Do Compression Socks Help with Swelling?

Tired, painful, and swelling legs and feet? Then there are days when you find it difficult to walk when you stand up from your bed or chair. If you think you are getting that old, it can be so, but you may have to consider a possible underlying problem with your condition.
Two scenarios that are commonly misunderstood are swelling and inflammation. There are, in fact, significant differences between the two.
Inflammation is a body’s defense mechanism when an injury, trauma, infection, or tissue damage occurs. It is a natural reaction that involves antibacterial faculties such as white blood cells, fluids, nutrients, oxygen, and whatnot to preserve the damaged tissues from infection.
On the other hand, swelling is an abnormal enlargement usually caused by fluid retention or inflammation. You may have swelling, but it doesn’t always mean there is inflammation. It could be due to edema or insufficient blood circulation in the lower extremities.

1. What Do Compression Socks Do for Swelling

Some causes of swelling may be addressed by using compression socks. Compression garments can only relieve the swelling and perhaps partially with the pain for more severe conditions.
You may be asking how or why does compression help swelling? The design idea of compression therapy, for instance, is to supply external pressure to the muscles and blood vessels. Regardless of the kind of compression therapy you receive, it still provides the same principle.
Compression socks reduce swelling by:
  • Improving blood circulation
  • Assisting with lymphatic drainage
  • Relieving stress on the legs, feet, and ankles
  • Preventing blood from pooling
  • Alleviating pain on the lower extremities
With the pressure that it provides, the muscle tissues constrict. So when blood vessels are dilated, it will reinforce them to reduce in size, which will help the blood flow return to normal. The compression socks will provide the same pressure to the lymph nodes, which will help the fluids flow through the lymphatic system.

2. Do Compression Socks Help Swelling During Pregnancy

Compression socks are a big help for pregnant women since many physiological changes happen to the body as pregnancy progresses.
These are the manifestations that take place in the body of a pregnant woman that contributes to leg swelling:
  • Production of bodily fluids
  • Added weight
  • Baby weight
When you sum up all of these factors, where the legs are the focal point of pressure, veins dilate, blood pooling happens, lymphatic drainage lessens. This is the reason why pregnant women, between the fifth and sixth months, ankle swelling starts to occur.
By wearing compression stockings that are up to the waistline, it will help the lower extremities with proper bodily functions.

3. Do Compression Socks Work for Edema

Edema is fluid retention which usually happens at the lower extremities. When there’s edema, fluid needed by the joints is suppressed, causing ankle, joints, and knee swelling. This occurs due to pregnancy, underlying diseases, or even particular medication. The same condition applies to edema in wearing compression socks to reduce swelling.
However, it would be best to remember that not all compression socks are created or manufactured equal. There are three different types of compression socks with varying levels of pressure that are for various needs.

Here are the three types of compression legwear:

a.) Non-medical support hosiery, or over-the-counter compression socks
This legwear is available at any pharmacy, drugstore, or even online. It doesn’t need any prescription because this has the lightest compression. It can relieve pain, fatigue, and swelling of the legs, ankle, and feet for individuals with no medical complications or condition.
b.) Graduated compression socks (stockings)
Graduated compression stockings apply the highest pressure at the ankle area, and the pressure gradually loosens to the way up. This is prescribed and fitted by a medical professional with corresponding instructions.
c.) Anti-embolism stockings
Anti-embolism stockings are for those who are or may be experiencing immobility. Although it also offers a gradient pressure, graduated compression socks are different from anti-embolism stockings in terms of pressure levels.

The degree of pressure is as follows:

a.) 15 to 20 mmHg – over-the-counter compression socks.
For treatment of mild swelling and fatigue due to the following:
  • Travel
  • Sports
  • Standing and sitting for extended periods
b.) 20 to 30 mmHg – medical grade class 1
This is the most extensively used prescription socks. For treatment, therapy, and assistance of:
  • Pregnant women
  • Varicose and spider veins
  • Sports
  • Travel
  • Specific surgeries
c.) 30 to 40 mmHg – medical grade class 2
This is for the treatment of moderate to severe leg problems such as:
  • Lymphedema
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
d.) 40 to 50 mmHg – medical grade class 3
This is the highest pressure level. This is specific for the treatment of:
  • Severe venous stasis
  • Lymphedema
  • Wound management

4. What is a TED Hose and How Does It Help with Swollen Legs

TED hose or Thrombo-Embolus Deterrent is another term for anti-embolism stockings. This is a specialized legwear for DVT to avoid blood clotting after surgery on the legs. Since DVT may lead to a more serious medical condition, pulmonary embolism (blood clotting in the lungs), the use of a TED hose can prevent this from happening.
You have to agree that there is more to compression socks, stockings, or legwear than you usually think. Although the only thing that it gives is compression, this support is essential not just for daily needs but also for those who need treatment and therapy for their legs.

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