While most of us think of compression socks as being for the older population, with varicose veins and swollen legs, compression therapy is certainly useful beyond just those situations. Compression sock technology advances and increased choices in more fashionable colours and fabrics have coincided with more people utilizing them in daily life.
What is compression therapy?
Compression therapy assists with the management of venous diseases and disorders of the body. In a normal, healthy leg, the calf muscle contracts as you walk to gently squeeze the veins in the lower leg, pushing blood back up to the heart. Veins have one-way valves that move blood only towards the heart. When venous disease is present, the valves become widened or leaky, resulting in impaired venous blood flow. This leads to pooling of the blood and swelling in the legs. Compression therapy is often recommended by your physician to treat these symptoms and is also used to treat venous stasis skin changes, varicose veins, and post-venous surgery.
How does compression therapy work?
Medical compression stockings provide graduated levels of compression up the leg to assist in the movement of venous blood. When the valves in the veins of the legs are compromised, or the calf muscle is unable to pump effectively, the veins are unable to effectively move the blood back to the heart for re-oxygenation. External compression gently squeezes the walls of the veins together, closing the leaky valves and moving the blood up towards the heart.
Additional uses for compression socks:
In addition to medical needs for compression therapy, there are three situational uses for compression socks:
- Travel — including flying, train, and long-distance car trips
- Performance and recovery — some research suggests that compression may reduce muscle vibration, which can, in turn, reduce muscle fatigue
- Working on your feet — compression socks improve blood flow, which can ease swollen or achy legs after long days on your feet
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What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are part of the spectrum of chronic vein issues. They may appear as bulging or prominent blue protrusions under the skin of the leg. Severe cases can mean changes in skin texture, ulceration, pain, and permanent changes in discolouration of the skin. According to the Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery, varicose veins are common and approximately 20 percent of Canadian adults suffer from varicosities. The severity of varicose veins varies depending on several factors including heredity, occupation, age, pregnancy, obesity, and lifestyle. Women are more likely to suffer from varicose veins, representing 60% of the patient population.
Symptoms of varicose veins
Talk to your doctor about your potential treatment options, including compression stockings, if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Spider veins
- Tired, heavy feeling legs
- Swelling in the ankles or feet
- Skin discolouration
- Signs of varicose veins
Compression therapy for varicose veins
Currently, there are no medications that can reduce or repair varicose veins, but compression therapy is highly recommended to both reduce the symptoms of varicose veins and slow the progression of the problem. Doctors may also recommend surgical procedures in some cases.
Many of our Canadian Certified Pedorthists at SoleScience are certified SIGVARIS compression fitters. View our selection of over-the-counter and medical-grade compression stockings to get you started. For more information, or to book an appointment to discuss your options for compression therapy, contact your SoleScience Pedorthist today!