Support hose or compression stocking is an elastic piece of wear that is worn around the ankle of feet to help distribute pressure around the area it is worn. It distributes this pressure by reducing the diameter of expanded veins through compression of the limb.
When the diameter of the veins is reduced, blood flows smoothly from the affected area back to the heart.
Why Are They Important?
Compression socks are quite useful in so many ways, and their importance to healthy living cannot be overemphasized. Doctors generally prescribe these socks to people who tend to experience cramps, aches, heaviness and swelling around their ankles or feet.
Most of these swelling and cramps are usually attributed to strenuous activities being undertaken by the individual or vein health problems. Whichever the case may be, support hose goes a long way in mitigating the effect of such activities on the veins.
How It Works
When the heart pumps the blood to different parts of the body through the arteries, it distributes oxygen as well as nutrients to various body cells in the process. However, the circulation process requires the veins to get the blood back to the heart so as to replenish the nutrients for onward distribution again. Often times, the veins find it difficult to transport the blood back especially when it’s a part of the body that is distant from the heart like the legs.
Usually, the blood is transported by the veins with the aid of the calf muscle that acts as a mini-pump; this is done through the contraction-expansion action of the muscle. This contraction-expansion action occurs as a result of the constant movement of an individual.
For many people, this process does not take place due to the fact that they maintain stationary positions for long periods. Compression socks help to exert a certain amount of external pressure that’s needed to keep the blood in circulation back to the heart.
What Makes The Use Of Hose Necessary?
Compression socks become a necessity when you start to notice cramps and swollen veins around your ankle area. These cramps usually occur as a result of standing or sitting for long periods and its effects are sometimes damaging. Here are some reasons why the use of compression stockings are quite important;
Use of Hose on Legs For Preventive Reasons
- Occupations: Certain jobs require you to stand for or stay in a standing or sitting position for a long period of time. Some of these occupations include; show hosts, flight attendants, cameramen, and even pilots. Staying in such positions strains the tissues of your legs and ankles and this subsequently affects the flow of blood around that area.
These sets of people tend to experience cramps and swollen feet after work and it’s a clear indication that blood isn’t circulating properly around the swollen area. The use of compression stockings helps to circulate and maintain blood flow even while you are stationary.
- Frequent travelers: Men often go on extended trips, whether it’s for business or leisure. Most of these trips require these men to strap their legs in confined spaces within the bus, train, car or plane.
However, sitting in such positions for long periods tend to have huge effects on the flow of flood, as many people tend to develop DVT from such a situation. It’s quite ideal to use compression stockings while embarking on such long trips as these socks help in preventing the risk of developing DVT while traveling on such trips.
- Students: It might come as a bit of a shock to see this category amongst those who risk inflammation of the veins, but students are not left out. Certain high school classes require students to sit in a stationary position for more than 2 hours.
This is enough time for the veins to expand especially when this occurs on a daily basis. It’s not out of place for students to imbibe the use of compression socks when there’s a high probability that they will be sitting in class for an extended period of time.
- Sportsmen: The sight of compression socks on sportsmen is becoming common these days and it’s not difficult to see why this is so. Runners and athletes are often seen on compression socks especially when they are training for long-distance races.
Sporting activities tend to result in muscle fatigue and even muscle damage in some instances; this is where the use of compression stockings becomes necessary. These socks help to keep the muscles in shape and thereby enhance the performance of these athletes.
Its Usage In The Correction Of Existing Health Conditions
Post-Surgery Recovery: Compression socks are usually recommended as an important post-surgery recovery tool. Some surgeries require one to lie on a spot for a while before resuming certain activities.
It’s important to keep blood in optimal circulation during this period of rest and compression socks help with that.
- Varicose Veins: These are enlarged or swollen veins around the ankle area of the body and they often appear in dark purple color. It is a well-known fact that blood circulates from different parts of the body back to the heart but on certain occasions, this doesn’t happen as blood gets trapped in some body parts. These spider veins occur as a result of blood being trapped around the leg areas and subsequently forming clots. Regular use of compression socks can help to correct this anomaly and improve the circulation of blood.
- Acute venous issues: Issues with the flow of blood in veins are sometimes quite complicated and they often result in the legs feeling very heavy. Other symptoms include rashes, swelling, and skin color alteration. These venous problems are usually very painful when not treated quickly. Compression socks can help to prevent the backward flow of blood within the vein.
- Diabetic patients: Diabetic patients usually experience swollen feet and ankles as one of the core symptoms of the ailment. Doctors often prescribe the use of diabetic socks that are designed to exert a minimal amount of pressure on the affected area in a bid to aid the flow of blood. These socks go a long way in preventing and reducing swelling of the patient’s feet.
- Arthritis patients: Arthritis is the inflammation of certain joints in the body, leading to excruciating pain and stiffness around such joints. Arthritis could become more severe with age and this is exactly why it’s usually treated exclusively. Compressive socks help in alleviating these pains and subsequently reducing the extent of the joint inflammation by distributing blood around such joints.
Which Type Of Hose Is The Good?
Compression socks are totally not connected to gender as the specifics of which type of compression stockings to use depends on the reason why you’re using them. Certain compression socks dissipate a huge amount of pressure while others release a mild amount of pressure.
