight socks or elastic support stockings are intended to given relief for stressed and heavy legs and are ideal to be worn during travel. They apply substantially less compression than Graduated Compression Stockings and the pressure is uniform and not gradient. These are available in pharmacies or online.
How to choose your Stockings?
The compression socks come in different types, size and compression grades and it is very crucial to choose the right one for the right cause. The type of stockings require careful study of the condition, underlying cause, future risks and compression levels and is best when prescribed by a medical practitioner. Not just the type, but determining the right size is also not easy if they are recommended for medical reasons. Advice and assistance by trained doctors, nurses and other medical staff is required in this.
However, if they are sought for general comfort and as relief for aching legs, one can go for non-medical hosiery from pharmacies and online outlets.
Where to buy best quality Compression Stockings?
These are generally available with medical equipment dealers, stores and even online. Price varies from type to type, based on specifications.
Quality and precise knee-high 20mmHg to 30mmHG Compression Socks are available at Comprogear.com. Please visit to order your pair and also to access the vast knowledge base of useful and informative resources.
Points of Caution – Compression and Stockings
Despite the long list of it’s benefits, care should be taken on the use. Fit is important and improperly worn stockings would cause problems. The process of wearing them is not as simple as wearing a normal socks and the instructions issued by the doctor must be strictly adhered-to. It is to be noted that people with certain health issues like severe congestive cardiac issues, advanced arterial disease etc are advised against the use of these gears and proactive caution is to be exercised. People with diabetes, smoking habits, skin infections and allergies should also use these after approval by their doctors. In a nut-shell, any medical compression stockings and socks should be used under the supervision of a trained medical practitioner for personal safety and any discomforts during their use must be immediately reported.