Socks can come with different fun designs and soft materials. Putting on a pair of warm, dry socks on cold feet can feel heavenly. For some people, socks are used to prevent medical conditions and improve health. These specialized socks are called compression stockings.
You may need a prescription or professional fitting to get the best results when wearing compression stockings. Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Ronnie G. Smalling specializes in helping you to find the best fit.
Compression stockings are socks that gently squeeze the leg. They come in different lengths and are specially made with materials that fit snuggly at certain areas such as the ankles. While they are meant to put pressure on your body, they should be comfortable to wear.
Wearing stockings throughout the day helps to decrease swelling and improve circulation. By giving the legs a squeeze, the stocking puts pressure on blood vessels and helps reduce the amount of fluid leaking from capillaries.
Leakage from capillaries is what causes swelling.
Compression allows capillaries and the lymphatic system to absorb fluids that would otherwise pool in the legs.
The veins also benefit from getting a squeeze and can push blood back to the heart easier. Veins have less space to fill with blood and the blood is forced to keep moving forward.
Blood needs to flow smoothly through the body to prevent congestion in the heart and lungs. Consistent flow also gives blood clots fewer chances to form. If a blood clot forms in the legs, it could break away and travel to the heart, brain, or lungs and cause serious or fatal damage.
Pooling of blood in the legs can also lead to:
Along with improving circulation and swelling, compression stockings can:
Wearing compression stockings is a great step to take towards better vascular health but it works best in conjunction with good hydration, exercise, and a healthy diet.
Compression stockings come in different lengths. They can be knee-length, thigh-high, or come as tights.
There are also compression sleeves to help with circulation in the arms.
Depending on your needs, compression stockings provide varying levels of pressure measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Smaller numbers provide less compression and are used for everyday living and working. Bigger numbers provide greater pressure and compression and are used for disease prevention such as the prevention of DVT.
There are three types of compression stockings:
It is best to consult with your doctor to know which type of stocking is best for you.
Since compression stockings are available over-the-counter, anyone can give them a go. However, the use of compression stockings should be considered by: