Compression Stockings and Their Function
The general public once had a negative attitude towards compression socks. They were considered ugly and only worn by older people. People also said that the design looks too institutional and should only be worn inside the hospital; not in public. While some of the public still believes in this, many people have come to understand the uses and benefits of compression socks for both the elderly and younger people.
Compression socks are specialized hosiery that is designed to prevent the occurrence of further progression of certain diseases. These garments are made of elastic fibers such as lycra, spandex, cotton, and other microfiber materials. They are worn around the leg to put pressure on the limb.
There are two types of compression socks; graduated cand uniform compression. The uniform compression socks offer equal amounts of pressure through all parts of the stocking. The graduated compression socks offer graduated compression; pressure is tightest at the ankles and it gradually decreases as it goes up the calf.
There are three main functions of compression socks; the first and most common is for medical use. People do not pay enough attention to their legs; especially men. You might say it is normal considering they are furthest from the eyes, and hardly present complications compared to other parts of the body. Unfortunately, this notion has left many diseases leg untreated.
Edema is a common disease that affects the legs and goes untreated among many adults. Edema is actually a medical term for swelling; body parts can swell due to inflammation, and injury. Edema occurs when the small blood vessels leak fluid into nearby tissues. When the extra fluid builds up the tissues swell. When edema affects the legs, ankles, and feet, it is known as peripheral edema.
It presents itself as heavy legs, that are swollen. You will also experience pain in the affected legs and pitting (the skin retains a dimple when pressed). If you have severe edema, you may also experience skin ulcers. Edema is treated with compression socks. Compression socks apply pressure on the tissues that are filled with fluid and squeeze them to release the buildup. This brings swelling down.
The second function of compression socks is to relieve tired legs and help stimulate muscle recovery. You may notice that compression socks are mostly worn by runners, and athletes during and after a marathon or training session. This is because compression socks offer the necessary pressure to help tired legs relax without slowing down circulation which in turn helps with muscle recovery.
Lastly, compression socks help to maintain regular blood circulation. People who fly or travel a lot have their legs at rest. When your legs are at rest, the veins struggle to pump blood back to the heart for reoxygenation. This is because they rely on muscle movement to apply enough pressure to help with circulation. Without this, the blood slows down and causes problems such as varicose veins, and blood clots. Compression socks apply pressure on the veins to keep blood flowing at a regular pace.
Benefits of Compression Socks
Wearing compression socks pose many benefits to your health and beauty. The first benefit of wearing compression socks is the regular circulation of the blood. The vein walls can sometimes expand in diameter due to stress. This causes the valves that prevent backflow to malfunction which in turn leads to the pooling of blood.
Compression socks reduce the diameter of the veins which increases blood pressure and boost circulation. Through improved circulation, compression socks also prevent the formation of blood clots and the onset of deep vein thrombosis. Compression socks also reduce the chances of swelling in the legs.
More than that, compression socks offer beauty-related benefits. The most common is helping with the appearance of varicose veins. Varicose veins are discolored veins of the legs that are also swollen, budging, and painful. Many times, varicose veins are merely a cosmetic problem that does not affect the function of the legs. Other times, they are a gateway to other diseases. Either way, compression socks help to manage the symptoms and appearance of varicose veins.
Styles of Compression Socks
Compression wear comes in different options. The most common is knee-high compression socks. Knee-high compression socks are those that reach just below the knee; they are the most popular form of compression wear in the market today. They are often worn by nurses, teachers, and anyone who wants to relieve tired legs. They are good for patients with medical conditions that affect the lower legs such as edema or deep vein thrombosis in one of the deep veins of the lower legs.
Another popular form of compression socks is thigh-high stockings. These reach up to the lower thigh offering graduated compression that lesses as the stocking travels up. These compression socks are worn by people who need more vein support. They are also worn by people who have deep vein thrombosis to prevent the formation of a pulmonary embolism. People with varicose veins in the thighs also wear these socks.
Full-length hose is quite popular among people whose legs feel tired form the toes to the upper thigh. Hose covers the toes, all the way to the waist which helps to regulate blood circulation and relieve swelling everywhere. Full-length hose is often recommended to patients who are immobile such as those who are recovering from surgery.
Another style of compression is toeless; as the name suggests, toeless compression socks cover every part except the toes. Toeless compression socks are often made for people who also have diabetes; it makes it easier to inspect for injuries and wounds. Toeless socks are also worn by people who normally feel restricted at the toes while wearing normal compression socks.
Finally, there are compression sleeves or footless compression socks. These have become widely popular due to the breathability they offer. They cover every part except for the foot. They are popularly worn by people who like their toes to breath and whose symptoms are not concentrated on the feet.
Our Compression Socks
We offer a range of compression wear for patients with various symptoms. Our most popular compression wear is the anti embolic stockings or TED hose. They can be both knee-high and thigh-high and are worn by people who are at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis or to prevent the progression of the symptoms.
TED hose are not ideal for people who walk around such as pregnant women, and athletes. Rather, they are for people who are bedridden and do not move around a lot. When your muscles relax, such as when you are in bed for most of the day, blood flow slows down which in turn increases the likelihood of forming clots or embolisms. The formation of these clots is what is known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT.
Our TED hose offer a snug fit that minimizes the risk of developing DVT. For people who already have DVT, the stockings will prevent the blood clot from breaking off, and traveling through the bloodstream to the arteries and lungs; causing a life-threatening condition known as Pulmonary Embolism.
