Compression socks are not like regular socks. They are designed to create pressure around a person’s lower leg and feet to help reduce swelling from a variety of conditions. They are a popular symptom-management item often prescribed by doctors. Compression socks come in multiple compression levels. The lightest level of compression is 8-15 mmHg and the highest level—which requires a doctor’s prescription—is 30-40 mmHg. These numbers simply describe the intensity of the pressure the socks apply to the wearer’s ankles, legs, and feet. While many people use and trust compression socks, others are left with the same question: How do compression socks work for swelling? Check out this guide on the ways compression acts to reduce swelling.
They keep blood moving
Compression socks work to keep the blood moving in your legs. By squeezing your legs gently, they encourage blood to flow from your legs and back up to your heart. This may help to prevent blood from pooling in the veins in your feet and lower legs, thus reducing swelling.
They change the way your veins work
Compression socks may change the diameter of your major veins. When compression socks improve the blood flow in your legs, what they are doing is encouraging an increase in the velocity and amount of blood flowing. This process decreases the diameter of blood flowing at once, eliminating the need for expanded veins.
They prevent blood from pooling
Compression socks work to help prevent blood from flowing downward and becoming stuck or pooling in the feet or into other veins. With blood flowing normally, pools are cut down and blood is encouraged to keep flowing down into the feet and then back up to the heart, as normal.
They generate different results depending on the type of sock
Various compression socks work in slightly different ways. All compression gear is designed to encourage blood flow and reduce swelling. Socks that are taller, such as toeless compression thigh highs, help to limit swelling in the lower leg by reducing fluid buildup and blood pooling. Socks that are shorter focus the pressure mainly on the ankle to prevent these same issues in the feet.
Talk to your doctor if you think compression may be a good option to manage swelling in your lower legs and feet.