Compression socks And Blood clots
So many people ask if compression socks can prevent blood clots formation or venous thrombus embolism. What do you think?
This topic is actually an interesting one. Studies have verified the effect of these socks for prevention of blood clots.
To begin lets see what these socks are all about.
Compression socks are like tights, but they’re made from elastic materials. While you may wear an ordinary socks for fashion or to protect your legs for example in a cold weather, these socks have an elastic fabric designed to fit tightly around the ankles, legs, and thighs. They are tighter around the ankle and less tight around the calves and thighs. The gradient compression socks can prevent blood clot formation.
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How it works
The gradient compression socks compresses the surface veins, arteries and muscles to force circulating blood through narrower channels.
It provides some sort of a compression therapy helps prevents venous stasis and impairments of venous walls, and relieves heavy and aching legs.
The result is that the pressure in the arteries is increased. This will cause more blood to return to your heart and less blood will remain stagnant in your feet.
These compression socks can prevent blood clots formation so it lowers your chances of getting deep venous thrombosis. Do not think of them as an outright replacement or substitute for blood thinners or physical activity because they cannot be as effective as blood thinners in keeping clots from forming.
What Studies Reveal?
Different studies have proven that compression socks can prevent blood clots formation or deep venous thrombus formation especially in hospitalized patients.
One particular study first published in 2000, updated both in 2014 and 2018 showed how useful these socks can be.
This study involved a total of one thousand six hundred and and eighty one participants and consisted of twenty trials, including ten with participants undergoing general surgery and six with participants undergoing orthopedic surgery.
It was observed that among those wearing compression socks before and after surgery, only nine percent developed Deep Venous Thrombosis, compared with twenty one percent of those who didn’t wear compression socks.
Compression socks can prevent blood clots
Also, another study done showed that wearing compression socks could significantly reduce the risk of blood clot formation in the deep venous system after a stroke.
No wonder The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) include the socks in its drafted guidelines for treatment of different types of patients at risk to blood clot formation.
Tips on using compression socks
If you want to get the best results, follow these tips
When to use them : Wear the compression socks first thing in the morning before you stand on your feet. Your feet can swell up after moving around and wearing it may become harder. Remove the socks before showering. Wear the socks continuously throughout the day and don’t remove it until bedtime.
Before use : Apply lotion to your skin before putting on the stocking to make the material easy to wear. It will glide up your leg if you do this. Also remember to make sure the lotion fully absorbs into your skin before attempting to put on the socks.
How to wear : Grab the top of the socks and roll it down toward the heel. Put your foot inside the socks, and then slowly it up over your leg.
After Use : Wash it after each use with mild soap and then air dry. Replace your stocking every four to six months.
Choose the right socks : While it is true that compression socks can prevent blood clots formation. If you choose the wrong one you may not get the desired result. Be sure to find a socks with the right amount of pressure and tightness.
Since these stockings sizes vary by brand, you must know your body measurements and then use a brand’s sizing chart to determine the best size for you.
When You Should Not Use Compression Socks
Do not use compression socks if you have :
- Suspected or proven peripheral arterial disease
- Done a peripheral arterial bypass graft
- Peripheral neuropathy or other causes of sensory impairment
- Any local condition where compression stockings may cause damage. For example, fragile ’tissue paper’ skin, dermatitis, gangrene or recent skin graft
- Have a known allergy to the material of manufacture of these stockings
- Severe leg swelling
- A major limb deformity or unusual leg size or shape preventing correct fit.
- Serious caution is advised when applying anti-embolism stockings over venous ulcers or wounds.
Complications May Occur
One important thing is that even though these compression socks can prevent blood clot formation, they have a few complications. Unevenly distributed and excess pressure may cause skin ulcers, especially in older, malnourished patients and those with diabetes.
So if you have spent some time on bed, planning a long trip or scheduled for a surgery ask your doctor about compression socks. This is because blood clots can be dangerous and even life threatening.
But remember, if you are going to use the socks make sure you are properly assessed and monitored to ensure you are suitable to use them, you get the right stockings and you wear them appropriately.
Sachdeva A, et al. (2018). Graduated compression stockings for prevention of deep vein thrombosis. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001484.pub4/full
Bath P, et al. (2009). Effectiveness of thigh-length graduated compression stockings to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis after stroke (CLOTS trial 1): A multicentre, randomised controlled trial. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60941-7
Venous thromboembolism in over 16s: reducing the risk of hospital-acquire deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. Nice guideline ng89 (2018). https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng89
Bernard F Robertson, Collette H Thomson and Haroon Siddiqui. Br J Gen Pract 2014; 64 (623): 316- 317. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp14X680341
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