Compression socks are a highly underrated tool for solving a wide range of issues. While the topic is becoming more popularized, there is still a lot to learn and discover. They are amazing for someone who is your everyday athlete or an individual struggling with a medical condition. For instance, they are great at helping manage and deal with the medical condition of neuropathy.
Neuropathy, among many other medical conditions revolving around poor circulation, goes hand in hand with compression socks. But understanding how compression socks work is important. For example, do you know what compression levels 15-30 mmHg for women means? Let’s find out.
What Is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. It’s also commonly referred to as peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy can cause a range of symptoms, such as pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in our hands and feet.
There is a wide variety of factors that can cause this medical condition, such as the following.
- Autoimmune diseases
- Traumatic injuries
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Exposure to toxins
Common Symptoms of Neuropathy
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of coordination
- Sensitivity to touch or temperature changes
- Digestive issues
- Bladder and bowel control
- Sexual function
Using Compression Socks To Treat Neuropathy
Using compression socks to treat neuropathy is a good alternative to medications if you can make the swap. There are many reasons why compression socks work to ease symptoms. Let’s explore.
Through applied pressure to the legs, ankles, and feet, compression socks help with overall blood flow and oxygen circulation to the needed areas. By increasing circulation, pain is often reduced, along with the risk of blood clots.
Neuropathy can often cause swelling in the legs at a fast rate. But compression socks can reduce the rate of swelling with improved circulation. It also helps with lymphatic drainage in the legs.
Proprioception is the ability to sense the position and movement of the body, and neuropathy can affect this sense, leading to balance problems and falls. Compression socks can provide additional sensory input to the feet and legs, which can help improve individuals’ feel connected to their body’s movement.
Gives Additional Support
Compression socks give additional support to the legs and feet. This helps reduce fatigue and improve mobility. This can be particularly important for people with neuropathy, who may experience muscle weakness and difficulty with proprioception.
An unfortunate complication that can come from neuropathy is foot ulcers and infections. Compression socks can help reduce the risk of these complications by improving circulation and reducing swelling.
Better circulation leads to quicker healing thanks to regenerating cells faster. This can be particularly beneficial for people with diabetic neuropathy, who can be at higher risk for foot ulcers and infections.
Improves Overall Quality of Life
By reducing pain, swelling, and the risk of complications, compression socks can improve the overall quality of life for people with neuropathy. They can help people maintain their independence, reduce the need for medication, and improve their ability to participate in daily activities.
Types of Compression Socks
It is important to note that there are several types of compression socks available, each designed to provide a different level of compression and support. Here are the most common types of compression socks:
Graduated compression socks:
The idea with these socks is to apply the most pressure at the ankle and gradually decrease pressure as they move towards the knee. This helps improve circulation by pushing blood back toward the heart.
Anti-embolism compression socks:
These socks are designed for people who are bedridden or immobile for extended periods of time, such as after surgery. They are designed to prevent blood clots by applying a consistent level of pressure to the entire leg.
Non-medical compression socks:
Those who play sports or travel a decent amount can benefit from these over-the-counter versions. While they are not intended for medical use but can still be beneficial for people with mild symptoms of neuropathy or other conditions.
Prescription compression socks:
Doctors prescribe these compression socks. They are typically used for people with more severe symptoms of neuropathy or other conditions. They provide a higher level of compression and are custom-fitted to the individual.
Similar to compression socks, stockings extend up to the thigh or waist. They are often used to treat conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), varicose veins, and lymphedema.
Keep in mind that it is important to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider to determine which type of compression sock is right for you based on your specific needs and the severity of your neuropathy symptoms.
Alternative Treatments to Neuropathy
In addition to wearing compression socks, several alternative treatments may be helpful in managing neuropathy symptoms.
- Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. It is believed to help improve circulation and reduce pain.
- Massage therapy can help improve circulation and reduce tension in the muscles, which can be beneficial for people with neuropathy. It can also help reduce stress and improve sleep.
- Physical therapy can help improve strength, flexibility, and balance, which can be beneficial for people with neuropathy and struggling with proprioception.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, is a type of therapy that uses low-level electrical impulses to stimulate the nerves and reduce pain. It may be helpful for people with neuropathy who experience chronic pain.
- Some nutritional supplements, such as alpha-lipoic acid and vitamin B12, may help reduce neuropathy symptoms.
- Stress and anxiety can exacerbate neuropathy symptoms, so practices such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga may be helpful in managing these symptoms.
Not every method works for every patient. That’s why consulting with your doctor is key.
Trial and Error
Your doctor may order a trial-and-error type of approach. Most of the time, those who struggle with Neuropathy have positive feedback when it comes to wearing compression socks. It’s a noninvasive way of treating symptoms without disrupting day-to-day life.
Combing this with a few of the above-mentioned ideas is often incredibly relieving for people with neuropathy. A multi-faceted approach is often the best way!
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