Edema, or leg swelling, is a problem that thousands of people suffer from needlessly. Using compression socks is one of the best ways to reduce the swelling without medication. In this article we are going to cover what Edema is along with the 5 best compression socks for Edema and Leg Swelling.
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First, What is Edema, and Do You Have it?
Note: You can skip past this section if you already know what Edema is and what to get to our list of 5 Compression socks
For the purposes of this article we will be referring to Peripheral edema as edema for simplicity. This is not to be confused with other types of edema such as: Pulmonary, Cerebral, or Macular Edema. You can find out more about the types of edema here.
Edema is a condition in which your body retains excess fluid within the tissue compartments. It occurs most often in the extremities such as the feet, hands, legs, arms and ankles. However, edema can also be present in the brain, eyes, bowels, muscles and lungs. The condition mainly occurs in older adults and pregnant women, however anyone can experience edema.
Leg swelling sets in soon after the development of uncontrolled edema although in few cases, leg swelling is due to other factors.
The symptoms of edema vary depending on the underlying causes. However, swelling, tightness and pain are most common. Other symptoms of edema may be:
- swollen, stretched, and shiny skin
- skin that retains a dimple after being pressed for a few seconds
- puffiness of the ankles, face, or eyes
- aching body parts and stiff joints
- weight gain or loss
- fuller hand and neck veins
- higher pulse rate and blood pressure
- abdominal pain
- changes in bowel habits
- nausea and vomiting
- confusion and lethargy
- visual abnormalities
Three major pathways are followed in the buildup of this fluid. The inability of the kidneys to get rid of the fluid is the most common pathway and may be seen in renal failure (otherwise know as Acute or Chronic Kidney failure) and nephrotic syndrome. This kind of edema is almost always bilateral.
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The second pathway is one of excessive formation of fluid in the lower limbs seen with cellulitis and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The excess fluid overcomes the body’s fluid clearing mechanisms and fluid pools in the legs.
The third pathway is the mechanical blockage of the drainage system such as in lymphedema and excessive sitting. This condition denies the legs their natural outlet to get rid of the excess and fluid remains held up in the legs. Gravity takes over and accumulates in the lower extremities. Most unilateral cases of edema are due to this mechanism.
If you notice any swelling in your hands, arms, feet, legs or ankles, please contact your doctor immediately to be evaluated because this can be evidence of a underlying serious life threatening medical condition.
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What is the Best Solution?
Your doctor will suggest several solutions to dealing with edema based on the causes of it. In general, Mild edema normally goes away on its own. Especially when you take proactive measures to treat your condition. Such as raising the affected limb higher than your heart. More severe edema may possibly be treated with drugs that aid in your bodies ability to expel the excess fluid in the form of urine. Your doctor will be able to determine whether or not you qualify for medication and which type of medication is best for your unique medical condition and personal medical history.
The most widely accepted method is the use of Compression socks or otherwise known as compression stockings. Compression socks and stockings are usually worn to aid in the drainage of fluid and for use after swelling has gone down to prevent further swelling. This helps to reduce swelling by keeping pressure on your limbs to prevent fluid from collecting in the tissue. Compression socks and stockings are a popular treatment because of their non-invasive nature and the fact that they are also readily available on various markets such as amazon.
Finding the correct size of compression socks is very important and depends on many factors that will need to be determined by your medical professional.
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The 5 Best Compression Socks for Edema and Leg Swelling
Amazon has a long list of compression socks to choose from, which makes it difficult to make a decision on which one to go with. Many choices are preferred to others based on customer reviews and individual characteristics of each set of sock. This is why we have selected and compiled a list of the best ones for you.
1. Blitzu Compression Socks
Made of premium performance fabric with a circular knit, the Blitzu compression socks are best known for their flexibility and long lasting capability. In addition to offering compression to the swollen limbs they also provide relief of muscle and leg pains with protection against injuries and sores.
They come with a narrow range of sizes i.e. small and large and being recommended for all ages and sexes, the confusion on the appropriate sizes is further worsened. The Blitzu socks have seen wide usage in people who require daily use of compression stockings such as nurses who endure long standing hours. They have also been used for outdoor activities such as running, hiking and gym activities.
2. Wanderlust Air Travel Compression Socks
The proportion of 80% cotton, 6% polyester, minimal nylon and lycra form part of the unmatched comfortable nature of these compression socks. They come with medical graded compression pressures i.e. 25-30 mmHg at the ankles, 15-20 mmHg in the mid-leg region and 10-15 mmHg just below the knee. These pressures mimic the physiological state of the body and stress more on the comfortability of this type of socks.
