by Dr. Steven Waldman
Compression socks can be miracle workers. They are a relatively harmless treatment method that have very little side-effects. Yes, they may be hard to get on, but overall their benefits can truly outweigh this slight negative. To understand a little bit about why compression socks work, lets take a quick look at your blood vessels.
There are two types of blood vessels in your body; arteries and veins. Arteries take oxygenated blood away (think A, AWAY) from the heart to all over the body to provide oxygen and other vital entities your live tissue needs. Veins do the opposite, they take the more depleted or used up blood back to the lungs and heart. In the arteries, the heart helps pump the blood to the body. This is quite easy for the body to do in your legs as gravity helps! However, when blood needs to pump back up your legs to the heart, it must work against gravity. The veins in your legs are special to help in this regard, they have valves in them to keep the blood from flowing back down with each pulse. The problem is that as we age, the ability for your vein’s valves to hold the blood up can begin to fail. When this system in veins begins to fail, the blood begins to pool in your legs and edema (swelling) will result. Diabetic and obese patients are highly prone to this occurring. Also, if you are a patient that has had a vein harvested in your legs (happens in a variety of surgical procedures) you are also highly likely to experience this.
Therefore, if you suffer from abnormal swelling in your legs, compression socks (and in some cases medical grade stockings) can be very beneficial. The idea is that the pressure they provide will minimize the swelling that is associated with your condition. In the morning after laying in bed when gravity has yet to take a toll on your legs for the day, your legs and feet will be their least swollen. This is the optimal time to put on the compression. From here, the compression will resist any swelling that occurs throughout the day in almost everyone. Compression can help reduce pain from swelling, cramping from swelling, and even the incidence of venous distention ulcers (a dangerous chronic condition in obese and diabetic patients in which swelling can cause ulceration). If you suffer from swelling in your legs throughout the day, set up a time to come see us and see what type of compression we suggest for you here at Milwaukee Foot Specialists!