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Compression socks – what you need to know

Sometimes your body may retain fluid in a specific area, such as your legs. This swelling is referred to as edema. If you have edema, compression socks may be recommended by your Doctor as part of a treatment plan. They improve blood flow (circulation) in your legs by gently squeezing your legs to move blood upwards, back towards your centre mass. This helps reduce or prevent edema and, to a lesser extent, blood clots, especially after surgery or injury, and when you are less active.

There are several situations when compression socks may be helpful, including varicose veins, spider veins, edema, chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), lymphedema, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

If you have been advised by your Doctor to wear compression socks, wear them all day and remove them before bedtime. If you haven’t worn them for a day or two, it may become difficult to put them on. Always put them on first thing in the morning, before getting out of bed, when your legs should have the least amount of swelling. They are designed to fit snugly so can be difficult to roll onto your foot and leg. Some tips for putting them on: Use a little baby powder or cornstarch on your legs to help slide the stockings up. Wearing rubber gloves may also give you better grip as you roll them on and protect the socks from tears from fingernails or jewelry. The socks should feel tight around your legs, with the most pressure being around your ankles and less pressure higher up toward the knee.

Compression socks should be washed each day after use, with mild soap and water, then air dried, so you will need at least 2 pairs for everyday use. Replace your socks every 3-6 months, as the elastic will wear out and become less effective.

Happily, compression socks do not look like bandages or medical devices – they just look like regular socks, so no one but you will know why you are wearing them. There are many different types of compression stockings. You can find them in different pressures, from light to strong, different lengths, from knee-high to top of the thigh and in many thicknesses, materials and colours. Life Brand has a range of light and medium compression socks and hosiery for both men and women, including the popular Ladies’ Compression Sheer Knee Highs.

Ask your Doctor about what pressure and size would be right for you. You may also want to get a prescription and receipt – you may be able to claim them on your insurance. Your Doctor will need to measure you and provide a new prescription yearly, especially if you gain or lose weight.

Most importantly, if your Doctor tells you to wear compression socks, it’s important for your leg health to do so every day. The small hassle in putting them on and removing them is a small price to pay for the health benefits they bring you.