Varicose veins, swollen and twisted, typically arise just beneath the skin’s surface. The legs are where they most commonly form. Issues that can arise because of varicose veins are skin ulcers, blood clots, and mild to moderate pain.
In order to keep blood directed toward the heart, veins are designed with one-way valves. When these valves malfunction or if they are not strong enough, your veins can end up with a buildup of blood – leading to swelling and, in turn, varicose veins.
Approximately 2 in 5 Americans are suffering from chronic venous insufficiency (marked by swollen ankles, heavy legs, and cramping), a precursor to varicose veins.
What compression socks do
You may have had compression socks recommended to you for this condition. These specialized socks enhance bloodflow and are often used when varicose veins are symptomatic. (Note that when varicose veins are asymptomatic, treatment is unnecessary.)
Patients are often advised by their doctors to wear these socks during the day to reduce their symptoms. Actually, varicose veins are just one of the conditions for which compression socks are advised; they are also recommended to treat chronic venous insufficiency and spider veins.
The reason these socks are effective is that they place pressure on your legs and ankles, compressing the veins and arteries near the surface so that valve function and circulation is optimized.
How to use compression socks
You want to put the socks on when you wake up, prior to bringing your legs to the ground. Your vein valves are better able to operate when you are lying down. When you stand, you are likelier to start to see issues with circulation. With the use of the compression socks right away in the morning, you will have better circulation as the day progresses.
Beyond helping with pain, fatigue, restless legs, cramps, and other symptoms associated with varicose veins, you will also benefit from compression socks if you are pregnant, have to stand for an extended period, or must travel with limited leg room.
There is research evidence to back up the claims of those who advise this strategy, such as a 2004 study in Dermatologic Surgery.
Are you suffering from varicose veins? Compression socks may not be enough. At Atlanta Medical Clinic, we have improved the quality of life of many patients suffering from painful vein conditions. See our vein treatment options.