By Alecsa Stewart
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) causes many people to suffer from blood clots forming in veins deep inside the body, among which in the lower limbs. It is very common for the legs to be the most affected, and therefore it makes sense that you should wonder, “Can compression stockings dislodge a clot?”
What are the potential benefits of compression stockings to those suffering from DVT and can compression socks help with blood clots and relieving its symptoms? Thanks to the way compression socks support your blood circulation and help reduce swelling and pain, they can be excellent tools to prevent DVT and help against blood clots. If you are worried about blood clots or have further questions, please consult with your healthcare provider.
In this article, we will cover:
- How can compression stockings dislodge a blood clot;
- The role of compression socks and stockings against DVT;
- How to wear compression socks for DVT;
- How to lower your risk of DVT by wearing compression garments;
- Choosing the best compression socks for your deep vein thrombosis.
Can Compression Stockings Dislodge a Blood Clot?
Ultimately, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a type of blood clot – a build-up of blood in your veins. Blood clots are created as the body's way to stop bleeding after a life threatening event. While blood clots slow down the bleeding, they can potentially cause a life-threatening situation themselves. When blood builds up in the veins, it’s counter-productive for the good functioning of your entire body. This is because blood needs to flow continuously and smoothly throughout your body, transporting oxygen to your lungs and keeping you alive.
However, if you develop DVT, blood will clot deep inside your body within the veins. You may also experience pain, tenderness, and swelling, along with the skin feeling warm to the touch. While anyone could develop DVT, this is more common after a surgery or trauma. It is a dangerous situation because a blood clot can travel to your lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism by blocking an artery.
The benefit of compression stockings once a blood clot has already developed is that the pressure they create pushes fluid up the leg. This can dislodge a clot and allow blood to flow freely again. In the longer term, compression stockings can prevent other clots from forming thanks to the way they stimulate blood flow.
How Do Compression Stockings Help with DVT?
Using compression stockings when you suffer from deep vein thrombosis can be extremely beneficial, as we’ve heard first hand from our brand ambassador, Jessica Gosdeck. Moreover, several studies have proven a strong link between wearing compression stockings and preventing DVT in hospitalized patients.
Patients wearing compression stockings were found to be less likely to develop DVT, but they’re not the only ones who can benefit from them. After all, it’s not just through surgery or trauma that you could develop DVT in the first place. Blood clots sometimes develop in the legs of people who go on flights for longer than four hours, because of the prolonged sitting in a confined space. As such, studies have shown that stockings prevent DVT and pulmonary embolism in these scenarios, too.
The key functionality of compression socks is the combination of pressure applied to the lower limbs and of the way they provide further protection to the legs. Through both, they support healthy blood flow, reducing the likelihood of clots forming, while also protecting vulnerable patients from any other issues such as edema, or simply cuts and grazes.
How to Wear Compression Socks for DVT
Patients who struggle with blood clots or DVT will be advised to look into wearing compression socks to stimulate their blood flow. By pushing fluid up the leg, these socks reduce the likelihood of the blood pooling and getting stuck in one particular point in the vein. They can also create enough pressure to hopefully dislodge a clot when it forms.
It’s important to note that compression socks and TED hose are different types of garments, as both exercise some pressure and both are associated with post-surgery patients that can develop DVT. When you are bedridden or moving very little, your doctor could prescribe TED hose, which put less pressure on your limbs (around 8-18 mm Hg). When you are on your feet and stand for long periods of time, however, blood can pool around your ankles and develop clots, and you will need more pressure to actually move it around and keep it flowing well.
In this second scenario, compression socks or stockings are more appropriate and they are the best items to wear specifically to combat DVT. They come in various levels of pressure, ranging from 15-20 mm Hg to 40-50 mm Hg. You can buy compression stockings without a prescription from a doctor, or you can get specific ones as recommended by your doctor.
You can wear compression socks to prevent DVT when you know you’re going to be an at-risk case: when you go on long flights, stand for long periods of time, or when you’re recovering from surgery and/or trauma. You can also wear them to help dislodge a clot that’s already formed, in addition to any advice suggested by your doctor.
How to Lower Your Risk of DVT with Compression Socks
In order to effectively lower your risk of DVT by wearing compression socks, here are some handy tips on picking the best ones for you:
- Ensure you know what level of compression socks you need – the pressure intensity can vary greatly between medical-level and those worn more casually;
- Make sure your socks fit well – you need to have the right size to get the benefit of the pressure, otherwise loose-fitting socks will not help reduce the risk of DVT;
- Try different materials and adapt them to your activity – while compression socks can be worn as casual, stylish items, they can also double up as functional socks for running or hiking, depending on the material used. For example, merino wool compression socks are ideal for hiking trips, thanks to their moisture wicking and temperature regulating properties, as well as to their compression action;
- Learn how to put on compression socks correctly to ensure they are as comfortable and as effective as possible;
- Don’t be afraid to try several sizes and styles before your find your favorite combinations.
How to Choose the Best Compression Socks for DVT
Whether you’re recovering from surgery or trauma, blood clots can form easily in the lower limbs after periods of inactivity or if the blood simply pools around your ankles or somewhere on the veins. The condition of deep vein thrombosis plagues many patients and it can develop into a dangerous, life threatening problem.
However, compression stocking and socks can provide a good way to prevent DVT and to help dislodge blood clots when they have formed. Through the pressure they apply onto the lower legs, they stimulate normal blood circulation and help reduce swelling, pain, itchiness or heat at skin level, etc. Compression socks can be medically prescribed or you can start off with lower pressure levels and work your way up, as needed.
Choosing the best compression socks doesn’t need to be difficult: we have a wide range of options, from the lowest to medical grade pressure levels, and in a variety of designs to suit your lifestyle and fashion interests. Moreover, by combining the beneficial effects of compression socks with other features like moisture wicking and temperature regulation, our nylon or merino wool socks can be your ideal companion for hikes, long walks, or runs. Remember to ensure they fit well and to ease yourself in – start by wearing them for a few hours at a time, and slowly build up until your legs are fully used to the compression!