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What Are Compression Socks Used For?

Compression socks of different colours

Vascular diseases affect the network of vessels that pump blood throughout the body. Over 24 million Canadians have at least one risk factor for vascular disease. Ten million have three or more.

Vascular issues are painful and dangerous. They lead to other devastating conditions, such as stroke, dementia, and heart disease. A multi-purpose solution to this complex problem is wearing compression socks. Read on to learn what they're used for.

What Are Compression Socks?

Compression socks squeeze the legs more than typical socks. They're primarily used to improve blood circulation.

There are two major types of compression socks; graduated and anti-embolism.

Graduated compression socks are the more common variety. They're tightest around the ankle, then get looser the higher up they go.

Anti-embolism compression socks are more common for medical purposes. They maintain circulation and prevent swelling and blood clots for bed-bound patients, especially those recovering from surgery. They can be knee-high or thigh-high. Get a measurement of your ankle, calves, and leg for proper compression sock sizing.

Compression socks come in over-the-counter or compression grade. There are also different compression levels. They're measured in mmHG or millimetres or mercury, and levels include:

  • Firm (20-30 mmHg)

  • Extra firm (30-40 mmHg)

Take the time to find the right fit. Socks that are too loose could cause friction and blistering. Those that are too tight can lower your blood circulation.

You may also be able to find extra compression socks features. They come in a variety of colours, including black, blue, pink, and grey. Patterns include solid and striped.

Remember, the goal is to find a pair that looks and feels right for you.

What Is Compression Therapy?

Figuring out how compression socks work starts with looking at how they affect your blood. They cause it to flow up toward your heart instead of pooling down toward your feet. This reduces the buildup of lactic acid. It prevents blood clots during periods of inactivity and reduces pain in athletes after workouts.

The socks also apply graduated pressure to damaged veins and help reduce their size. This increases blood flow while reducing and preventing swelling.

What Conditions Can Compression Socks Be Useful For?

26% of Canadian adults have varicose veins. Compression socks can help treat and prevent them. DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, occurs when a blood clot develops in one of the body's deep veins. At least 200,000 Canadians suffer from it every year. It's most common in the legs, making compression socks an effective treatment.

Graduated compression socks reduce lymphedema masses. Higher compression levels are more effective.

Other benefits of compression socks include the following:

  • Decreasing pregnancy swelling

  • Elevating athletic performance

  • Increasing blood circulation

Do I Need A Prescription for Compression Socks?

Yes. You need a prescription from your family doctor, and an insurance plan is required to cover the cost. The doctor's approval is necessary for most grades higher than 20-30 mmHg to 30-40 mmHg.

Avoid compression socks if you have:

  • Nerve damage in the legs

  • Conditions that affect skin sensations

  • Peripheral arterial disease

  • Skin infections on the feet or legs

  • Dermatitis with oozing or fragile skin

  • Massive leg swelling

  • Pulmonary edema from congestive heart failure

Compression socks improve blood flow. They prevent and treat vascular conditions such as varicose veins, DVT, lymphedema. Almost anyone can wear them for relief or improved athletic performance.

Book an appointment at Complete Foot Care & Orthotic Centre for help finding them today.

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