In the age of Dr. Google, it’s hard to know what information is credible when it comes to your health. For every science-based recommendation you’ll encounter, there’s a marketing ploy promising wellness — often backed by nothing other than a hunch. So where on this spectrum do compression socks fall? The answer might surprise you.
What Are Compression Socks?
Also referred to as compression stockings, compression socks are a tool used in compression therapy. These garments consist of socks or sleeves made with compression materials designed to gently apply pressure to your legs for enhanced circulation. They’re meant to fit more snugly than regular socks, but shouldn’t feel so tight that they’re uncomfortable.
There are several types and strengths of compression socks available. Some feature graduated compression, with a tighter fit near the heel that loosens as the sock moves up your calf. Others have a tube-like fit, and sit on your lower leg without any material covering your feet.
Do Compression Socks Offer Real Benefits?
While there are indeed plenty of wellness marketing ploys to avoid, compression socks aren’t one of them. These garments improve your muscles’ pump system, enabling blood to flow back upwards after moving through your lower legs. This way, they can deliver a number of proven health benefits, and we have the empirical data to prove it.
For one, they’ve been shown to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in passengers on flights that are longer than five hours. Thorough research of over 50 studies also provides high-quality evidence supporting the use of compression socks for patients with chronic venous insufficiency. This condition occurs when the valves in your veins lose their ability to pump blood back to your heart, resulting in symptoms like varicose veins, leg cramping, and swelling.
Wearing compression stockings is also recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for:
- Swelling in the legs
- Leg aches and feeling of heaviness
- Overall blood clot prevention, especially during periods of inactivity (such as post-surgery)
Who Should Be Wearing Compression Socks?
Clearly, compression socks are backed by credible sources, including the team here at Vascular Surgical Associates. But that doesn’t mean everyone needs to be wearing them. In general, we recommend compression socks for people who experience leg pain or leg swelling, as well as anyone who sits, stands, or travels for long periods of time. Compression socks may also enhance performance in athletes and benefit pregnant women, though supporting data is limited for these uses.
Anyone can try compression socks without a doctor’s prescription, and they pose minimal risks. If you have health concerns such as an increased risk of blood clots or circulation issues, however, speak with your provider to make sure you’re a good candidate. Purchasing compression socks with a doctor’s prescription may also allow you to apply insurance benefits.
Schedule an Appointment With Vascular Surgical Associates
If you’re considering compression socks due to a venous condition, consult with one of our doctors for a personalized recommendation. Our providers specialize in venous diseases including varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency, and offer a range of treatment options and leading medical technology. Request an appointment online or by calling 770-423-0595.