In addition to that they possess soft padding in the foot and toe boxes that avoid the development of blisters. Men have the medium and large sizes while women have the large and extra-large sizes. They are well known for control of flight fatigue and tingling sensation felt thereafter and are the preferred type of compression socks for air travellers. They have been dubbed to give a first class feeling during your flight.
3. FITSHIT Premium Compression Socks
The uniqueness of the FITSHIT compression socks is not only in the 70% nylon and 30% spandex make up content but also in the antibacterial properties of this type of socks. Its ability to clear off any moisture that is secreted from your legs during exercise guarantees an odorless post exercise period; a feature which is also desirable. They offer moderate compression pressures of 15-20 mmHg. Moreover, they are known to clear off muscle fatigue and protect against common injuries.
A combination of all the above factors coupled with the long-lasting nature of their fabric, bring up a pair of ideal compression socks that are used for people who anticipate their usage for long hours such as people working in offices all day, long flights, and extended periods of exercises. They come in well graded sizes which vary with the sex of the person thus guarantees a fitting outfit. They also offer replacement guarantee if you can’t get your desired fit among their products which is rare given the specifications of their sizes.
4. Pregnancy Compression Socks
As the name dictates these socks are ideal for maternal use in controlling leg swelling, leg pain, foot pain, edema, and varicose veins. With graduated compression of 25-30 mmHg at the ankle region, 15-20 mmHg in the mid-calf and 10-15mmHg just below the knee the socks aim at mimicking the body’s physiological state and are therefore ideal for situations where there is a failed physiologic mechanism such as in varicose veins.
They are perfectly designed with cotton to allow for easy slipping on and off in pregnant women who may have trouble putting on other types of compression socks. In their unique design to fit the women profile they come in medium or large sizes and products are long enough to fit a 20-inch calf. Lastly, they come with a padded toe box and a firm plantar arch support. They are built to last longer than nine months for the obvious reason; to outlast pregnancy.
5. DANISH ENDURANCE Graduated Compression Socks
With 65% polyamide, 20% Elasthan, 15% Lycra and excellent craftsmanship the product is undoubtedly one of the five best compression socks. It exerts medium range compression of 16-21 mmHg at a constant rate making them ideal for people who need prolonged compression such as athletes, nurses, doctors, and long flight travelers.
The Danish made socks come with additional features of pressure sore protection and a ventilation mechanism that allows for wicking away of secreted sweat. Like all compression socks they may pose a challenge in putting them on and it is therefore recommended that you turn them inside out and roll them over from below upwards to overcome this challenge.
How to Put on Compression Socks Properly
The management of edema and leg swelling with compression socks can be easy and challenging at the same time. The main challenge posed is the difficulty of putting them on which is avoided by skillful rolling over technique of wearing them. Please see the video below by Care Pharmacy on how to properly put on compression socks. And as always, consult your doctor as to the best methods to putting on compression socks for your particular condition.
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While compression socks are used for the treatment and relief of edema and swelling of the lower extremities, compression socks may also aggravate your condition if they are not the ideal type for your unique medical needs. Doctor’s advice should always be sought before initiating their use. The good news is that they offer a physiological option that requires minimal monitoring. Compression socks are also preferred over other methods of edema and leg swelling treatment for the additional protection they offer against injuries and muscle cramps.
There are many options on the market when shopping for compression socks. The 5 options above are just some of the best reviewed and rated compression socks on Amazon. Please let us know which compression socks work for you. We would love to hear about your experience.
Disclosure: I am not a doctor and all the advice in this article is based on personal experience and research. You should consult a doctor if unsure. Some of the links above contain affiliate links, meaning I get a few cents should you make a purchase.
If you would like to learn more about the science behind compression sleeves and socks, please see our article 20 Scientific Studies on the Benefits of Compression Sleeves. We compiled 20 of the best scientific articles about the benefits and concerns when using compression sleeves and socks. I hope you find it useful.
- Mayo Clinic. (2019). Edema – Symptoms and causes. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/edema/symptoms-causes/syc-20366493 [Accessed 30 Nov. 2019].
- Medical News Today. (2019). Edema: Types, causes, symptoms, and treatment. [online] Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/159111.php [Accessed 30 Nov. 2019].
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