7 Reasons for Wearing Compression Socks

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Wyatt Myers on October 15, 2021
  • At the clinic
    A Growing Trend
    Uses for compression socks have grown in recent years. They used to be solely a medical treatment for people with poor circulation or other problems in their legs. Today, everyone from athletes to pregnant women wear them. Here are some of the more common reasons people now wear compression socks.
  • Woman smiling in hospital bed
    1. After Surgery or When Bedridden
    The chance of developing painful, dangerous blood clots in the legs goes up after surgery. It also goes up if you need bed rest for any reason. To help prevent these clots, doctors often prescribe compression socks. The stockings can improve blood flow in the legs. This reduces the risk of clotting while you aren’t as active as usual.
  • Midwife Discussing Medical Notes With Pregnant Woman
    2. During Pregnancy
    If you have varicose veins or are at risk of developing them, your doctor might suggest you wear compression socks during pregnancy. Studies have shown that wearing the socks seems to improve blood flow, reduce swelling, and even prevent varicose veins from developing or getting worse.
  • Held foot with Varicose Veins
    3. Varicose Veins
    Research shows the benefits of wearing compression socks for varicose veins might go beyond pregnancy. Researchers who reviewed seven studies with 356 participants noted that many people felt their symptoms improved if they wore the socks. They had less swelling and blood flow was better.
  • Germany, Munich, Bavaria, Group of passengers in economy class airliner, smiling
    4. Deep Vein Thrombosis
    Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the development of a blood clot in a vein in the leg or pelvis. These clots can be quite painful. They also can cause serious complications, including pulmonary embolism if the clot travels to the lungs. Compression socks can help prevent DVT. And, if you've already had a DVT, wearing them can help relieve pain and prevent complications. Wearing compression socks while traveling is especially important. That's because sitting for long periods of time on an airplane or in a car can make DVT more likely.
  • hand-on-leg-with-varicose-veins
    5. Post-Thrombotic Syndrome
    One complication of DVT is post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS). This is discomfort and pain in the arm or leg that lingers after you've had DVT. If you have these symptoms, compression socks can provide relief. They might even help you resume some of your daily activities.
  • Edema
    6. Leg Swelling
    Leg swelling (edema) can stem from various medical conditions. For instance, issues like heart failure, kidney disease, and pregnancy can cause the body to retain fluids. This can lead to swelling in the legs. A serious problem like heart failure or kidney disease requires other treatments, but wearing compression socks might be a simple part of the plan to help address symptoms in the legs.
  • Female athlete leaving starting blocks
    7. Athletic Performance
    More and more athletes are putting on compression socks before competing. They believe the socks can do two things—improve performance and prevent injuries while running or participating in athletic events. A number of studies have examined the impact these socks have had on athletics in recent years. The results aren't clear, but no harm seems to come from wearing the socks during competition. So, the practice has continued, and possibly picked up steam.
7 Reasons for Wearing Compression Socks
  1. Bovenschen HJ, Booij MT, van der Vleuten CJ. Graduated compression stockings for runners: friend, foe or fake? J Athl Train. 2013 Mar-Apr;48(2):226-32.
  2. Clots & Travel. American Society of Hematology. http://www.hematology.org/Patients/Clots/Travel.aspx
  3. Focus on Compression Stockings. Vascular Disease Foundation. http://vasculardisease.org/flyers/focus-on-compression-stockings-flyer.pdf
  4. Trayes KP, Studdiford JS, Pickle S, Tully AS. Edema: diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2013 Jul 15;88(2):102-110. 
  5. Society for Vascular Nursing Patient Education: Varicose Veins. Society for Vascular Nursing. https://svnnet.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/SVN-Varicose-Veins-Education.pdf
  6. Wearing stockings to provide compression for the treatment of varicose veins. Cochrane Library. http://www.cochrane.org/CD008819/PVD_wearing-stockings-to-provide-compression-for-the-treatment-of-varicose-veins
  7. What are graduated compression stockings, where do I get them, and how do I put them on? Coalition to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis. http://clotcare.org/faq_graduatedcompressionstockings.aspx
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Last Review Date: 2021 Oct 15
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