in The ANRF Chronicle
It is common to see runners with heavy-looking socks pulled to their knees, and while that may look hot for the occasion of distance running, there is a functional, performance-based reason for wearing this gear. Known as compression socks, they prevent injuries, enhance performance and shorten recovery periods. The impact of the compression gear for those managing arthritis pain can be as significant as it is for runners and other high-endurance athletes.
One of the most significant issues those suffering from arthritis are faced with is managing the pain that inflammation has on the body. Joint stiffness and swelling are two of the most impactful ailments that cause consistent pain and limit activity and mobility. Compression garments are becoming more commonly used among those with arthritis to decrease the frequency and severity of these symptoms.
Among the most common compression garments used to provide relief, comfort and therapy for arthritis are wrist, knee and foot sleeves, with compression socks being a beneficial item for many. The mild pressure applied from these compression garments provide significant benefits including:
- Improved blood flow by up to 30%. This increase in blood circulation brings oxygen and nutrients to the joint, relieving inflammation more rapidly.
- Reduced risk of falls: with alleviated stiffness and swelling in the joints, there is increased stability and mobility making it easier to safely move around.
- Increased mobility and activity: when the compression garment is appropriately worn/placed on the joint and area that is in pain, it alleviates the pressure from the surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments, allowing them to work together and provide stability and confidence for the body to be more mobile and active.
- Assists in heightening sensation in the area to which they apply pressure, creating better circulation (this is why many sports men and women use them despite not having inflamed joints).
The level of pressure these garments apply varies and is measured in millimeters of mercury:
- 8-15mmHg and 15-20mmHg are considered to provide low compression and are generally used to reduce swelling when flying or during pregnancy.
- 20-30mmHg garments are more commonly prescribed by doctors and offer medium compression suitable to help alleviate mild conditions.
- 30-50mmHg compression garments should only be used when prescribed by a doctor as they provide a high level of compression.
As with any new treatment or pain management therapy, it is important to have input from a doctor. In this case, a doctor can recommend the right compression treatment, garments and use of weight, which is essential to effective pain management. With many options available online and in stores, it is helpful to have the advice of a doctor to find the most functional, fashionable and cost-effective product for your specific needs.