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Are Compression Socks Good For Swelling?

You may experience swelling and pain in your legs and ankles for several reasons. We also refer to swelling as edema, a condition that can occur in any part of your body. However, it is more common for individuals to experience this in their legs and feet.

Thus, compression stockings and socks aim to reduce the swelling in your feet, ankles, or lower legs.


People may suffer from several kinds of edema. These include:

  • Pedal edema
  • Periorbital edema
  • Lymphedema
  • Macular edema
  • Cerebral edema
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Peripheral edema

Compression stockings help combat swelling that one may experience in the lower legs, feet, and ankles. The stockings' purpose is to squeeze your leg area so that no fluid accumulates in the tissue and causes swelling. Even socks available in stores could be a great support to soothe your swelling and pain.

Most often, the build-up of fluid in the lower legs and feet is also very painful. This is why you will note different levels of compression stockings in the stores. Each number with the product indicates the level of pressure the stockings will use to relieve your swelling, and it is best to consult your doctor for it.


People describe compression stockings as stretchy and tight-fitting, which is not an exaggeration. You see, the stockings are tailor-made to fit your legs snugly. This helps the stockings exert or squeeze your legs gently, which reduces the swelling.

Pressure stockings or graduated stockings fit your ankle tightly but loosen as they ascend the legs. The tubed part that stops where the foot begins is what we refer to as compression sleeves. You can buy these across the counter if it suits you. However, we recommend consulting your doctor for two reasons: first, the doctor will prescribe just the right pressure level for your swelling needs. Secondly, a prescription will help insurance cover your cost.


First, compression stockings have a particular design wherein the stockings must enclose your lower extremities, feet, and ankles. They control your swelling in this particular manner.

As we mentioned above, these stockings' foremost objective is to squeeze the said areas so that no fluid can accumulate in the tissues and cause inflammation. The swelling because of fluid accumulation can cause excruciating pain and extreme discomfort.

However, if you do start using the stockings and note the following at any time, you must remove the compression stockings immediately and consult your doctor:

  • You spot a new wound
  • The temperature and color of your toes change
  • Your feet and legs feel a pricking sensation
  • Your legs and feet go numb
  • Your legs and feet pain

Let's take a deeper look into the technical details of how compression stockings work. Any abnormally functioning blood vessels or lymphatic vessels give way to swelling in the ankles, feet, and legs. These dysfunctional vessels are responsible for the fluid that gathers in the surrounding areas.

Since the stockings can combat or prevent the build-up of fluid, it is best for persons who are already aware of their edema to wear them before swelling begins. If the individuals are already aware of their edema condition and have doctor's instructions to use compression stockings, they must wear them as soon as they wake up.

An accomplished doctor summarizes the typical swelling process at the end of the day in the following words:

"A venous pressure steadily increases and causes extravasations of the venule fluids. We owe this occurrence to gravity, and only compression stockings can work against this force. When the stockings exert less pressure on your calf and more on the ankles, the combating process begins.

The stockings exert a gentle pressure in the upwards directions, making it convenient for your veins to pump blood and waste fluid out of your lower extremities. This, in turn, reduces much of your swelling, discomfort, and heaviness.

You will often note athletes such as triathletes, sprinters, basketball players, etc. They will also wear compression stockings and sleeves for their legs and arms. The reason for doing so is to boost healthy blood circulation and more oxygen for their muscles. This way, despite their extreme physical activities, their tissues will remain safe against damage.


Normal swelling at the end of your tiring day is perhaps a normal occurrence and not much cause for concern. However, often edema can be an indicator of a grave underlying health condition, and it is best not to ignore such signs.

Here is a list of reasons that could be causing swelling in your lower legs, ankles, and feet, but it is still necessary to consult a doctor:


Medicines that could cause swelling as side effects include:

  • Beta-blockers
  • Antisympathetics
  • Selective cyclooxygenase- 2 inhibitors
  • Cyclooxygenase inhibitors- Nonselective
  • Direct vasodilators
  • Anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal drugs
  • Corticosteroids and steroids
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Diabetes medications
  • Certain antidepressants
  • Hormones


When the single-way valves in your veins fail, they cause CVI (Chronic venous insufficiency). These valves' dysfunction results in fluid and blood building up in the vascular system and creating a pool in the lower extremities. Swelling and certain other symptoms can occur as a result.


DVT or your veins developing blood clots deep down are problematic too. If the clots disintegrate, chances are they may travel to your lungs. You can end with a terminal pulmonary embolism, and swelling may be the first symptom of it.


Pregnant women undergo a lot of hormonal changes in their state. These hormonal activities can result in peripheral swelling, which occurs in 80% of pregnancies worldwide. As a result, doctors recommend compression stockings from the first month a woman becomes pregnant till six weeks after she has delivered the baby.


This is another common reason for swelling, and unlike other causes, it mostly does not improve with an elevation of your legs overnight. When your lymphatic transport suffers impairment, you end up with an accumulation of lymphatic fluid that is protein-rich and pathologic.


When you have to sit or stand for long hours, it begins to tax your circulatory system outstanding for long means asking your heart to combat the forces of gravity and pump waste fluid and blood from your feet.

Similarly, sitting for long will allow the blood to pool in your feet and the lower legs. This, too, gives rise to swelling, numbness, and feet.

Other medical conditions which may also make way for edema include:

  • Fracture or sprain
  • Infection
  • Tumor
  • Allergies
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart failure


When you wear compression stockings, you must try to flatten them against your skin and ensure there is no bunching. Simultaneously, ensure the stockings are just perfect in length for you and not too long.

When you're it, do roll or fold the stockings because you don't want them to get too tight. Besides, extreme tightness will block your circulation and create more complications than boosting blood flow.

We recommend slipping on a pair of kitchen rubber gloves so that you can grip your stockings better as you pull them on. Start by pulling them up to your heel and then gradually upwards so that no wrinkling could be harmful.

If need be, you may get some additional equipment to help you slip the stockings on and off easily.


Compression stockings help reduce swelling, a condition we commonly know as edema. When the stockings exert pressure on your ankles and legs, the blood flows more easily from the lower extremities to the heart.

Consult your doctor for the right kind of compression stockings for your use. In case he/she recommends your wear the stockings to help your venous insufficiency, you must:

  • Note if any part of your skin changes in color where you wore the stockings
  • Be precise in following the doctor's instructions regarding the use of your stockings
  • Please put on the stockings and remove them as the manufacturer's instructions state
  • Also, make sure the stockings fit you well and not poorly.

Rest assured that compressions stockings will help soothe your swelling to a great extent.


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