Varicose veins may sometimes cause distressing burning sensations and pain in the affected area of the legs.
There are different therapeutic interventions for varicose veins, and wearing compression stockings is one of the treatment options. However, are compression stockings effective for varicose veins?
Read on to discover the types of compression stockings, studies that support its benefits, and how to choose one.
What are compression stockings?
Compression stockings are elastic socks worn on the leg to exert pressure in the superficial and deep leg veins. These stockings exert the highest pressure on the leg veins at the ankle and foot and calf.
These stockings help increase blood flow in the leg veins and reduce the degree of venous pressure responsible for distending small leg veins.
The good news is that there are different stockings with varying degrees of pressure.
Types of compression stockings
Here are the various types of compression stockings:
- Non-medical stockings: They provide uniform compression but of lesser intensity. They are used to relieve tired and heavy legs for air travelers. They are easy to purchase over the counter.
- Medical stockings: These stockings exert a higher degree of compression, usually at the ankle. They are manufactured with technical instructions and are prescribed for those with leg swelling and chronic venous diseases.
- Anti-embolism stockings: These are special stockings made for bedridden individuals or those at risk of developing blood clots in the leg veins. They also provide various levels of compression.
Studies that show the benefits of compression stockings
Compression stockings effectively provide pain relief and reduce associated swelling in varicose veins.
A comparative study was conducted to compare the effectiveness of compressive stockings and normal stockings in 30 people with varicose veins.
The study found that individuals who wore compression stockings at a set pressure for one week presented later with relief of varicose vein pain, heaviness, and burning symptoms. In contrast, the people who wore regular stockings did not notice any symptom relief.
Similarly, a Cochrane systematic review study was done among air passengers on a long-distance flight. Passengers who wore compression stockings revealed they had a low risk of blood clots in their leg veins.
These studies demonstrate the potential benefits of wearing compression stockings, but there are some possible adverse effects if you don’t adhere to instructions.
Side effects of compression stockings
Compression stockings are tight, so wearing one for too long or without medical supervision may affect the blood supply to the leg.
Here are other side effects:
- Discomfort from poorly fitting stockings
- Skin blisters and discoloration
- Allergic reactions such as skin rash
To prevent these adverse effects, check your legs daily for these signs, and choose a suitable compression stocking.
How to choose compression stockings
Before you wear compression stockings, talk to a medical professional.
Compression stockings are available in different sizes, compression strengths, and materials. For example, some stockings are available in the knee or thigh-high length, low or high compression strength, and various fabrics.
To get the most appropriate fit for your health needs, consult a vein specialist.
When to wear compression stockings
Apart from individuals who have vein disease, healthy people at risk will benefit from wearing compression stockings.
Here are some indications:
- Pregnant women: Varicose veins are common in pregnant women because the head of the fetus in the womb compresses the large vein on the right lower half of the body. This increases the pressure in the leg veins and causes abnormal twists and distension of these veins.
- Prolonged sitting or standing: Some occupations require a few people to stand or sit for long periods. Sitting or standing for long causes an accumulation of blood in the leg veins, which gradually increases the venous pressure. This chronic venous pressure leads to varicose veins and other vein disorders if unabated.
- Immobility: Some people may be physically inactive because of an illness. These individuals are prone to developing varicose veins and blood clot formation in the leg veins.
- Athletes: Individuals who engage in weightlifting or running can place pressure on the leg veins. This predisposes them to varicose veins.
Are you at risk of varicose veins?
Though compression stockings have potential benefits against varicose veins, you need expert guidance to gain these medical benefits.
At Virginia Vein Care, our team uses other effective minimally invasive procedures to treat your varicose veins.Visit a location near you for expert management.