Compression stockings are often recommended for leg vein disease and vein health–but they are not for everyone. It is best to see your vein doctor for an evaluation of your veins health before buying graduated compression socks. This way, you are sure to get the right amount of compression and be properly fitted. Also, with doctor’s guidance, you can avoid wearing these socks if they are not right for you.
When Compression Socks Are Unhealthy
Compression socks typically do more harm than good:
- • If you have severe vascular disease. Compression stockings are not indicated for serious PAD (peripheral artery disease), where plaque buildup has narrowed blood vessels, as the socks can further impede circulation.
- • If you have peripheral neuropathy. People with sensory problems may fail to notice if compression socks are too tight or wrinkled, which could interfere with proper leg circulation.
- • When worn at night. Typically compressions socks are put on in the morning before getting out of bed (when legs are slimmest, not yet swollen). They’re generally removed before going to bed, unless your doctor instructs otherwise.
- • When worn too tight (with a compression measurement that is too high). Compression pressure levels are measured in mmHg (millimeters of mercury). The lowest, mild level (8-15 mmHg) is safest for those without a doctor’s prescription. Higher levels of compression (moderate 15-20 mmHg, firm 20-30 mmHg, and extra firm 30-40 mmHg) should be worn exactly as instructed by your vein doctor. Wearing the wrong level of compression can negate any benefit of wearing the socks, and could even make your condition worse.
- • If you wear the wrong size. Socks are sized according to exact measurements of your ankles, knees, leg length and more.
- • If not donned smoothly. Any wrinkles in the socks can irritate skin or impede circulation, rather than helping. Socks should be rolled down all the way and rolled back up the leg once the toes are inserted. (You can purchase open toed socks if your doctor gives the ok.) There are also devices that make putting socks on correctly easier. Avoid causing runs or snags in the socks by keeping fingernails short and/or using special gloves to put the socks on and take off.
If your doctor’s instructions differ from this general information, be sure to heed his or her instructions.
Types of Leg Vein Symptoms that Benefit from Compression Socks
Compression socks can be part of the vein treatment plan for your needs if you suffer from:
- • Varicose veins
- • Spider veins
- • Swollen ankles (edema)
- • Leg circulation issues during pregnancy
- • Tired, achy legs
- • Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)
Those who are bedridden or recovering from surgery may also be prescribed compression socks. Some athletes swear by compression socks to improve performance, but this has yet to be proven. However, the socks can help legs feel less tired after a long workday or workout.
Find out if compression socks are right for you and learn the state of your vascular health. Contact Bellamah Vein Center in Missoula, Montana today.