When blood clots form in the vein deep inside your body, the condition is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). These clots usually affect the legs and thighs but can occur anywhere in the body. Doctors may recommend compression stockings to help reduce symptoms like swelling and improve the blood flow to the heart and lungs. DVT can affect anyone and is accompanied by swelling, pain, or tenderness, with the skin feeling warm to the touch. It’s a serious condition that can cause pulmonary embolism – when the blood clot travels to the lungs and blocks an artery. So, Can Compression Stockings Dislodge a Clot? Let’s check it out inside
Living with DVT
Deep vein thrombosis can be fatal if not treated early. It takes around three to six months for a blood clot to go away and it can be difficult to live with the symptoms. Some of the things you can do to alleviate the pain and swelling include elevating your leg.
You should also talk to your doctor about using compression stockings. They create pressure on your leg to reduce the swelling and relieve the pain. For some people, the clot may never fully dissolve, causing scar tissue in the veins. DVT can also lead to post-thrombotic syndrome – a collection of symptoms, which include swelling, pain, sores, and skin damage.
How Compression Stockings Work
Compression stockings look like tights or pantyhose, but are made with different materials and serve a specific purpose. The elastic fabric compresses (squeezes) your leg in a way that improves blood flow.
They are tighter around the ankle and less tight around the thighs and calves. The compression stockings create pressure that pushes blood up your leg, allowing it to flow freely from the legs to the heart. They also help reduce swelling and pain and are usually recommended by doctors for the prevention of DVT since it stops blood from pooling and clotting.
This therapeutic squeezing eases discomfort and prevents feelings of lightheadedness when you stand up, making it easier for you to move around.
Several studies suggest that compression stockings are effective in relieving the symptoms associated with DVT. In one study of 1,681 people, those wearing compression stockings before and after surgery, only nine percent developed DVT. 21 percent of those who didn’t wear compression stockings developed DVT.
Another study concluded that compression stockings could prevent DVT and pulmonary embolism in people on flights of at least four hours. Blood clots in the leg are common after a long flight due to prolonged sitting in a confined space.
Types of Compression Stockings
You can buy compression stockings at your local pharmacy or medical supply store. The type you buy will vary depending on the location of your DVT and the symptoms. You can choose compression stockings that cover most of your leg or those that only rise to your knees.
Some doctors may recommend compression stockings that end at the knee. These work just as well as those that end at the thigh and are generally less expensive, more comfortable, and easy to pull on.
Most people go for over-the-counter stockings. However, they tend to apply only light, consistent pressure. You’ll be better off with prescription stockings that apply more pressure.
There are also battery-powered compression stockings, sometimes called “intermittent” or “pneumatic” compression stockings. They apply different amounts of pressure at different times. According to some research, these types of stockings may improve the quality of life when the other compression stockings fail.
How to Use Compression Stockings
Compression stockings are worn by people with DVT. Your doctor may also prescribe them after you experience leg trauma or have surgery to help alleviate swelling and discomfort.
Typically, compression stockings are worn during the day, though the doctor may suggest that you wear them at night. Generally, it’s advisable to wear them first thing in the morning before you stand up and start moving – your legs are least swollen in the morning.
When you start moving around, your legs can start to swell, making it hard to put on the stockings. Be sure to smooth the stockings as you put them on to prevent bunches or kinks. Additionally, check to ensure the stockings’ seams run straight up your legs.
Compression stockings are elastic and tight, so, you may want to apply lotion to your skin before putting them on. Doing so enables the stockings to glide up your leg. Allow the lotion to fully absorb into your skin before attempting to put the stocking on.
Wear the stockings continuously throughout the day until bedtime. Wash the stockings after each use using mild soap and air dry them. The stockings may need to be replaced every four to six months.
Deep vein thrombosis can cause pain, swelling, and discomfort. It can be life-threatening if the blood clots travel to your lungs. Understanding the symptoms associated with DVT makes it easier for you to identify them and seek treatment.
DVT is common after taking a long trip, surgery, or experiencing leg trauma. Compression stockings are recommended to help manage the swelling and pain that comes with DVT. When choosing a DVT, it’s important to get the correct size, with the right amount of tightness.