Our compression wear also features knee-high, thigh-high, and hose compression socks. They offer graduated pressure that is tightest at the ankles. The pressure reduces going up the stocking. Our compression socks come in 20-30 mmHg compression level. This number means that the compression will not fall below 20 mmHg but not go above 30 mmHg.
20-30 mmHg compression socks are the first medical-grade compression, hence the name Medical Grade Class I. It is the most widely used form of compression wear because it provides firm compression without being too strong. These compression socks are great for managing symptoms of varicose veins, and spider veins. People who also have edema can benefit from these socks. Pregnant women also experience less swelling and better blood flow to the heart while using these compression socks.
Why go footless?
Footless compression socks are becoming more popular among consumers of compression socks. This is because some individuals are more comfortable with footless options. Footless compression offers the most possible freedom to people who like to let their feet breathe. So why go footless?
Footless compression socks reduce crowding and cramping of toes. Compression socks are very snug and so the toes are cramped together in footed socks. With the footless option, your toes are not crowded meaning that you are comfortable.
Footless compression socks are the best option for summer. A greater part of why footless compression socks became so popular is because, during the summer, many patients abandoned their compression therapy due to discomfort caused by heat. Footless compression socks offer free circulation of air between your toes. They make it more bearable to wear compression in the summer.
They also make it easy to wear sandals, flip flops, and other forms of open-toe shoes. These socks are also easier to wear, especially if you use a donning tool. Finally, footless compression socks are overall stylish and supportive of veins.
Compression Socks Dos and Don’ts
Wearing and caring for compression socks is not like having a normal pair of socks. A big part of compression therapy lies in the dos and don’ts that every patient should look put for. Whether you are new to compression wear or need to take better care of them; ensure that you do the following.
Do measure your legs before buying compression socks. Whether they are over the counter or prescribed by a doctor, it is important to get a measurement to determine what size is right for you. Sizes range from small, to plus-size; a professionally done measurement is best but you can also do the measurements yourself using instructions online.
Do wash your compression socks every day. Washing compression socks ensure that they retain their tightness and elasticity. It also rids them of sweat and dirt. Washing your compression socks should be done very carefully. Use cool water as hot water will damage the elasticity of the socks.
Also, ensure that you use a mild detergent to ensure that they do not get damaged. Use your hands to wash then, then rinse with cool water. To dry, you can gently squeeze the socks; ensure that you do not pull them as they will get damaged. You can also pat them with a towel to get rid of excess water. Place them somewhere with a free circulation of air to dry.
Do replace your compression socks regularly; precisely three to six months. Eventually, the elastic fibers will start to break down due to wearing and tearing, When this happens, the socks will start to feel loose or sag, especially at the top. There is no mending compression socks so the best thing to do is to buy another pair for optimum leg health.
Do wear your compression socks first thing in the morning. A lot of people wear their compression socks selectively such as when their legs start to swell, or when they start experiencing pain. This is a mistake because compression therapy should start first thing in the morning. In the morning, your legs are least swollen, and least painful, especially if you sleep with your feet elevated.
This is the best time to wear your compression socks, as it will be easier. Moreover, wearing them first thing in the morning will reduce the onset of pain and swelling when you start to move around and go about your daily activities.
Do use donning tools and hacks to put on your compression socks. Some hacks such as moisturizing your legs when they are dry or applying corn flour on the legs when they are wet have been proven to make wearing compression socks easier. Also, there are several donning tools in the market today that help you to wear compression socks. The most common are rubber gloves that allow you to get a better grip on the socks.
The don’ts of compression socks ensure that you are doing compression therapy correctly and that they will last a long time. When wearing compression socks, do not sleep in them. It is a common tendency among patients to wear compression socks when they are sleeping. However, it should not be done unless your doctor recommends it.
When you are sleeping, your legs are in a neutral position which means that circulation is good. This is why many people wake up with their legs less swollen. Wearing compression socks in your sleep is unnecessary and may even cause discomfort, Instead, try elevating your legs to improve circulation.
Don’t roll up compression socks when wearing, and taking them off. Many people roll up regular socks to put them on or take them off and it works. However, it does not work for compression socks; instead, it creates a tight band that cuts off circulation and causes more pain. Try using a donning tool to prevent this from happening.
Don’t use strong detergents to wash your compression socks. Products such as chlorine bleach are known to damage the elasticity of compression socks. When washing your compression socks, avoid using strong detergents as this compromises the elasticity and damages the socks. Ensure that you stick to mild stain removers, and bleaches.
Don’t cut them at any point. When spring changes to summer, you may realize that your compression socks feel a little snugger and restricting. Most people cut part of their compression socks to modify them for the change in weather. Some cut out toes, feet, thighs, and even the calves. Unfortunately, cutting any part of a compression sock damages it. It will start to roll up or not fit as it should.
Rather than modify the compression socks yourself, consider buying a different style of compression wear to deal with changes in weather. Compression wear has many styles including low cuts that are great for running.
Finally, do not change from one level of compression to another without consulting a doctor. Compression wear can be just as dangerous as it is helpful. Wearing the wrong level of compression causes more damage to the legs. People often switch their compression levels without consulting their doctors because they want immediate relief.
However, before you switch to a higher or lower compression level, it is best to consult with your doctor. If you wear a compression level that is too low, your symptoms will not change, and may even progress. If you wear a pressure level that is too high, circulation will be cut off resulting in more health problems.
Therefore, if you feel that you need to adjust your compression level, seek the advice of a medical professional who will not only direct you to the best compression level but also help you get fitted for a pair of stockings.