It’s important to ascertain the amount of pressure that you’d need around the affected area so as to know the type of socks to use. The main types of compression socks in terms of the amount of pressure exerted are;
- Support pantyhose: These types of compression socks do not dissipate much pressure, and they are usually not tight fitted. They are particularly suitable for athletes who need small amounts of pressure around their joints to keep them moving.
- Compression socks: These socks provide a medium amount of pressure and are usually suitable for those who sit or stand in stationary positions for long periods. They exert more pressure than compression stockings and are usually preferred by most people due to ease of use.
- Prescription compression socks: These types of stockings are usually recommended for use by specialists. These specialists also fit it to ensure it doesn’t become too tight as these stockings exert the greatest amount of pressure. They are usually used to correct the defect.
Compression socks can also be classified according to the length of the socks. The two types of compression socks in the category are;
- Knee High Compression socks: This length classification of compression socks usually stretches from the lower end of the feet to the back of the knee. They are particularly suited to the distribution of pressure and promotion of blood circulation around the lower leg during exercises and other workouts.
- Thigh-high Compression socks: These types of compression sock usually stretch from the feet to the thigh, and they are often recommended by doctors when there’s a need to prevent DVT (blood clot in the leg) after a surgery.
The Ideal Time To Wear It
Compression socks are ideal when there’s a need to counter the effect of gravity on your legs; this effect is often felt when one is in a stationary position, that is, when one is sitting or standing on a spot for a long period. Except on rare cases, compression socks are meant to be taken off at night so as to give the skin some breathing space.
One of such rare cases is during recovery from major surgery as there’s a high risk of such people developing a clot. Compression socks help to circulate blood around the operation area so as to avoid such scenarios.
It’s always advisable to follow the physician recommendations as regards the proper time to put on the compression socks.
Compression socks are not the typical colorful piece of wears anyone can wear on an outing. The effects of wearing compression socks inappropriately could be damaging and it’s often advised to consult a doctor before putting it on.
Furthermore, using the wrong size of socks could have negative effects as a tight pair of support hose could impede the proper flow of blood in the veins.
Tips To Help You Know When To Stop Wearing It
- Discomfort and Uneasiness: Compression socks are not meant to make you uncomfortable, and once you start to notice the discomfort of any sort, something needs to change. Often times, the discomfort occurs as a result of using the wrong size and this makes it inappropriate for you.
The discomfort might also be as a result of using the wrong type of compression socks in terms of pressure amount. At this point, It’s always essential to consult a doctor when you start to feel discomfort while wearing compression socks.
- The pain and swelling don’t subside: Compression socks should help reduce pains and swelling around the area on which they are worn. When there isn’t any noticeable change, it’s always advisable to stop wearing them until you consult a physician.
- They are loose: When you begin to notice a certain amount of looseness while wearing your compression socks, it might be a sign for you to get a new pair. Compression socks are meant to exert a required level of pressure and when this is not the case, the purpose of wearing the socks has been defeated.
- Difficult to put on: This is a clear sign that the socks are too small in size for you. Forcing the socks on might have huge effects on your body system. It is always ideal to use the right size of socks so as to get the best results.
Wide-Reaching Effects Of The Misuse Of Compression Socks
Despite the numerous benefits attached to the use of compression socks, there is an array of side effects attached to using it inappropriately. Some of these effects include;
- Corns and calluses
- Severe itching
- Irritation of the skin
- Broken skin
The list above isn’t exhaustive as there are other reported effects in times past. These effects vary from person to person in terms of severity, and it’s always important to consult a physician when you notice any of these symptoms.
Conditions That Limit The Use Of These Socks
The use of compression socks is gradually gaining ground, and so many people want to join the trend. However, certain health conditions might limit the use of compression socks as these conditions tend to become aggravated when it’s being used.
- Those with skin allergy: A lot of persons are allergic to certain materials used in the production of these compression socks. When these sets of persons put on the socks, they are likely to experience total discomfort, and these might end up damaging their skin.
- Ischemia patients: This is a condition that affects the distribution rate of the oxygenated blood by the arteries. The use of compression socks adds eternal pressure to the circulatory system and when an ischemia patient uses the socks, there’s a high tendency that it will impede the distribution of oxygenated blood in such person’s system.
The list is not exhaustive as there are numerous other health conditions that could get aggravated by the use of compressive socks. It’s always important to seek the counsel of a physician before using compression socks.
Steps To Take In Order To Avoid Complications
- Use the appropriate size of compression socks
- Do not wear the socks for a longer period than required
- Ensure the socks aren’t too tight
- If you’re allergic to certain fabric materials, consult a physician
- Ensure you follow the guideline on how to properly wear the socks
- Regularly lookout for changes in your body system
- Replace your compression stockings every 3-6 months
The use of compression stockings is quite beneficial to both men and women as the health benefits are quite numerous. Many men have jobs that require them to stay in stationary positions for long periods and this greatly affects the flow of blood in the leg region; compression stockings can be used to facilitate the circulation of blood even while you’re immobile.
Despite its many benefits, using these socks the wrong way might lead to damaging effects and this is why it is always important to make necessary consultations before use.