Compression Socks for Varicose Veins: Your Complete Guide
Suffering from varicose veins can be painful on top of the aesthetic effects. While preventing vein disease from worsening, most patients are also looking for ways to relieve the symptoms of varicose veins, which include aching, swelling and cramping.
Are compression socks useful for patients suffering from varicose veins? Thanks to the pressure they help apply on the area affected, compression socks can be a great help in relieving symptoms and can combine with other remedies to treat varicose veins.
In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of using compression socks, how to wear them for best results, and which type of socks are best for this particular condition. We’ll also first explain what varicose veins are and what causes them in the first place.
What are varicose veins and what causes them?
Venous insufficiency is the underlying health condition that is linked to having varicose veins. It means that your veins are unable to send blood from the limbs back to the heart, causing it to pool in the veins in your legs. This is usually caused by weakened or damaged valves within the veins.
With all the blood stuck in the veins, they become enlarged, stretching from the increased pressure. In time, this weakens the walls of the veins and further damages the valves, leading to varicose veins.
There are some specific high-risk scenarios where patients can develop varicose veins. They include:
- Older age;
- Lack of physical activity;
- Leg injuries;
- Pregnancy and being female in general;
- Taking oral contraceptive pills or hormone replacement treatments;
- Working on your feet for extended periods of time.
Once varicose veins develop, their symptoms include sores on the legs, rashes, color changes in the skin and various uncomfortable sensations which include burning, aching or a heavy feeling.
If left untreated, severe varicose veins can produce swelling that ultimately leads to more serious skin and tissue problems, such as sores and ulcers.
Do compression socks help with varicose veins?
Varicose vein treatment differs from one individual to the next and needs to address the underlying health and lifestyle factors that will have started the problem in the first place. However, elevating the legs and wearing compression socks helps treat varicose veins by addressing the immediate symptoms.
Moreover, compression socks use technology called "graduated compression" to squeeze the leg and subsequently, the veins, preventing blood from pooling in the veins. Wearing compression socks adapted to your particular situation, on a regular basis, can make a huge difference when dealing with varicose veins.
Additionally, elevating the legs and feet, keeping the feet above the level of the heart, helps influence the blood circulation. Doctors would recommend doing this 3 or 4 times a day for 15 minutes at a time.
Going further, there are a number of treatments that can work for more advanced varicose veins, depending on the situation the patient finds themselves in, but these should be discussed with a medical professional on a personalized basis.
How compression socks can help
Compression socks are a safe and effective way to reduce swelling in your legs, improve the blood circulation and lower your risk of getting blood clots. As such, they are a great tool against varicose veins and their symptoms, thanks to the pressure they allow you to apply to your lower limbs, while still continuing to adhere to your regular schedule and activities.
By gently squeezing the legs (depending on the level of compression chosen), compression socks promote blood flow back to your heart, reducing the risk of it pooling in your lower limbs.
For varicose veins, we recommend medical grade compression socks chosen with the help of a doctor that can confirm the level required for your condition.
How to wear compression socks for varicose veins
To get the most of wearing compression socks for varicose veins, here are some tips from medical specialists:
- Wear your compression socks the whole day and take them off before going to bed. Put them on again first thing in the morning;
- Always buy at least 2 pairs of the same style and compression level, so you can continue wearing your compression socks when one pair needs to be washed;
- Take extra care when washing the socks – ideally, you should wash them by hand at a low temperature and dry them away from direct heat;
- Reach for compression socks especially if you are likely to sit or stand for a long time, as these are the periods when you’ll be inactive for the longest, affecting your blood flow;
- Check in with your doctor to see how you’re progressing after you’ve been wearing compression socks regularly;
- Make sure you have your legs measured again every 3 to 6 months to ensure you are wearing the correct size, and also that your compression socks fit tightly and comfortably.
The best compression socks for varicose veins
When it comes to compression socks, it is important to find a pair that is comfortable and easy to wear. Firstly, you will need to understand compression levels, expressed in mmHg.
mmHg stands for millimeters of mercury – a metric of pressure commonly used within the medical field to measure blood pressure, among others. The mmHg rating for compression socks ranges from 15-20 (everyday wear, suitable for runners or frequent air travelers, for example) all the way up to 30-40 (i.e. “medical grade”).
Each of the compression levels can be suitable for those suffering from varicose veins:
- 15-20 mmHg socks offer moderate support that suits everyday wearers and can help with edema, discomfort during pregnancy or long periods of sitting down (e.g. long flights), or spider and varicose veins. They come in a broad range of styles that can look attractive at the same time as they’re working on your wellbeing.
- 20-30 mmHg socks offer moderate to firm support, commonly recommended for edema, Deep Vein Trombosis, lymphedema, pre- and post-surgical applications and moderate varicose veins.
- 30-40 mmHg socks are the highest level of compression you can get, usually prescribed by a doctor in cases of venous insufficiency, Deep Vein Thrombosis, lymphedema and dysautonomia. Their high level of pressure doesn’t take anything away from their looks, as we also offer them in a range of colors and styles.
When buying your compression socks for varicose veins, you should also pay attention to the quality of the material, whether the toe and heel are reinforced, and of course the style. If you’re going to be wearing them all day, accessorize with them, rather than think of them as a medical device.
This is where Vim & Vigr Compression Legwear comes in. We consistently push the envelope on creating stylish compression socks in a variety of sizes, fabrics, and compression levels. This ensures that you not only look great, but feel great too.
Treating varicose veins and regaining comfort
The use of compression stockings or socks during long periods of inactivity to avoid developing varicose veins, or to relieve the discomfort associated with this condition once it’s set in, is certified and recommended by medical professionals on a regular basis.
Reaching for a good-quality pair of compression stockings doesn’t need to be difficult: you can choose from our wide range of styles and sizes, depending on the level of compression your legs need. For those not needing a medical prescription and concerned chiefly with preventing venous insufficiency, we recommend looking at the lower compression levels. Once you have a prescription, choose from our medical grade socks and ensure your legs are feeling relieved and comfortable.
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