Best Compression Socks For Swelling
Do you have swollen, heavy feeling feet and legs? Are you tired of your edema? Then you need to be wearing compression socks. With the ability to both prevent and treat edema, compression socks for edema are simply a must have. They can cause a huge improvement in your leg health. In this guide, we outline the benefits of wearing compression stockings for edema, and provide you with the best compression socks for swelling feet.
What Is Edema?
Edema is the term given to swelling in the body caused by the pooling of fluids. Most common in the lower legs and hands, chest and abdomen, for the purposes of this guide we are only interested in swelling of the feet, ankles and legs which is also referred to as peripheral edema.
Most common in the lower legs due to the force of gravity, peripheral edema can be very uncomfortable and can in some cases be an indication of something more serious.
There are a variety of conditions that can cause edema, including:
- Venous insufficiency
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Long periods of immobilization, for example travel
Compression Socks For Swelling
Wearing compression socks is an effective means to prevent and treat edema because of the increases in blood circulation they cause.
Graduated compression socks provide compression to the feet and lower legs. They are generally tightest around the ankles, and have reducing compression strength up the leg to the top of the sock.
The compression helps to promote blood circulation in a couple of ways. By squeezing on the legs, the veins in the legs are compressed. This reduces their cross-sectional area, which increases the velocity of the blood flow. As the actual volume of blood in the veins remains the same but the area in which it has to flow is decreased, the blood is forced to flow faster.
The other way compression socks help increase blood flow is through the graduated compression. By having reducing pressure up the leg, they effectively guide the blood to flow away from the feet back towards the heart. This helps the body overcome the force of gravity, and allows it to push the blood upwards.
Another type of compression stockings, known as ted hose or anti-embolism stockings, is for the most part not suitable for treating edema. They are designed specifically to help non-ambulatory patients, that is those who spend 95% of their time lying down, reduce their risk of developing DVT. Their compression strength is less than graduated compression socks, and is not enough to effectively treat and prevent the swelling of the feet and legs in active people. There is however evidence to suggest that they can be used to prevent edema from occurring in patients recovering from surgery.
How Will Compression Socks Help Swelling?
Graduated compression can help to both prevent and treat edema/swelling of the feet and legs. The compression itself helps to prevent the feet and or legs from swelling. By keeping a squeeze on the legs, they have no room to expand or swell into.
The increased blood circulation compression socks cause can both reduce the likelihood of swelling occurring and also reduce any swelling that already exists. As edema in the legs and feet is generally caused by a lack of blood circulation or venous insufficiency, compression socks can be an effective tool. In fact, according to the Cleveland Clinic, "wearing compression stockings to help push fluid out of the legs, is the most effective treatment."
Compression Socks Or Stockings For Edema: Is There A Difference?
There are a variety of different terms given to compression socks which you may be aware of. These include:
- support stockings for swollen legs
- compression hose for swollen ankles
- support socks for swollen feet and legs
- compression stockings for edema
All of these terms are used interchangeably, and are essentially the same thing. The main obvious difference between them is the length of the garment. They all come in two main lengths, knee-length and thigh-length, though you can also find full-length compression pantyhose. What makes it confusing is that, except for full-length pantyhose, they are still referred to as either socks or stockings.
So the question is not, should I be using compression socks or compression stockings for swelling, but which length is the most appropriate.
This is easy to answer. As the edema is most common as swelling of the feet, ankles or lower legs, knee-length compression socks are the most appropriate. Though, if you have swelling above the knee, the thigh-length or full-length will be more appropriate.
More on the different types of compression socks
Which Strength Compression Socks For Swelling Is Best?
The strength of the compression stockings for swelling are much more important. Compression socks and stockings come in four main strength categories. These are 8-15mmHg, 15-20mmHg, 20-30mmHg and 30-40mmHg. The units mmHg stand for millimeters of mercury, which is the unit used to express compression strength. As graduated compression socks have a gradient of compression, the strength is described as a range. For example, 20-30 mmHg socks will have a strength of 30 mmHg around the ankle, and 20 mmHg at the top of the socks.
For the purposes of treating edema, 8-15mmHg compression will be insufficient. The two strengths which are most common are 15-20mmHg and 20-30mmHg. 30-40mmHg compression socks will require a prescription from a doctor.
If you are unsure which compression strength is suitable for you, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a medical professional. However, a good starting strength will be 15-20 mmHg. If this strength proves to be ineffective at treating your swelling, then increase the strength to 20-30mmHg. This strength of compression will likely be highly effective and has been shown to be effective at treating chronic leg edema. It will however feel a little uncomfortable if you have never worn compression socks before.
Dangers Of Wearing Compression Stockings
Compression socks are not suitable for everyone. In some cases they can actually constrict and reduce the flow of blood. For example people with peripheral artery disease should not wear compression stockings. In most cases however they are perfectly safe. If you have never worn compression socks before, it is recommended that you ask your doctor first to ensure your safety.
Best Compression Socks For Edema
Compression socks have come a long way in recent years. While in the past compression socks and stockings would remind you of something your grandmother would wear, there are now brands selling effective compression socks for edema which are also fashionable.
Though when it comes to treating edema, style should not be a priority. The most reputable and best known brands of compression socks focus on the quality of the compression over appearance.
Compression socks can be purchased on all major stores and drug stores. However, by far the most convenient is to purchase them through Amazon. Now, all of the major brands sell on Amazon which is great for you because it means more savings!
When it comes to choosing the best compression socks for swelling, one of the most important factors to consider is the fit.
The best brands on Amazon selling compression socks all have accurate sizing chart and high customer feedback relation to the fit meeting expectations.
So what are the best compression socks for swollen feet and legs? Out of the hundreds of different socks and stockings to choose from, there are three brands which stand out. Their overall quality is the best, as is their comfort and durability. These three brands are Truform, Therafirm, and Futuro.
Alternatively, if you prefer not to sacrifice your style, there are two brands which sell fashionable and stylish compression socks which are still excellent for treating edema. These are Sockwell and VIM & VIGR. Both produce high quality compression socks which will more that meet your needs. If in doubt, take a look through the customer reviews and you will quickly be convinced as to the effectiveness of these socks. In fact, our favorite of the best compression stockings for edema are those by Sockwell.
Compression Stockings For Edema: The Bottom Line
The best compression socks for swollen feet and legs will make a large impact on your leg health. With the benefits of wearing compression socks, there is a lot to be gained. If you have any more questions about wearing compression socks for edema (or compression socks for swelling), please feel free to leave a comment below.