Compression socks are oftentimes prescribed to help alleviate symptoms of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, otherwise known as POTS. In this article, we will cover what POTS is, the benefits of compression socks for POTS, POTS symptom relief, and finally the best compression socks for POTS.
What is POTS?
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome is a form of Dysautonomia, a disorder of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system regulates functions of the body we don’t have to think about, such as heartbeat or breathing. People with POTS struggle directly with their heart rate increasing too rapidly upon sitting and standing. Johns Hopkins Medicine breaks it down this way:
- Postural: related to the position of your body
- Orthostatic: related to standing upright
- Tachycardia: increased heart rate
- Syndrome: a group of symptoms
It is prudent to note that researchers are still learning about POTS, and not much research has been done until recent years. Symptoms that have been associated with POTS are as follows:
- Lightheadedness (occasionally with fainting)
- Difficulty thinking and concentrating (brain fog)
- Intolerance of exercise
- Blurry vision
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome oftentimes takes years to diagnose because many other chronic conditions need to be ruled out first. It can be diagnosed with a 10-minute standing test or a tilt table test. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, POTS is described as:
- A specific group of symptoms that frequently occur when standing upright
- A heart rate increase from horizontal to standing (or as tested on a tilt table) of at least 30 beats per minute in adults, or at least 40 beats per minute in adolescents, measured during the first 10 minutes of standing
The Benefits of Compression Socks for POTS
Individuals with POTS have trouble with position change in relation to regulating their heartbeat. This is why “Postural” and “Tachycardia” are in the name. This does not allow circulation to flow correctly, allowing blood to pool in the feet and legs of many POTS patients. When a patient stands up, the blood rushes to their head, causing discomfort and the other symptoms mentioned before. Sitting for long periods can also inflame POTS symptoms. This is where compression socks for POTS come in.
Compression socks are used for circulation regulation. By using therapeutic pressure, they assist veins in moving blood through the body so it doesn't pool in the legs. This makes compression socks a great preventative tool for POTS symptoms. Since many of the symptoms are caused by this blood pooling and compression socks directly aid that.
How Compression Socks Help with POTS Symptoms
Compression socks will not cure POTS, but they can help to relieve many of the symptoms associated. They are able to provide this support through therapeutic graduated compression, as mentioned above.
What is graduated compression?
Graduated compression is tightest and the ankle and gently gets lighter towards the top of the garment. This helps to gently move blood from pooling and support existing veins, this also helps to prevent varicose veins. This is what helps to provide the benefits of compression socks for POTS.
Take it from one of our Vim & Vigr ambassadors with POTS, Madison Shreve.
@madisonshreve_ Reply to @indiajbradford @vimvigr #compressionsocks #pots #dysautonomia #spoonie #fyp #fmd #fainting #potsie #ci ♬ Watermelon Sugar - Harry Styles
How to Use Compression Socks for Pots
Compression socks are easy to use once you find the right ones, just put them on and you are ready to go! You can wear them for any length of time, as long as you are comfortable.
The recommended compression level for POTS is 20-30 mmHg or 30-40 mmHg depending on severity, mmHg stands for “millimeters of mercury” and is used to measure the “squeeze” or pressure that the socks provide. At Vim & VIgr, we have socks at the following 3 levels:
Support Level: Moderate
Ideal for all-day, every day wear. Offers moderate support to reduce ankle and leg swelling, ease tired and achy legs, and aid in muscle recovery.
Commonly used for travel, mild to moderate edema, pregnancy, spider and varicose veins.
Support Level: Moderate to Firm
20-30 mmHg is a medical grade compression level and often comes as a prescription or recommendation by a healthcare provider. Please consult with your healthcare provider before choosing this level of support.
Commonly used for moderate edema, lymphedema, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), pre and post-surgical applications, moderate spider and varicose veins.
Support Level: Firm
30-40 mmHg is a prescription compression level and is often prescribed by a doctor for treating health conditions such as venous insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and lymphedema. Please consult with your healthcare provider before choosing this level of support.
The Best POTS Compression Socks
Finding a compression sock that is comfortable is extremely important for those with POTS. This is because wearing compression socks is kind of like brushing your teeth, consistency matters! At Vim & Vigr, not only do we have 3 different compression levels to utilize, but we also have 6 different sizes and 4 different fabrics to choose from. This adds a “customizable” feel to your compression socks so they are perfect for you! Not only that, we design our socks to look stylish so you actually want to wear them every day!
Our 4 functional fabrics are as follows:
Our 200 needle count cotton blend is soft and made with natural fibers. The flexibility in our cotton fabric allows for our most spunky designs, and many customers report that their feet stay cool while wearing them - even in the summer months!
We use the highest quality (sustainably sourced) Merino Wool for our socks. This 200 needle count fabric is known for its moisture-wicking and temperature regulating ways. Customers love this fabric for everyday wear, and for outdoor activities!
For the longest time, we have knit our nylon socks on a 400 needle count machine, this left a high quality sleek feel to the sock, and a 4 way stretch that was unmatched. However, it limited our ability to make fun designs, and left a seam in the toe. In 2022, we released another version of our nylon sock called Choice Nylon. This uses the same fabric as our Classic Nylon socks, but leaves a softer feel and allows for more designs. All while eliminating the toe seam as well. We will be keeping our Classic and Choice Nylon around for a while, so let us know which one you like better!
We also offer leg sleeves in Nylon which offer a way for POTS patients a way to have their feet free but still benefit from compression.
Moisture Wick Nylon:
This high-quality nylon is also great for temperature regulation. It uses a different fabric than our Classic Nylon and Choice Nylon socks and is knit on a 400 needle count machine. These socks give the feeling of stockings and are loved by many of our customers!
Finding your perfect compression sock will take some trial and error. Luckily, we have a 100% satisfaction guarantee and allow free returns with no questions asked. When choosing a sock, we recommend looking at your lifestyle and health needs. To reiterate, POTS patients greatly benefit from 20-30 mmHg and 30-40 mmHg socks, consulting with a doctor is always a good idea as well. We cannot wait to see you looking good while feeling great!