Neuropathy refers to a condition that results from damage to one or more nerves in the body, most commonly in the hands and feet. The condition is closely linked with diabetes, though it can have a variety of causes, from injuries to infections. In any case, neuropathy affects millions of Americans, with the number of diagnoses increasing every year. Fortunately, if you suffer from neuropathy, there are various treatment options that you can discuss with your doctor.
But even if you have already discussed some your condition and treatment options with your doctor, you probably still have questions. For example, what exactly is neuropathy? What symptoms does it cause? Finally, how can compression socks offer relief from neuropathy of the feet?
In today’s guide, we will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s examine what it means to experience neuropathy in the feet:
What Is Neuropathy in Feet?
Neuropathy in feet is a common medical issue that arises from nerve damage, frequently in or near the area where the symptoms arise. However, you can still experience neuropathy in your feet even when the damaged nerve is in a different part of the body. It just depends on how that nerve damage affects the rest of the peripheral nervous system. In any case, most people who suffer from neuropathy in the feet report feelings of numbness in the feet and ankles, as well as pain, weakness, burning, and the sensation of walking on “pens and needles.”
As previously mentioned, diabetic neuropathy is very common. This can occur in patients who have diabetes that has caused nerve damage, most often in the feet and legs. The experience of symptoms varies widely from one patient to another. Some patients with peropheral neuropathy caused by diabetes have very mild symptoms (occasional pain, mild tingling sensations, etc), while patients with more extreme cases can experience severe symptoms and potentially even fatal effects. This is why it is so important to talk to your doctor if you have diabetes and believe that it could be the cause of your neuropathy.
Naturally, diabetes is not the sole cause of neuropathy in the feet. As previously mentioned, injuries, infections, and even exposure to toxic substances can cause damage to the nerves that results in neuropathy. Additionally, neuropathy from chemotherapy can happen when chemo treatment causes damage to the peripheral nervous system. Consequently, patients being treated for various types of cancer should be on the lookout for symptoms of neuropathy in the feet and lower legs.
Are Compression Socks Good For Neuropathy?
Compression socks offer excellent support to the feet, ankles, and legs for many different conditions, including neuropathy. The varied degrees of compression can help just about anyone get extra physical support and bloodflow to the lower quarter of the body. This makes compression socks a popular option among healthy athletes and ailing patients alike.
Compression socks are frequently prescribed by physicians for patients with chronic conditions of the feet and legs. For example, many patients experiencing varicose veins, poor circulation in the feet, lymphatic fluid buildup, or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) can benefit from compression socks. It can also be a great way of preventing the onset of numbness or tingling sensations due to a lack of circulation before these symptoms set in.
When it comes to neuropathy, compression socks are one option to help increase bloodflow and reduce the uncomfortable tingling, numbness, and burning sensations associated with the condition. However, you will need to talk with your doctor before using compression socks for neuropathy of the feet.
Why? Because compression socks do not always work for neuropathy. It will depend on your specific condition, the severity of the symptoms, and the underlying cause of your condition. In fact, some patients report increased neuropathic pain when using high-level compression socks. Therefore, it is vital that you discuss the best treatment plan for you with your doctor before making any decisions.
However, this does not mean you should be afraid to use compression socks if you have neuropathy; you simply need to consult your doctor beforehand. With the right compression levels, many patients see great results, particularly patients that have intermittent symptoms. In short, compression socks can be very good for treating the symptoms and can make a great addition to nerve pain medication.
How Compression Socks Help With Numbness In Feet
While compression socks can make neuropathy worse in certain situations, many patients report a significant reduction in numbness and tingling while using compression socks. This is due to the fact that compression socks specifically work to put pressure on the circulatory system in the feet and legs, which speeds up blood flow. The most common culprit of numb feet is poor circulation, which is also a common effect of neuropathy. As a result, compression socks can work to speed up blood flow and reduce numbness at the same time.
If your doctor believes compression socks could help your condition, they will likely prescribe a specific compression level (or range of levels) based on your needs. Here is a rundown of the different compression level categories:
- Light (8 to 15 mmHg) - Light amounts of pressure are ideal for people with relatively mild cases of neuropathy. For example, if you just get an occasional sting of pain or feeling of numbness in your feet, using light compression socks can help ease the symptoms and make it more comfortable to move around. These are typically the same socks used by athletes to increase blood flow without causing too much constriction or limitations to movemment, making them one of the most effective and comfortable compression sock options for neuropathy patients.
- Moderate (15 to 20 mmHg) - Moderate compression socks provide more pressure and therefore more relief for persistent neuropathy symptoms. Both light and moderate compression socks are unlikely to cause complications with your condition, but you should still talk to your doctor before making any changes to your current treatment plan.
- Firm (20 to 30 mmHg) - Firm compression socks may be prescribed if your symptoms are severe and your doctor does not see any potential risks to using stronger socks for your neuropathy. This range of compression is generally reserved for medical conditions, but since some people with neuropathy can react negatively to compression socks, you and your doctor should proceed with caution.
- Extra Firm (30 to 40 mmHg) - Extra firm compression socks provide the highest degree of pressure to to your feet and legs. While it may be safe to use them based on the instructions of your doctor, they could put too much pressure on your feet and actually make numbness and poor blood flow even worse. So, like any kind of compression sock, you should not use these unless given specific instructions to do so from your primary care physician or a neuropathy specialist.
The Best Compression Socks For Neuropathy
While compression socks may not be the right answer for every neuropathy patient, they can help the majority of patients find relief from their symptoms. However, no two pairs of compression socks are exactly alike. Some brands offer better materials and production methods than others. So, here are a few of the best compression sock brands for neuropathy:
We hope you found this guide on compression socks for neuropathy both useful and informative! Are you currently in the market for compression socks or other compression wear? If so, be sure to reach out to Compression Health today!