Compression Socks for Edema: Why and How to Use Them

Comfortable compression socks for edema

 

Swollen ankles, heavy feet… the feeling of growing edema is uncomfortable and unwelcome. Whether you’re suffering from pregnancy-induced edema, recovering after a long flight or simply wish to give your swollen legs and feet a rest, combatting these feelings is essential. This is where compression socks for edema can help give your blood circulation a boost and improve your wellbeing significantly.

Compression socks are one of the key ways to fight edema and improve your health and wellbeing. They can be used easily, taken with you on your travels, and come in a wide variety of styles and colors, from patterned to plain and more. Here is why you should use compression socks for leg edema, and our guide on how to make the most of them.

What is leg edema?

Edema is the swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in your body’s tissues. It is quite common in legs and feet, as well as ankles and arms, but it can appear all over your body.  The causes are varied: from medication to pregnancy, to underlying disease (congestive heart failure, kidney disease or cirrhosis of the liver).

Most often, leg edema affects those on their feet a lot, or people having travelled on a plane, due to the change in air pressure and lack of movement for a prolonged period of time. It can also come about when you’re pregnant or as a side-effect of pre-menstrual syndrome. Additionally, too much salty food can cause water retention, eventually leading to leg edema.

Medication that can lead to edema includes:

  • High blood pressure medications
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Steroid drugs
  • Estrogens
  • Certain diabetes medications.

Finally, even something so innocuous as ill-fitting shoes can cause your legs to swell, especially after spending a good amount of time in them.

Edema normally goes away on its own, but it can take time and – in the case of pregnancy edema – it can be extremely uncomfortable and persistent. This is why it’s preferable to address it as soon as you can, in ways that fit your lifestyle.

How can you combat swollen legs?

Edema in ankles and legs

The main situations in which an at-home remedy would be recommended for leg edema are those unrelated to a medical condition. You should also consult with your doctor if you are taking medication or know to have a medical condition, which has leg edema as a side-effect.

In order to address leg edema, you can try any or all of the following tips.

Stay hydrated

Although you might think that getting rid of water in your body is what’s needed, actually your body will hold on to water if it’s dehydrated. To reduce swelling, ensure you’re drinking adequate amounts of water (8-10 glasses every day).

Use compression socks

A good pair of compression socks has been proven to help reduce swelling by applying gentle pressure to your legs and ankles and supporting a good blood flow from your legs to your heart. They boost circulation, help prevent venous ulcers, and improve lymphatic drainage, among other benefits.

Take Epsom salt baths

Soaking for 15-20 minutes in magnesium sulphate may reduce swelling and inflammation.

Elevate your feet

To boost your blood flow, prop your feet on a few cushions and lie down on the sofa for a few minutes. You should also avoid standing for long periods of time.

Stay away from sodium

Reducing your salt intake can be beneficial against leg and overall body swelling. It’s worth taking a second look at packaging and the ingredients in your food, as there may be more sodium in your diet than you imagine.

Read more of our tips about how to combat swelling legs.

How to use compression socks for leg edema

Wearing compression socks for leg edema

Using compression socks for leg edema is a simple, effective, and portable solution which is also stylish. You will need to choose the best compression socks for edema that meet your particular requirements, like size, fabric, compression level and style. Here is our advice about picking a compression sock that’s right for you.

Check compression levels

Compression socks have different levels, from 8-15 mmHg up to 40-50 mmHg (measured in a unit of pressure). The lower the compression level, the lighter the effects. For an average person, we recommend 15-20 mmHg. However, if you have moderate swelling or are using compression socks for pregnancy edema, we suggest starting with 20-30 mmHg.

Try a few on for comfort

While the feeling of compression you’ll get from a good pair of socks will have a lasting positive benefit and may also make you feel great on the spot, not everyone finds it comfortable to wear compression socks all the time. In fact, you may be wondering how long to wear compression socks for edema specifically.

Doctors may prescribe compression socks to be worn all day, but this truly depends on your level of comfort and activity as well. When not wearing the compression socks, if possible, you should elevate your feet for best results.

Try a few types of compression socks and, once you find a pair you like, experiment with the length of time you keep them on until you find the ideal time for you.

Don’t overlook ease of use

Any type of compression material can be tough to handle and put on easily, so don’t overlook this. When choosing compression socks for edema, you want to find a pair that’s easy to pull on, rolling them up on your legs. It’s a good idea to double check a video for tips on how to do this.

Compression socks for pregnancy edema

Pregnant woman wearing compression socks

Pregnancy edema is a widespread phenomenon, and it affects women particularly during the third trimester. This is triggered by accumulated fluid in the body’s tissues, caused during pregnancy by the adrenal glands, which produce more of the hormones that make the body retain fluids (aldosterone and cortisol). 

In order to maintain a healthy blood circulation during pregnancy, we recommend staying active and well-nourished, as well as putting your feet up as much as possible. Additionally, wearing compression socks for edema during pregnancy will help reduce not just the swelling, but also aches and pains and the likelihood of developing varicose veins.

Especially when you’re unable to move around or change position, compression socks for pregnancy edema can be a genuine lifesaver.

Conclusion: Fight swollen legs thanks to compression socks

Overall, the key reasons we develop leg edema include our diet, our level of fitness and activity, and other influences such as the medication we may be on or important physiological changes such as pregnancy. There may also be times where we’re unable to keep moving or change positions, such as standing around at an event or being crammed into a plane seat on a long-haul flight.

In all these contexts, wearing compression socks for edema will prove a welcome relief from aches, pains, and swelling. Compression socks may also reduce your chances of developing varicose veins. Finally, as there is so much choice in terms of style and color, wearing them can actually be a fashion statement, too. Using compression socks for leg edema is one very effective method to treat and prevent swelling and pain every day while enjoying your lifestyle.

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