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Choosing the Proper Compression Socks/Stockings for You

Choosing the Proper Compression Socks/Stockings for You

By Kevin Cleary

Our bodies are made up of several major systems that include the digestive system, respiratory system, the nervous system, skeletal/muscular system, and the circulatory system. All these systems work together in order for our bodies to operate properly. When one system is compromised or injured the other systems need assistance. Our circulatory system depends on the system to properly circulate our blood. If a medical condition or injury compromises disability our blood does not circulate properly and can even pool in areas of our body that can be dangerous. To aid with the circulation in our lower extremities, the use of compression socks can be necessary.

Causes of Poor Circulation

Reasons for circulatory problems can vary. They can include medical disorders or acute injuries, which can hamper our body’s ability to circulate our blood. One of the major medical causes is diabetes. Diabetes is an increase of glucose in the blood and this increase can build up in the walls of the blood vessels and narrow the pathways. The University Of Rochester Medical Center reports that diabetics are two times greater to suffer from heart attack or stroke from atherosclerosis. This condition, atherosclerosis, is a leading factor in Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) which doesn’t allow enough blood to flow into the legs causing intermittent claudication. This poor circulation can lead to swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet. Injuries can also lead a compromised circulatory system. Acute paralysis and other injuries, affect the circulatory system because our muscles aren’t able to aid in the pumping of blood in our extremities (especially the feet). The muscles, in and around our feet and legs help push the blood through our veins back to our hearts. When these occasions occur we need to help our body circulate our blood. Also, doctors may require them after surgery in order to prevent life-threatening blood clots.

How Do Compression Socks Work?

Compression socks mimic your muscles ability to pump blood up out of your legs against gravity. Depending on your condition, there are different types of stockings. Everything from diabetic/compression socks to knee-high stockings to thigh high versions. They work by using graduated compression which means the compression is tighter at your toes and gradually lessens up your foot and legs. The stockings have varying degrees of compression which allows your doctor to determine which is appropriate for your condition. They are rated by mmHg, which means millimeters in mercury. This is how we rate our barometric pressure and it’s this pressure which helps recirculate blood out of our legs.

What Types of Compression Socks Are Available?

Identifying your condition will determine the type of compression stocking you need. Whether it’s caused by diabetes, PAD, or an injury your doctor will determine the type of compression sock/stocking that is required. Compression socks having low end rating of 8mmHg and can be rated as high as 32mmHg. Compression socks look just like every day athletic/dress socks, but with the added benefit of compression. Jobst Activewear manufactures closed toe and open toe knee-high stockings for active wear and dress. The Jobst Sensifoot and the Juzo Silver Sole offer mild compression in the range of 8-16mmHg for athletic people. For patients that require additional compression, knee-high stockings may be recommended by your doctor. Jobst and Juzo offer knee-high compression socks for both men and women in a range from 8-40mmHg. Medline offers the Curad Hospital-Quality knee-high compression stockings , even one with a side zipper. Venosan USA makes the Microfiberline/Silverline for men and women. For those that require compression higher on the leg, there is a thigh high option. These are available in both open and closed toe options and there is even a pantyhose version for women ( Juzo Compression Pantyhose ).

How Long Should I Wear My Compression Socks/Stockings?

According to veindirectory.org, compression stockings should be worn daily until the risk of blood clots is eliminated or as long as their condition requires. Many hospital’s protocols require patients to be fitted with compression stockings, especially those who can’t ambulate. They should be put on in the morning (preferably before you get out of bed) and be removed at night. It is suggested that patients try to elevate their feet at night while not wearing their compression stockings. While some patients are required to wear compression socks/stockings while their condition exists, some people must wear them for years or for life.