Compression socks are some of the most recommended medical supplies today. However, there is some confusion and misguided concepts about compression socks and stockings. This is really unfortunate given how useful compression socks, and compression products in general are. That is why we have put together this Compression Socks and Stockings, the Ultimate Guide, to help you understand, choose and use compression socks and stockings.
What Are Compression Socks and Stockings?
Let’s first go over what compression socks and stockings are. Compression socks use a specialized weave of strong elastic to create pressure on the muscles in the legs, ankles, and feet. This serves the purpose of improving overall circulation and blood flow to your limbs and body.
Compression socks and stockings come in different pressure levels. Compression levels are measured in mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). This type of measurement is associated with different blood pressure levels. Gravity increases the pressure in the veins of the lower limbs where the impact of the force happens. This happens mostly at the ankle and decreases gradually up the leg. This pressure depends on the vertical distance the blood has to travel from the foot to the heart. This is why knee-high or thigh-high support hoses are designed with the most pressure centered at the ankle and decrease as you move up the leg.
How Does Compression Sock and Stockings Actually Work?
Compression stockings are similar to tights but with a few very notable differences. Compression Socks and stockings have a graduated amount of pressure versus tights that are uniform pressure. Uniform pressure means the tights apply basically an even pressure all throughout the tights. The graduated compression of compression stockings is designed to fit tight around the ankle and less tight around the calves.
Why Should I Consider a Compression Product?
Your doctor may recommend them for a variety of reasons, conditions and issues. For Example:
- Legs that are chronically swollen, painful, or fatigued
- Poor blood flow in the legs
- A known risk for blood clots, especially in the legs
- A history/family history of deep vein thrombosis
- Long bed rests, for example after surgery
- Varicose veins or venous leg ulcers
There are many benefits to compression socks and stockings. Check out our Benefits of Compression Products post for more detailed information.
To be clear, you do not need a prescription to get compression socks. That means if you have pain and swelling in your feet and legs, you can go ahead and try compression socks for relief.
Compression Sock Levals
As mentioned, Compression levels are measured in mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). This type of measurement is associated with different blood pressure levels. You should talk to your doctor to decide which level is right for you.
- Mildly aching and tired legs
- Support and comfort for either standing or sitting for long periods
- When just a little support is needed for general health and energy
- Slightly more support, offering day-to-day relief from achy, heavy, slightly swollen legs
- Extra support on busy, active days, or when traveling
- An aid for enhanced circulation, especially in the legs
- During pregnancy, they can help prevent varicose and spider veins
- The most commonly prescribed compression level by doctors
- Used to help a variety of minor to moderate medical conditions
- Used to help chronically painful, heavily fatigued legs
- Helpful in the treatment of varicose veins
- Relief from the swelling associated with mild edema
- Used in combination with elective surgical procedures such as sclerotherapy and phlebectomy
- Used to help treat orthostatic/postural hypotension, a form of low blood pressure
- Relief from moderate and severe edema and lymphedema
- Helps prevent and relieve more serious cases of varicose veins
- Used in the treatment of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and post thrombotic syndrome
- Can help heal active venous stasis ulcers
- Used after bone fractures and orthopedic surgeries
- Used to treat phlebitis
- Used in treating skin changes with healed ulceration
- Used as part of the treatment for chronic venous insufficiency
- Used for the most severe cases of DVT and post thrombotic syndrome
- Used in treating severe skin changes with active ulceration
Common Misconceptions of Compression Socks
One of the more common misconceptions of compression socks and compression stockings is that they will hurt the wearer of these products. In truth, the materials in the compression stockings make all the difference. For example, the Sigvaris carried at Bayshore Medical Supply have a silicone band at the top to prevent them from rolling down and cutting off circulation at the knee, so they never dig into the leg. A further example is the Men’s Opaque Calf which features double-covered inlay yarns to provide comfort and allow the product to easily glide on and off. It does not dig into the leg and takes extra effort to take off due to pressure.
Another misconception is compression products are for the elderly and make you look like you’re close to the nursing home. This can not be further from the truth. For example, Bayshore Medical Supply carries a wide variety and selection, keeping up to date with contemporary styles. The materials are incredibly soft and breathable and available in a wide range of colors.
Another very common misconception is that compression socks and stockings are hard to put on and take off. Technology and materials make compression socks more comfortable and functional. There are, however, certain standard techniques that make it easy to put them on and take them off.
Frequently Asked Questions About Compression Socks.
How Long Can I Wear Compression Socks?
You can wear them all day long, though you generally want to take them off before bed. If you forget to take them off, it’s not exactly harmful to you. Though, you shouldn’t leave the same pair of compression socks on for days at a time.
Is it ok to wear compression socks on swollen feet?
Compression stockings are made to help control swelling in the feet, ankles, and lower legs. The benefits of compression stockings include helping to squeeze these areas to prevent the buildup of fluid in the tissue.
Who Should Not Wear Compression Socks?
