Compression Socks – Types, Advantages, and Disadvantages

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In compression therapy, compression socks are incorporated. These socks help in gently pressing the legs and ankles. This way, the flow of blood is increased throughout the lower body. According to experts, this practice can help reduce swelling and pain in the legs and ankles by many folds. If you want to understand the whole process of how they work, then we can describe that in brief for you. The main reason for the reduction in pain with the use of compression socks is because they decrease the width of veins. Due to this reason, the flow and velocity of blood in these veins get incremented. Blood is also eventually directed towards the heart.

Additionally, the compression also inhibits the backflow of blood in the downward direction. Doctors generally prescribe compression socks to people who are recovering from an internal injury in their legs. Sometimes these types of socks are also prescribed to people who have frequent swelling in their feet. If you are asked to wear these socks by your doctor, we recommend you follow the instructions mandatory to use them properly. Otherwise, the socks won’t give you any benefits at all. Many people do not understand that other than being exceptionally useful, compression socks can also have disadvantages. They also do not know that there are different kinds of compression socks available.

Therefore, below, we are going to discuss the types, advantages, and disadvantages of these socks. You should read everything before you start using a pair. Let us begin –

Compression Socks

Types of Compression Socks

We will discuss the three main types of Compression socks which are –

  1. Anti-embolism Compression Socks: These are manufactured in such a way that they help reduce the risk of thrombosis in the deep veins. People who do not move regularly or move very little are asked to wear this type of socks. Thrombosis generally refers to a blood clot. So when a person does not walk or move actively, he/she can have restricted blood circulation. There are great chances of blood clots in such situations. Some of the clots can be very harmful to the heart and body. The anti-embolism compression socks help avoid that at all costs.
  2. Graduated Compression Socks: The graduated compression socks provide compression the most at the ankle. As you follow the socks upwards, the compression tends to decrease. Due to this reason, a person can move in a better way when he/she is wearing these socks. These socks are exceptionally useful for reducing and preventing the swelling in the lower leg region. Swelling in the lower leg is often due to the build-up of fluid. When graduated compression socks are worn, they help inhibit that by increasing the blood flow in the lower parts of the legs. These socks can be of two types – closed-toe and open-toe. The fitting of these socks must be perfect and adequate to suit the needs of an individual. Hence, professional help is always requisite.
  3. Nonmedical Compression Socks: These socks are sold without a prescription of a registered doctor. Hence, they are sold a lot. They provide relief from general leg aches and muscle pain. People wear them during long journeys if their legs tend to pain in such cases. The compression that these socks offer is uniform in the entire ankle and leg. This compression is neither too high nor too low. Therefore, they are the most sold variety of compression socks in the market. To buy these socks, you can go to a pharmacy. You can also shop for many versions of them through e-commercial sites. That way, the socks will be delivered right at your homes.
  4. Thigh-high Compression Socks: Most compression socks only reach up to the knees. But there are also many socks which reach half of the thigh region. These compression socks are known as thigh-high compression socks. The amount of circulation they offer generally depends on the compression level they provide. A doctor will only prescribe this compression. Generally, these socks allow good blood flow from the entire leg and not just the lower region. They help in the reduction of usual cramps and aches in the outer muscles of the legs.
  5. Compression Stockings: Compression Stockings are the thinner version of socks, but they are still socks. They are made using stretchable fabric and are also sheer to a great degree. However, the opaque versions of these socks are also available. They do not make the legs and ankles feel hot because of their thin region. The compression they provide is also not extremely high. They can help in reducing the pain suffered during the recovery from injuries in the leg. They can also help reduce the pain from sprains in ankles and heels.

Advantages of Compression Socks:

Below are the numerous collective advantages of Compression Socks –

  1. Increasing blood flow: As mentioned earlier, compression socks decrease the diameter or width of the veins of the legs. Doing this allows the blood of legs to go up towards the heart in a better flow. This way, blood does not pool in your legs, causing pain and swelling. Compression socks also do not let the blood return back in an unhealthy manner to your legs.
  2. Prevention of Blood Clots: When blood does not circulate well in the body, it may start clotting. The clotting or clumping of blood cells is known as thrombosis. This condition can lead to excruciating pain and hard to reverse swelling in the leg region. Wearing compression socks help prevent such conditions in all situations.
  3. Improvement in lymphatic drainage: Along with blood in the circulatory system, lymph also flows in our body in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is like a home to white blood cells, which help us fight off diseases and infections. A constricted lymph flow may result in the development of lowered immunity. Compression socks help in avoiding that.
  4. Reduce Swelling: Since compression socks increase blood flow, they help diminish the chances of swelling in legs. Blood does not start getting clogged in the lower leg once a person starts wearing compression socks. Chances of inflammation are also less if compression socks are worn when required.
  5. Reduce the chances of lightheadedness: a bad body circulation may make you feel lightheaded or dizzying. However, this can only be diagnosed by a doctor. If a patient is diagnosed with this condition, the doctor may ask them to wear compression socks. These socks will then work in the improvement of dizzy feeling and lightheaded.

Disadvantages of Compression Socks:

Compression Socks when not chosen properly may cause the below-mentioned disadvantages –

  1. Skin Cracks and Breakage: There are many reports by experts that prove that when compression socks are poorly fitted, they may lead to cracks in the skin. Cracks in the skin may be caused due to harm and damage caused to the upper epidermal layer. This can be avoided by moisturizing the skin, though.
  2. Peripheral Nerve Damage: Using compression socks for a longer period than they are required may cause damage to the peripheral nerves. If that happens, the person may experience numbness in the leg region. He/she may also experience pain and weakness in the legs that won’t go away.
  3. Impaired flow in the artery: Many times, compression socks can also cause damage to the flow in arteries. If such conditions happen, the person using them will start having inadequate oxygen supply through the blood to cells. This will generally happen if a person suffers from conditions such as ischemia.
  4. Allergies: The material of the socks can also cause allergies in some people. Therefore, you should tell the doctor everything about your allergies (if you have any). If you don’t, you might develop rashes and redness in your skin. In rare cases, your skin may also flare up, and you may require anti-allergy medicines to calm the skin down.
  5. Discomfort: Some socks are too tight at first. Therefore, some wearers may find these socks very hard to bear for hours. They may also feel agitated and have the need to take them off as soon as possible. Due to the same reason, they can also get distracted and not be able to focus on the general tasks of the day.

These were the few disadvantages of compression socks. We cannot mention it enough that you should always listen to the advice of your doctor rather than going on and buying the socks on your own. You will indeed be on the safe side if you ask what is best for you from your doctor.


If you have read our article thoroughly, you would have realized that compression socks have many benefits. However, they also have a few disadvantages that should not be neglected by anyone. Additionally, there are also many different types and versions of compression socks in the market. A majority of them are sold only to the people who have a prescription from a licensed doctor. The socks that are sold without a prescription are the ones that only give gentle compression. If you are thinking of using these socks, you should take professional help. That way, you will be able to have the right compression socks that are best suited to your needs and conditions.

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