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Focus on Health: Let’s Talk Socks!

By: Dr. Schoer

Compression socks are not just for your older adult years and don’t have to look like traditional pantyhose! Compression socks can help a broad range of people and as you may have seen in the clinic, these socks also come in a variety of modern styles and colours to blend seamlessly with any outfit.

What are compression socks?

Our bodies are made up of arteries which carry blood away from the heart to the rest of our body; our veins return used blood back to our heart to be re-oxygenized and used again. As we age and/or put more demand on our veins by standing for long periods of time, going through pregnancy, playing sports, etc., our veins slowly start to decrease in efficiency and can no longer pump blood back to our heart from our feet effectively. This, along with certain underlying health conditions, can lead to signs and symptoms such as cold feet, swelling in the ankles and legs, varicose veins, spider veins, etc.

The primary purpose of these snug-fitting garments is to apply pressure on the legs and feet to help our veins, ultimately improving blood circulation, reducing swelling, and preventing or alleviating various medical conditions related to our circulatory and lymphatic systems – e.g., varicose veins, lymphedema, diabetes-related issues, pregnancy-related issues, etc.

Compression Strength

Compression socks come in a variety of compression strengths, meaning how much pressure does the sock provide, and this ranges from 15mmHg to 40mmHg. The strength of compression recommended to an individual depends on the sock’s purpose – are you using the compression socks to help alleviate tired, achy legs after standing all day or are you treating an underlying medical condition?

Compression socks of 15-20mmHg are considered non-medical grade and do not require a prescription to purchase. Because of this, these types of compression socks are not covered by extended health benefits. This level of compression is considered mild and is used more general comfort in those without underlying conditions or improving physical performance in athletes.

On the contrary, compression socks of 20mmHg or higher are considered medical grade and do require a prescription from your physician. Because of this, most extended health benefits provide coverage for these types of compression socks. The most commonly used strength of compression is 20-30mmHg. This is considered mild-moderate compression and is typically used for travelling, work, cold feet, and those with varicose veins, spider veins, or swollen ankles.

Compression socks with a strength of 30-40mmHg is considered moderate-high compression and is used for more severe underlying circulatory or lymphatic conditions.

Compression Socks for Travel

Compression socks are particularly beneficial when travelling long-distance or when sitting for extended periods of time such as on flights or in the car. They can help with preventing deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) and reducing leg swelling by promoting blood flow and preventing fluid buildup in the legs, respectively. 

Compression Socks for Work

People who spend long hours on their feet or experience tired, aching legs can benefit from compression socks as they help reduce swelling, prevent varicose veins, and alleviate pain by minimizing fluid buildup, promoting better blood circulation and vein function, and providing support to the muscles in the legs.

What is the process to get compression socks?

First, talk to your medical doctor if you plan on utilizing your extended health benefits. They will provide a prescription for compression socks should you both agree that they would be beneficial.

With your prescription, you can then book an appointment with one of the chiropractors at the clinic for a compression sock fitting. We do not charge for these visits, which only take approximately 15 minutes. We will discuss your needs to determine the best type of sock for you and take measurements of both legs in order to fit you properly.

We provide 3 different lengths of socks: knee-high, thigh-high, or waist-high which are priced at $160, $180, $200 (tax inclusive), respectively. A statement is provided for you to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement, if you have coverage. 

If you have any questions regarding compression socks and the fitting process, please ask one of our chiropractors for more information.

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