compression socks

Benefits of Compression Socks for Chronic Condition

Written By : Shelley Lewis RD, LD, CDE   ✓ Fact Checked

Compression socks are just like your regular socks that helps blood flow and comfort for your muscles.

(Last Updated on May 25, 2024)

When dealing with chronic conditions there is a lot that one would do to find a solution to relieve pain. Between traditional approaches and more holistic methods, there are a lot of different directions one can go.

When the perfect combination is found, suddenly the condition can feel a lot more manageable for some. This is why compression socks have been a go-to treatment for both serious and mild chronic conditions.

It’s always widely used beyond conditions and something we commonly see athletes and non-athletes using for comfort and health.

There are many benefits here to explore!

What Are Compression Socks?

Most people have seen compression socks to some degree.

Maybe it was on a long airplane ride where the cabin pressure is different.

It could also be during intense athletic competition.

Compression socks are socks that are snugger than regular socks to help alleviate the muscles and promote blood flow.

They come in a lot of different shapes and sizes to treat different areas of the lower extremities.

There are socks that focus on the overall calf to the foot or ones that stop at the ankle.

There are different degrees of compression and even how the compression is displaced through the sock.

Types of Compression Socks

  • Graduated compression socks work to be the most compression at the bottom and gradually ease as it gets towards the calf or top of the sock.
  • Anti-Embolism compression socks are specifically for people that are at risk for deep vein thrombosis. This is a chronic condition that can result in blood clots.
  • Non-Medical Support is when athletes use them for recovery or when you see people wearing them on planes as mentioned.

Benefits of Compression Socks

Now understand what compression socks do and why they may be used.

Let’s talk about how they can actually be incorporated into people’s lives.

There aren’t a lot of drawbacks when it comes to wearing them but there are a lot of positives.

This is why they are a popular option for many.

Promotes Blood Flow

Compression socks serve the purpose of applying pressure to specific areas to increase blood flow and circulation.

This in turn creates many benefits such as faster recovery for muscles.

Better recovery assists with any discomfort and swelling that comes from the use or chronic conditions.

It is also important for people who sit in wheelchairs and can’t get the same activity levels in their legs as someone who can walk.

Decreases Swelling

We just mentioned decreased swelling but it’s worth looking at from a different angle than blood flow.

The compression also prevents the area from swelling by physically reducing the area it can swell into.

Similar to how a sprained ankle is taped up immediately.

With someone that has a condition like Peripheral Edema, the compression helps get the blood back and forth from the legs or feet to the heart.

Edema is when there is more fluid in the body tissue than normal.

Prevents Blood Clots

Deep vein thrombosis of DVT causes swelling in the legs because one or more blood clots are forming.

This is usually caused by other medical conditions.

Sometimes there can be no symptoms while in other cases there is mild to severe pain.

Developing blood clots in general are dangerous if they break loose and travel to the lungs.

This is where compression socks can be medically distributed to keep circulation going.

Potential Issues

As with anything, there are drawbacks.

There are a few things to consider when it comes to getting compression socks and thinking of which makes the most sense for you.

Where it concerns anything medically related, always consult a doctor.

Wrong Fit

Because of the different types of compression socks and the levels of compression, it is very easy to find the wrong fit or size.

This not only will not reflect the positive benefits listed above but may work in a negative way.

Compression that is too tight can cut off your circulation completely rather than help endorse it.

That’s why it’s also important to differentiate men’s specific compression socks from women’s.

Wearing Them Correctly

Compression socks may actually fit fine but if they are put on the wrong way then it’s possible they won’t feel that way.

Having wrinkles or areas that overlap is just one way that they could be put on incorrectly.

Buying Quality

Not every compression sock out there is quality and can do what it claims to do.

Investing in the right compression socks and companies that have positive reviews is key to ensuring the benefits of wearing them.

Finding Your Fit

Compression socks really can be for everyone.

However, anyone who suffers from chronic conditions that result in leg pain should really consider this approach.

After consulting a doctor it is an approach that can offer immediate and long-term comfort.

Combining it with other practices can reduce pain and physical inflammation.

As long as the right type and level of compression are prescribed there are minimal downsides to wearing compression socks.

That’s why we see athletes, pregnant women, and those exposed to long plane rides getting ahead of the swelling and wearing theirs.

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