While compression socks are a great benefit to many, compression socks are not for everyone. There are those that are recommended not to wear them. Those who have been diagnosed with ischemia (advanced arterial disease or peripheral vascular disease affecting your lower extremities) should not wear compression socks. Diabetic patients should be careful in wearing compression socks, as diabetic neuropathy can prevent patients from feeling the changes in their feet.
Those with uncontrolled congestive heart failure should not wear compression socks. Due to the heart muscle becoming weak or stiff and cannot pump blood around the body efficiently, it can cause a build-up of fluid.
Those with skin irritations or allergies may want to avoid wearing compression socks. Some people can be allergic to components used to make compression socks. Those with Cellulitis, an infection deep within the skin that causes fluid build-up, are recommended not to wear compression socks. If you have dry skin or your skin dries out easily in certain climates, your skin is more likely to chafe from the compression socks.
Can compression socks be harmful?
Generally, compression socks are safe to use when used correctly. Even though they are meant to help with circulation, they can actually cut off circulation if worn incorrectly or getting the incorrect compression level for your needs. They can also chafe and bruise your legs as well. That is why if you are not sure of how to use your compression socks, ask someone at your medical supply store. Here at Bayshore, we work with you to find the perfect fit and show you the best way to put them on and wear them, so you get the most from your compression socks. We even make a record of your purchase so that when you come back, we can get you the same perfect pair that you bought last time.
Can compression socks cause blood clots?
GoodRX puts this best: “In rare cases, compression socks that are too tight may cause superficial venous thrombosis. These superficial blood clots occur in veins close to the skin’s surface and are less likely to cause complications. Compression socks have not been shown to cause deep vein thrombosis, which are more serious blood clots.”
Should I wear compression socks if I sit all day?
Yes, compression socks are perfect for office workers who have a sit-down job. They help prevent swelling of your feet and lower legs. They are also perfect if you stand several hours of your day as well.
Is it normal for socks to leave indentations?
Sock marks on your legs can be common. Most socks contain elastic to keep them from slipping down. Pressure from the elastic can leave a mark, especially if the soft tissue in your legs is swollen with fluid. However, the better quality and more comfortable fitting socks from companies like Jobst and Sigvaris are less likely to do so if worn properly.
How Long Does It Take for Compression Socks to Work?
The reduction in pain or discomfort in your legs is usually immediate. However, it may take several days of regular use to enjoy a noticeable reduction in swelling. Improvement in the appearance of your veins can take up to six weeks to see. For best results, we recommend putting on your compression socks first thing in the morning.
How Do I Know When a Compression Sock Is Too Small or Too Tight?
Though it is normal for compression socks to feel tighter towards the ankle/foot area, it should never cause pain. They should not pinch any part of the skin. If your skin has any discoloration or you have numbness, then your compression socks are too tight. When your compression socks aren’t fitted correctly, they can have the opposite effect and prevent blood from circulating in your legs. It’s important to talk to either your doctor or medical supply store rep to find out which level of compression is right for you.
What is the Difference Between Compression Socks and Compression Stockings?
Compression socks and stockings are essentially the same things. The only difference is compression / compressive socks are shorter and cover up to your ankle, while stockings can go as high as your thigh.
How to put your compression stockings on.
Grab the heel pocket and turn the sock inside out. Slide the sock halfway onto your foot. Hold both sides of the top band and pull the sock over your heel and up your calf. Adjust the heel pocket and smooth out any wrinkles. The band should be the width of two fingers from the bend of your knee. If you do have a weakness in your hands or limited mobility, there are donning aids to help such as donning butlers.
Where to buy compression Socks and Stockings
By law, no prescription is required to buy compression socks and stockings. Medical Supply stores, such as Bayshore Medical Supply in Pasadena, TX are a great place to find compression products. We carry a wide range of Sigvaris and Jobst compression products. Here at Bayshore Medical Supply, we will talk through the problems they’re experiencing, measure their legs, and give them the perfect fit for the issue. Though we do recommend always consulting with your doctor, a lot of doctors will write a general prescription without looking deeper into their issues. Not all compression socks are the exact same. The material of the sock, 2-way stretch vs 4-way stretch, the height of sock, etc. all make a big difference. For example, a lot of women have very soft areas right below their knee, so a silicon band will help prevent rolling and won’t cut off circulation.
Bayshore Medical Supply, Your Source for Compression Socks and Stockings
If you live in or around Southeast Houston such as Pasadena, Deer Park or Baytown and are looking to buy compression socks or compression stockings, Bayshore Medical Supply has you covered. We have a wide selection, and carry a ton of different colors, patterns, and styles. We will discuss with you the symptoms you are trying to alleviate. We then measure your legs or arms to get a proper fit & then present you with a choice of solutions. Our helpful staff can teach you how to put on and use your socks, stockings, or arm sleeves. You can call (713) 472-8585 or come into our store at 4205 Spencer Hwy, Pasadena, TX 77504