A varicose vein is a visible vein that runs just beneath the skin's surface. In some people, compression socks may assist in reducing the appearance and uncomfortable symptoms of varicose veins.
Blood gathers behind the tiny valves in a person's veins rather than flowing freely back to the heart, causing varicose veins. Since blood flow to the heart needs to travel further, they are more frequent in the feet and legs.
Compression stockings are frequently recommended by doctors to enhance circulation, prevent varicose veins from worsening, and relieve pain and discomfort.
We'll look at the research that supports the usage of these socks, as well as the hazards that come with them. We also go through how to select the appropriate size and form.
What are compression socks?
Compression socks can come in a variety of lengths and are meant to compress the legs a little tighter than regular socks. According to experts, the main goal is to improve blood flow in the legs.
"It's a pretty practical and common thing," says a supporter of compression socks. However, it is an extremely underused alternative." To put it another way, more individuals may profit from their use.
What are the benefits of compression stockings?
According to research, compression socks help with venous issues in the legs, and approximately 90% of leg disorders start in the veins.
Venous insufficiency is one example. "That is due to the inability of the vein valves to operate. Your blood would be trapped in your legs, with reduced returns to the heart."
Compression socks raise the pressure inside the tissues under the skin by gently compressing the legs. This decreases excess fluid leakage from capillaries while increasing tissue fluid uptake by capillaries and lymphatic channels. As a result, edema is minimized and swelling is prevented.
"It also restricts the capacity of superficial veins to widen to fill with blood, preventing that blood from moving backward and producing congestion," Experts add.
Skin changes, damage to the vein wall and valve, vein inflammation of the varicose veins, and even blood clots can all occur when blood pools in the veins of the legs.
Aside from venous insufficiency, studies show that wearing compression socks can help with blood flow while you're sitting for lengthy periods, such as on a long trip.
There is an increased collection and retention of blood in the legs with less mobility and poorer circulation, which might increase the risk of clots. While the risk of clotting is low if you're in good condition, you've certainly felt discomfort or swelling after extended bouts. Compression socks assist to maintain circulation and alleviate symptoms.
Compression stockings can assist improve circulation and alleviate varicose vein symptoms.
Compression stockings have long been used to help with circulation. Roman soldiers routinely wrapped their legs in leather bands to enhance circulation during prolonged marches, according to the authors of Sclerotherapy: Treatment of Varicose and Telangiectatic Leg Veins.
Modern compression stockings are much more sophisticated, with a continuous pressure in the legs that aids blood flow back to the heart. Stockings frequently put greater pressure on the ankles and feet, resulting in an increased compression that helps blood flow.
Although studies suggest compression stockings can help with some indications of varicose veins, there is no proof that they can completely remove them. The pressure exerted by various types of socks varies.
Some current varicose veins research includes:
When compared to conventional stockings, a 2018 study indicated that using compression socks with pressures of 18 to 21 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) for one week helped to lessen aches and suffering associated with varicose veins.
A 2017 study found that wearing 22 mm Hg stockings for 6 months helped women with varicose veins reduce leg swelling during pregnancy.
According to a 2014 research, surgical removal of varicose veins is better therapy than compression stockings.
The outcomes are mixed in general. According to a 2015 assessment, compression socks used as a therapy for varicose veins have little trustworthy data.
Types of compression socks
Compression socks are divided into two categories: graded and anti-embolism stockings. Any concerns you have should always be directed to your healthcare professional.
The most common and widely used form of compression socks is graduated compression socks. While these socks come in a variety of compression levels, they are all tightest at the ankle and loosen as they progress up the leg. Compression socks are typically knee-high or thigh-high in length, although complete compression tights are becoming increasingly popular among athletes.
Anti-embolism stockings have a narrower aim. They're intended to help bed-bound patients maintain circulation and prevent blood clots, especially those recovering from surgery.
Thigh-high compression stockings may be recommended by a doctor for varicose veins, but they are more commonly used to avoid blood clots following surgery, especially after knee surgery.
When should compression stockings be worn?
Compression stockings are commonly used during the day since sitting up straight and standing causes circulation difficulties.
To promote circulation, someone with varicose veins could consider putting their feet up during the night. A doctor may, however, advise wearing stockings at night.
Risks of compression stockings
If used for too long, compression stockings can cause skin discomfort. Compression stockings are tough to put on because they are designed to be tight. Clean and dry legs are required. Before putting on stockings, wait for any lotion to soak.
Wearing stockings for an extended period might have harmful consequences. Every day, take off your stockings and inspect your feet and legs for symptoms of injury or discomfort, using a mirror if required. Contact a doctor if developments of discomfort appear.
Compression socks may not be able to completely eradicate varicose veins, and they can also help with discomfort and swelling. Make sure to change compression socks each 3 to 6 months and inspect your legs regularly for symptoms of discomfort and injury. To get the greatest results, keep your legs and socks clean and dry.