Do Compression Stockings Work for Varicose Veins? Everything you Should Know
Vein related issues are becoming common conditions these days. A large percentage of people have chronic insufficiency of venous in their body, which leads to serious issues like varicose veins. Such people experience swollen ankles and heavy legs by evening, and even pain and night cramps in their legs. Varicose veins occur when your vein valves become damaged, and blood cannot move up in your legs freely. In such a situation, blood starts pooling around your calves and ankles, and you can even see them underneath the skin. If varicose veins affect you, you must be susceptible about do compression stockings work for varicose veins or not. Read this oneHOWTO article for more information.
What are compression stockings?
Compression stockings are specially designed hosiery pieces meant for preventing occurrence and progression of venous disorders, such as varicose veins. These elastic garments are worn around the legs, thus causing a compression in the limb. This is helpful in reducing the diameter of swollen veins, thereby increasing blood flow and valve effectiveness in the legs. Therapy with compression stockings is helpful in reducing venous pressure, preventing venous statis, and impairing venous walls. As a result, they lead to relief from aching and heavy legs.
Do compression stockings make veins worse?
Compression stockings work by exerting external pressure on your legs, thereby reducing blood pooling and improving vein circulation. They not only increase blood circulation in your legs, but also prevent blood clotting in your lower legs. Sometimes, they are also used for treating ulcers in the lower legs. Unlike athletic stockings and socks, these stockings are made up of stronger elastic material, due to which they put significant pressure on your feet, ankles and legs. These stockings are tight at ankles, and gradually cause less pressure as they move towards the thighs and knees. They compress the arteries, muscles and surface veins, thereby forcing the blood to circulate through the narrow channels. Consequently, they increase the arterial pressure, as a result of which more blood returns to the heart and blood does not pool in the legs and calves.
The belief that compression stockings make veins worse is because certain studies found that they may create blood clots as certain heights may cause bad circulation. However, these same studies did not confirm that it was the compression tights that created the breakage of the veins. However, this same study, that assessed over 13 others, concluded that, there were no side effects in any cases, provided compression tights should be applied after the patient has had proper training.
Choosing the right compression stockings
There are different types of compression stockings available out there. You have to choose the right one as per your individual condition and treatment response. Here are a few things to consider while choosing your compression stockings:
Compression stockings are available with four different compression levels: mild, moderate, firm and extra-firm. Mild compression is used for mild venous insufficiency and aids in supporting healthier flow of blood. Moderate compression is recommended if you are recently diagnosed with varicose veins. Firm and extra-firm compression levels are typically used for more serious conditions of veins, such as leg ulcers, lymphatic edema and deep vein thrombosis.
You need to take the right size of compression stockings in order to ensure proper fit and feel comfortable while wearing them. The best time to measure your legs is before getting out of bed in the morning. If you are buying knee-high stockings, measure the widest part on your calves and narrowest part of the ankles. If you are buying thigh-high stockings, measure the thigh part under your buttocks, and also the distance between the floor and your buttocks.
Who needs compression stockings?
People with very small varicose veins do not need stockings, as they might not be experiencing any unpleasant symptoms of the condition. But if you are experiencing mild symptoms, panty hose or an over-the-counter pair of compression stockings may be fine. These may offer you mild relief from heaviness and aching. But if you are suffering from severe level of varicose veins, then you will need to buy prescription compression stockings. They are more expensive than their OTC counterparts, and are more effective in reducing swelling and pain in your legs.
So, when you ask do compression stockings work for varicose veins or not, the answer is ‘yes’, provided that you choose the right type, size and level of stockings and do not expect to notice benefits in the short term. According to Sara Shingler's study, however, they are only effective on symptoms in patients without venous ulceration and concludes that the studies analysed are not significant or complete enough as they do not cover all possible variables, which is why she consideres there is no significant evidence. Always wear your stockings in sitting or standing position, and take them off when you are going to sleep. Many athletes wear them routinely to prevent the occurrence of varicose veins altogether.
In order to treat varicose veins efficiently, we advise you to take a look at the best shoes to wear, make sure you combine the use of compression stockings with proper exercise to reduce them and try these home remedies for varicose veins too.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
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- Shingler, Sarah, et al. "Compression stockings for the initial treatment of varicose veins in patients without venous ulceration." Cochrane Database Syst Rev 11 (2011).