Swelling is one of the most common symptoms of many conditions that affect the leg, but why? The answer has to do with gravity. While standing, your legs become the lowest points of your body. This means that the body has to work extra hard to pump blood back up the legs and towards the heart. In healthy patients with good circulation this is easy. For those with circulation problems, particularly vein problems, things become more challenging. Compression therapy for the legs, ankles, and feet helps!
When blood has a hard time making it back up the legs the condition is known as venous reflux or venous stasis. It’s usually caused by damage to the one-way valves inside the long veins of the legs. When these valves aren’t working properly blood begins to drip back down towards the feet. This is ultimately what causes the swelling and pain affecting millions of patients worldwide.
In the vast majority of cases these symptoms are due to this reversed flow (venous reflux). Compression socks can help. By squeezing the feet, ankles, and calves, these specialty garments force blood back up the legs and towards the heart. It’s a simple yet effective drug-free treatment that almost any patient can benefit from.
Compression therapy for legs, ankles, and feet:
Compression socks only work if you wear them, however. Additionally, they must be worn correctly. When putting them on make sure there aren’t any wrinkles or creases. These can put focused pressure on the skin and potentially cause further problems. You also have to select the length that’s right for the severity of your condition. Compression socks are available in ankle, knee high, and thigh high varieties. In general, the worse your condition is, the higher the sock you’ll need.
But how long should you wear them? Again, this depends on the severity of your symptoms and your doctor’s advice. Many patients who experience swelling and pain on a daily basis choose to wear compression garments all day, removing them only to sleep. Many doctors make similar recommendations to patients with a history of blood clots in their leg veins.
All of this being said, anyone who wants to improve their lower extremity circulation can benefit from compression garments of some type. Many people who work in professions which involve standing for long periods on hard surfaces wear them daily.