Compression therapy is particularly beneficial for patients with diabetes.
Compression socks are worn to improve circulation in patients with various medical issues, such as diabetes and varicose veins or those at risk of developing blood clots. As a non-invasive treatment method, compression therapy serves as a tool for maintaining the right amount of pressure in your feet and legs. So, how do compression socks work and why are they particularly helpful for people with diabetes?
What Causes Poor Circulation?
When patients experience circulation problems in the lower extremities, it is often due to a condition known as venous insufficiency. As you know, the circulatory system consists of arteries that deliver oxygenated blood throughout the body, and veins that return deoxygenated blood and waste products back to the heart and lungs for recirculation. The muscles in your feet and calves act as a pump to help blood flow back up through the legs against the pull of gravity.
In some people, vein walls in the legs lose their elasticity and become weak, causing the valves inside the veins to pull apart. These valves normally open and close to allow blood to flow up in one direction. When valves become pulled apart due to weakened vein walls, they do not close properly, allowing blood to flow in two directions. This causes blood to pool in the lower extremities and results in peripheral edema (swelling) in the legs, ankles, and feet.
How Do Compression Socks Work to Improve Circulation?
Compression socks improve circulation by gently squeezing the foot and calf muscles, which in turn straightens out the vein walls to a better working state. This gentle compression allows the valves to function properly by opening to allow blood flow toward the heart and closing to prevent blood from flowing backwards. This allows circulation to work as it should and helps to prevent peripheral edema from occurring.
While compression socks do a good job at assisting the body’s circulation system, they are not one size fits all. Compression socks provide different levels of pressure, measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). They can range from very light compression (8-15mmHg) to extra firm compression (40-50mmHg), and different levels of compression are used to treat different types of conditions. Stronger levels of compression are not necessarily better, and mild pressure is generally recommended. You should always consult with a doctor before wearing compression socks or stockings.
How Do Compression Socks Work to Help Diabetics?
Anyone diagnosed with diabetes is particularly prone to developing venous insufficiency, peripheral edema, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Wearing graduated compression socks that provide more pressure at the foot and less pressure on the calves can help maintain proper circulation to the lower extremities. This can prevent swelling and improve any nerve sensitivities.
However, diabetics are also at a higher risk of developing diabetic foot ulcers. Small cuts or scrapes to the foot can go unnoticed due to reduced feeling in the toes or feet as a result of a compromised circulatory system. These injuries can ulcerate and turn into serious, life-threatening conditions if left untreated. Many of these cuts and scrapes are caused by improperly fitting shoes or rubbing socks that break the skin. Wearing diabetic compression socks that fit properly and have extra padding, flat seams, and resist wrinkling can help by reducing friction and minimizing the risk of blisters.
If you have circulation problems, Advanced Tissue supplies a variety of compression socks. Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.