Although it may look like any other type of sock or stocking, compression hosiery provides subtle but significant medical benefits compared to its conventional counterparts.
How compression hosiery helps
Movement of the legs during walking and other forms of exercise helps ensure that the blood is efficiently returned from the feet to the heart. Whenever there is a decrease in activity levels, blood can start to pool in the lower limbs and cause a build up of fluid in the tissues. When such build up is localized, it is often referred to as peripheral edema. Generalized fluid accumulation, in contrast, is known as anasarca. Breakdown and loss of elasticity in the veins or lymphatic system of the feet and legs is another common cause of peripheral edema.
Any condition in which fluid accumulates in the tissues may potentially benefit from compression hosiery or stockings. These products are designed to distribute a slight and often graduated increase in pressure over the foot or leg in order to encourage proper circulation and prevent fluid accumulation. Such improvements in circulation prevent complications such as pain, breakdown of the skin in fluid-filled areas and the development of blood clots.
Conditions treated with compression hosiery
Both short and long-term changes in the efficacy of blood flow from the lower limbs can benefit from compression hosiery. Long flights, for example, are associated with periods of immobility with the legs in a gravity-dependent position. In addition to the pain and discomfort that can arise from peripheral edema associated with long flights, passengers are at an increased risk of developing medically significant blood clots. By wearing compression stockings, long-haul passengers increase their comfort while decreasing their chances of serious health conditions.
Similarly, a short-term decrease in activity levels due to a medical procedure or during a hospital stay pre-disposes many patients to the formation of blood clots. As such, many patients are fitted with a type of compression hosiery often referred to as T.E.D. socks during their recovery.
Chronic conditions that benefit from the use of compression hosiery include venous stasis and venous insufficiency. Varicose veins are an important risk factor for the development of venous insufficiency. Compression stockings can help prevent varicose veins from getting worse or developing into venous insufficiency. Compression stockings can also be an important part of diabetes foot care.
Compression hosiery is designed in a variety of styles and colors to suit any situation. Whereas hospitalized patients are often fitted with a simple functional design, most compression stockings are worn as regular attire for patients in their daily lives. With this in mind, compression hosiery is created as both socks and stockings of various lengths.
The particular style recommended for each patient will depend both on the nature and severity of the particular condition being treated and the patient’s personal preference. For many patients, calf or knee length socks or hosiery are suitable and comfortable. For some patients, thigh-high or full length hosiery is preferable.
Finding your perfect compression hosiery
While this article is intended to be informative, it cannot take the place of professional medical advise. If you are concerned about a medical condition that may benefit from the use of compression stockings, please contact a health care professional near your or call American Foot and Leg Specialists.
American Foot and Leg Specialists have four locations in Georgia. With offices in Fayetteville, Forest Park, Locust Grove, and Stockbridge; American Foot and Leg Specialists are proud to serve the South Atlanta Metro area including Fulton County, Cobb County, Douglas County, Fayette County, Henry County, and Clayton County. Our hours are 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday thru Friday.