Prescription socks may sound like a bizarre concept, but anyone dealing with vascular distress knows that they are often one of the first steps in treatment. Compression hose therapy utilizes these special socks, also referred to as compression stockings, to combat a plethora of chronic venous diseases.
The act of applying pressure around the leg to relieve pain dates back thousands of years, in the form of gauze wraps used by several societies. Compression stockings as we understand them today were first invented by German-born entrepreneur Conrad Jobst (if you are familiar with compression stockings at all, you may recognize that last name). After moving to the United States shortly before the first World War, Conrad set to acquiring patents for dozens of inventions--his work veers from sunroofs in cars to gun sights for aerial fighters. A sufferer of venous problems, himself, Jobst rejected physicians belief that amputation may be his only hope for relief from his problems and developed some elastic stockings to provide external compression and offer him some relief--a thought he came up with after finding his pain alleviated by the pressure of a swimming pool--and quickly marketed the product. He founded the JOBST company in Toledo, OH, to market his new line of medical hosiery, and they continue to be a corporate leader in the field.
Usually the prescribed stockings are worn from waking until bedtime. Unless specifically instructed by a doctor, it is always best to avoid sleeping in compression socks--by their very nature, they can cut off the circulation in the legs. When worn while upright, the stockings work with the natural systems of your circulation. By applying pressure on the leg throughout the day, they reduce the diameter of veins in the legs, prevent pooling/clotting, generally improve blood flow, relieve pain, and minimize swelling.
Compression stockings come in a variety of squeeze strengths, and can be knee-high, thigh-high, or full stocking lengths. They do not have to be uncomfortable, and should never be painful. Talk to your doctor if you think compression hose therapy could benefit you.