What are Compression Stockings?
Compression stockings are socks that gently squeeze your legs like a cone. This graduated compression is greater at the ankles and lessens as the stocking reaches further up the leg. Compression stockings will help blood move up your legs to improve blood flow and prevent leg swelling, fatigue and achiness.
Who can benefit from Compression Stockings?
Compression Stockings can benefit those dealing with a number of circulatory issues in their lower legs. These conditions may be caused by a number of factors including prolonged sitting/standing activities, pregnancy, accident or trauma, internal metabolic disorders and frequent travel.
How do Compression Stockings work?
Compression stockings work by applying pressure to the lower legs, which reduces the diameter of distended veins. Compression of the legs and veins increases the speed at which the blood flows through your veins well as the effectiveness of the venous valves. As the stockings apply pressure to your tissues they prevent blood from flowing backward, which causes congestion, and reduces the ability for superficial veins to expand and overfill with blood.
When you walk, the natural contraction and relaxation of the muscles in your legs promote movement of blood through veins and back up to your heart. Compression stockings can act as a layer of muscle, assisting this process by gently squeezing a stretched vein; and allowing the valves to close. This encourages blood to continue traveling upward to your heart. Compression stockings help to restore blood flow in your lower legs to a normal state and aid in the promotion of regular circulation.
Why am I at risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis When Traveling?
Traveling for four hours or more can lead to an increased risk of blood clots forming in the veins of legs (deep vein thrombosis or DVT). People are traveling more and more, and for greater distances, by car or plane. Whether for personal or work travel, the problems of travel-related leg discomfort has increased dramatically in recent years. Our body’s movement has the unique ability of improving our blood flow, with prolonged positions during travel the blood circulation within the legs is reduced and your movement constrained. This decreased movement can cause many symptoms such as tired, heavy, fatigued legs and sometimes swelling in the feet and ankles. Prolonged sitting is also a main risk factor for the development of blood clots (thrombosis). These blood clots are potentially very dangerous as they can migrate through the blood stream to the lungs and result in a pulmonary embolism.
If any of your travel requires prolonged periods of sitting, whether by train, plane bus or car- you are at risk of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Besides activity (if possible during your travel), an effective way to minimize the risk of DVT and improve the comfort in your legs is by wearing graduated compression stockings. They help enhance the circulation in your legs and limit the pooling of blood and fluids in your legs during prolonged periods of sitting, standing or during travel.
Why Do I Get Varicose Veins When Pregnant?
In many cases, women who have had two or more full term pregnancies will develop varicose veins. Some symptoms are early warning signs for venous disorders and the potential development of varicose veins or other leg disorders. Symptoms include swollen legs and feet, tired aching legs and feelings of heaviness or fullness in your legs. You may be more pre-disposed if you have a personal or family history of varicose veins or circulation problems, lack of exercise during pregnancy, and have had more than one full term pregnancy.
Varicose veins occur when the small valves inside the vein are damaged and can no longer hold the blood up as it moves toward the heart. This pooling of blood in the legs causes veins to enlarge, which eventually become twisted and bulbous as they try to support this increased volume of blood. In some cases they can be quite sensitive and painful, in other cases you may notice smaller reddish/purple veins on the surface which are called spider veins. If left untreated discoloration of the skin can occur in the areas of the varicose veins, and in some cases there is a chance of developing a venous ulcer.
What’s the Process?
Compression stockings are usually included in most extended health insurance plans and will likely require a medical prescription from your family or walk in medical doctor. They are measured by levels or gradient of pressure depending on your condition, and will be custom measured by a certified stocking fitter on site. There are a variety of styles, sizes and fabrics to choose from that will best suit your daily activities and preferences.