Compression socks, or compression stockings, are special socks that are worn to relieve the veins and muscles of the legs, and to prevent the further development of varicose veins. They are also used by pregnant women to avoid swelling of the legs, travelers who sit for extended periods of time, and by patients who have undergone post venous surgery. Compression socks are tight fitting and help in the circulation of the blood from the ankles up. It is normal for the legs to feel heavy and tired because gravity pulls the blood towards the feet and somehow has a hard time being pumped back up and the compression socks provide pressure to help pump the blood back up.
Here are some ideas that may help you in choosing the right compression socks:
- Get the measurement of your legs and choose the corresponding compression socks that will fit you well. They should be tight enough to put pressure on the legs, but should not be too tight that the blood does not circulate anymore. If the socks leave a pressure mark after a while, they may be too tight for you.
- Aside from the size, compression socks have several compression levels, meaning they may have the same size, but different “tightness”. The socks’ compression levels are measured in millimeters of Mercury (mmHg), which is a unit of measurement for pressure. The different pressures are associated with specific needs of patients. Here are the different compression levels:
- Light compression measures from 8 mmHg to 15 mmHg. Use this to relieve fatigued legs if you spend long periods of time standing or sitting.
- Therapeutic compression measures from 15 mmHg to 20 mmHg. Use this if you have spider veins or minor varicose veins. If you undergo sclerotherapy or your legs have some minor swelling, this compression level is ideal.
- Light medical grade compression measures from 20 mmHg to 30 mmHg. Use this if you are pregnant and are most likely to develop varicose veins. You may also use this if your legs experience fatigue and feels heavy. This is also ideal for those with varicose veins without edema.
- Medium medical grade compression measures from 30 mmHg to 40 mmHg. This are tighter and are used for achy fatigued legs that have varicose veins. If you have undergone venous surgery, this is the ideal compression level. Lymphedema and venous ulcers are also relieved with this compression level.
- Heavy medical grade compression measures from 40 mmHg to 50 mmHg. You only use this if you have medical complications following venous operation, sclerotherapy, or from non healing varicose veins.
- Consult your doctor before buying compression socks. This is the best way to avoid any complication and to ensure you buy the right compression socks.
- Choose the color that you like. Although most brands offer basic colors such as black, brown, and blue.
- Choose the length of the compression socks. There are compression stockings that are knee high, thigh high or are in pantyhose style for women. There are also open toe and closed toe compression stockings, which women can choose from. Women who wear open toe shoes use open toe compression stockings.
Wear the ones that you feel comfortable with. Some may not be stylish, but in the long term, comfort is more important than style.