Compression therapy involves the use of compression socks or stockings to promote healthy blood circulation in your legs and feet. The elastic hosiery is designed so it’s tightest at the ankle and loosens gradually higher on the leg. They work by compressing surface veins, which helps to maintain steady blood flow back to the heart.
Compression stockings are a form of self-care therapy for varicose veins, spider veins, and chronic venous insufficiency. Your physician may recommend them during the day to help relieve serious symptoms of varicose veins, including:
- Fatigue and pain
- Aching or heavy legs
- Restless legs
- Swollen ankles
- Night cramps
Mild symptoms of swelling and aching can be successfully managed using regular, cost-effective thigh-high, knee-high, or panty hose compression stockings.
How Compression Therapy Works
Your veins function best when lying in a horizontal position as opposed to when standing or sitting, especially when your valves are damaged. In the mornings, your calves and ankles usually feel fine, and only get heavy and swollen later in the day.
If you wear your compression socks in the morning before lowering your legs to get out of bed, you can maintain the proper function of the valves, promoting healthy blood flow in your legs all day.
Finding the Right Compression Level
As effective as compression therapy may be for managing varicose veins symptoms, you should avoid wearing the socks unless your doctor recommends them and helps you find the right fit for you. If you choose the wrong size, the socks can restrict blood flow, making the symptoms worse.
The different levels of compression include:
- Mild compression – for mild cases of chronic venous insufficiency
- Moderate compression – help to manage common symptoms of varicose or spider veins
- Firm or extra firm compression – recommended for serious venous diseases like leg ulcers, deep vein thrombosis, and lymphatic edema
Choosing the right compression level is vital for successful compression therapy and optimal comfort. Your physician can help you find the best size for your case.