Should Diabetics Wear Compression Socks?

Perhaps you are aware that socks are not just socks by now. That socks do have medical use and purposes. However, this is not just an ordinary pair of socks; of course not. Compression socks deliver more than what it looks like they could.
The benefits of compression socks are not only for those with active lifestyles. It is also for individuals who need therapeutic and curative support around the lower extremities. Compression socks increase the legs’ strength which is an essential need.
With this being said, a person with diabetes will need all the help it can get when it comes to leg support. Since the initial effect of diabetes is in the blood vessels and nerves, care and support have to be immediately provided. One of these supports is pressure gear, specifically the use of compression socks.

1. Diabetic Complications

An individual with diabetes may suffer several complications from the said illness. It ranges from:
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Internal organ damages (liver, kidney, pancreas)
  • Neurological problems or disorders
  • Retinopathy
  • Hearing impairment
  • Skin conditions
  • Nerve damage in the upper and lower extremities (neuropathy)
And, of course, the list goes on.

2. Why Do Diabetics Need Compression Socks?

Neuropathy is the most prominent pain as diabetes progresses. It can easily interfere with mobility in an individual since pain is constant in the legs and feet. So the big question is, “Can diabetics wear compression socks?” The simple answer is, yes, an individual with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can wear compression socks.
The primary reason people with diabetes should wear compression socks is that oxygen-rich blood will circulate well within the legs and feet and back to the heart. But other than that, it has other therapeutic effects that are essential for a person dealing with diabetes.
Another reason why it is necessary for people with diabetes to wear compression socks is to avoid swelling at the legs, ankles, and feet. For instance, if you have a long flight, it would be best to wear compression socks when flying because sitting for long periods will trigger edema. On the other hand, if you are on your feet for long periods, it will also cause your feet to swell. Active people also need to wear compression socks for added protection from injuries.

3. How Do Compression Socks Help Diabetics

A person with diabetes would usually deal with peripheral neuropathy — which is a constant and painful ordeal. Nerve damage symptoms are:
  • Burning sensation
  • Throbbing and stabbing pain
  • Numbness, pins, and needles
  • Sensitive to almost unbearable to the touch
  • Edema (fluid retention)
  • Thick sensation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of balance
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Prone to foot injuries
Living with pain daily is distressful. In some way, wearing compression socks for diabetics relieves some of these symptomatic pain which is helpful in functioning and in doing menial tasks.
Another thing is that compression socks double as protection since people with diabetes are prone to skin ulcers and blisters. Skin lesions, even simple cuts, can trigger an infection, leading to unnecessary medical attention. Here are other ways compression socks help diabetics;

a.) Improve blood circulation

This will help increase blood flow at the lower extremities and with rapid recovery from wound infections, especially if the material of the compression socks is moisture-wicking.
b.) Prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
When there is poor blood flow, developing DVT is high. Wearing compression socks, as mentioned, will increase blood flow where it is needed.
c.) Decrease swelling
Swelling is still concerning poor circulation. Suffice it to say that the swelling will decrease if there is proper blood circulation.
d.) Pain management
Since there are damaged nerves in the lower extremities, all sorts of pain can be felt. Using compression socks will help ease these symptoms by squeezing the muscles and increasing blood flow. It can help with nerve pain, achy legs, and tired feet.

4. Compression Socks for Diabetic Feet

People with diabetes need to be careful when choosing compression socks. The first consideration should always be to consult your physician so you will be guided appropriately, especially when it comes to pressure level — which would always depend on your condition.
Now setting that aside, what are other things you need to consider when choosing compression socks? Here are the following considerations:
  • Pressure level - stick to the lowest, 8 to 15 mmHg or 15 to 20 mmHg. If you want a higher compression, consult your doctor. Also, it is recommended to wear graduated stockings so that the pressure level will not be too tight at the upper portion of the socks to avoid unnecessary restrictions on blood flow.
  • Moisture-wicking - sock material needs to be breathable to avoid moisture getting trapped inside. Otherwise, this may cause skin irritation and may lead to skin ulcers and even infections.
  • Proper fit - make sure that the socks or stockings are a good fit. If not, this may cause discomfort and may have an adverse effect on the lower extremities.
  • Padding at the soles - compression socks for people with diabetes has to have paddings for added protection against foot injuries. Other than that, it will also alleviate pain at the sole, which is an added relief to an individual.
  • Seamless - this is essential to be taken into consideration. Seams inside the socks may be abrasive to the skin, which can cause concussions in the feet area. Remember that diabetics cannot afford cuts and lesions on the skin because they can cause infections.

If you have diabetes, remember that it would always be best to consult your doctor before purchasing a pair of compression socks. Compression socks can be hazardous to you if you will not consider your condition, especially if you already have neuropathy.

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