Thinking Citizen Blog — Compression Socks Matter
Thinking Citizen Blog — Thursday is Health, Health Care and Global Health Policy Day
Today’s Topic: Compression socks matter. What else does that everyone should know about but might not?
Lives could be saved by preventing falls. Putting stuff on stairs increases the odds of falls. How many people still put stuff on stairs? Long distance flights raise the risk of a thrombus in your legs which could become an embolism that could go somewhere like your lungs where you really don’t want them to go. How many people put on compression socks before they fly to Europe or Asia or California? A simple lumbar support changed my life relieving lower back pain. It was not until I was over 50 years old that I learned about the risks of mixing ammonia and bleach and the importance of knowing exactly where the water main shut-off is in my house. Today’s theme is sharing practical health and safety related tips that you wish you knew about sooner than you did. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
COMPRESSION SOCKS — “a very underutilized option” (Dr. Botek, Cleveland Clinic)
1. “90% of leg disorders originate in the veins.”
2. Venous insufficiency is a “failure of the valves of the veins to function.” Blood is retained in the veins. The heart gets less of it.
3. Compression socks reduce “excess fluid leakage from the capillaries” and “increases the absorption of this tissue fluid by the capillaries and lymphatic vessels.”
NB: Personal note. I had noticed my lower left leg was changing shape. At first I thought it was that my calf muscles were growing from all the calf-raises and the focus on more explosive movement on the squash court. Nope. Venous insufficiency. It was not until a year later and after many physician consultations that compression socks were mentioned.
A GOOD IDEA FOR ATHLETES? many theories, little evidence
1. Theories: increasing oxygen delivery to muscles, improving blood circulation, speeding the removal of lactic acid.
2. Little evidence on mechanism of action. Might improve recovery.
3. More protective: “The materials that compression socks are made from are usually thicker than the average sock so they’re protecting the skin and keeping the legs warm and dry.” (Botek)
HISTORY — the Neolithic (5000–2500 BC), Hippocrates (460–370 BC), Galen (100–200CE)
1. Neolithic: “images of soldiers with bandaged lower extremities were found in the drawings of the caves of Tassili in Sahara.”
2. Hippocrates: “treated his patients’ leg ulcers with tight bandages,”
3. Galen: “used wool and linen compression bandages to prevent blood from pooling in the legs”
NB: Use of compression socks for the treatment of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) began in the late 19th century with German phlebotologists Fisher and Lasker. The list of DVT sufferers include: Richard Nixon, Hilary Clinton, Serena Williams…
For the last three years of posts organized by theme:
Please share the most interesting thing you learned in the last week related to health, health care or health care policy — the ethics, economics, politics, history…. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to health are or health care policy that the rest of us may have missed. Or just some random health-related fact that blew you away.
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something really important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about something that matters.