Can Compression Socks Be Too Tight?

Can Compression Socks Be Too Tight?
Can Compression Socks Be Too Tight?

It takes a while to get used to compression socks. It's natural for newbies to wonder if their socks aren't just tight but too tight. It's natural to take a few days (or if you are like the writer of this article, more than a few days) going through the frustration of mastering the technique of donning compression garments before it's an easy experience to put them on. But how could you tell if your socks really were too small or too tight?

There are several signs that your compression socks may be too tight

  • It hurts to wear your socks. Compression garments are supposed to feel snug, but they aren't supposed to hurt.
  • Wearing your socks changes the color of your skin. Compression isn't supposed to blanch your skin, and it isn't supposed to make your skin red. However, be sure to take note of the color of your skin before you start wearing your prescribed compression socks. If your skin is already red from venous reflux disease, wearing graduate compression socks isn't supposed to make it redder. Also, if you start using a moisturizer, or you change moisturizers, your skin may look redder than before.
  • Wearing compression socks or compression tights leaves vertical marks on your skin. The stretch fibers in compression garments aren't supposed to be so tight that they leave marks.
  • You can't get your socks on at all.

Let's take a look at what you need to do in each of these situations.

What do you do when it hurts to wear your socks?

Compression socks are never supposed to hurt. However, pain in your legs after you put on socks for graduated compression doesn't always mean that your socks are too tight. Here are some situations in which the problem is really something else.

  • You have an infection in the skin of your legs. It's best to let your doctor examine "angry" redness in your legs for other signs of infection. If your legs feel feverish, it's possible that your socks are too tight, but that's not the only problem.
  • If you have had diabetes for several years or longer, pain in your legs can be due to neuropathy. Ironically, neuropathic pain gets worse when you are taking the steps to get your diabetes under better control and your nerves start healing. If compression socks are just part of recent changes you have made to improve your overall health, look for other signs like redness or marks on your skin.
  • You have burning pain, pain that feels like you are getting zapped with electricity, or stabbing pain in your legs. Pain from too-tight socks is dull pressure pain that runs up and down your legs.

If the pain in your legs is pressure pain, the first thing to do is to take new measurements of the circumference of your legs. Use a tape measure to get the circumference of your legs at the narrow point just above your ankles. Then measure your leg at the widest point of your calves. As long as the socks reach as high as they are supposed to reach, you don't need to take another measurement of the length of your legs.

Use these new measurements to choose the right size of sock with the help of Discount Surgical's measurement chart. It also helps to make sure that your socks aren't bunching up behind your knees. If they are, you may need a shorter or longer sock. If you have pain in your feet, then it may help to switch to open-toed socks.

What do you do if wearing compression socks changes the color of your skin?

The first thing to do if wearing compression socks changes the color of your skin is to make sure the problem isn't a skin infection. Skin infections cause redness, but they also cause pain, heat, swelling, and, if the infection is advanced, loss of function. If you have these cardinal signs of infection, stop wearing the socks and call your doctor.

If the only change after wearing your new socks for compression is redness or whiteness in your skin, then try a light application of a moisturizing cream before you put on your socks, and make sure you stay well hydrated. These two changes can make a big difference in the color of your skin.

What do you do if wearing compression socks leaves marks on your skin?

It's not unusual to get a ring around your leg where the top of the sock has been pressing against your skin all day if your socks are too tight. And it's not unusual to have vertical marks on your skin from the elastic that holds them up if your socks are too tight.
You should only consider changing the size of your compression socks, however, if you have these problems when you have been wearing your socks regularly for at least a week. Otherwise, the problem may be one of these conditions:

  • You just started wearing compression, and it hasn't had a chance to control your swelling. You may have to wait several days for compression to start working if you have lymphedema or problems with venous reflux disease.
  • You are experiencing fluid retention. With women, this may be an issue when estrogen levels are higher. In both sexes, compression garments may be tighter and leave marks if you have indulged in a high-sodium meal.

Some wearers need socks with extra-wide calves. Discount Surgical has options for people who need extra room in the calves.

And what do you do if you just can't get your socks on at all?

It takes some practice to become adept at putting on compression socks. Bunching up the socks around your feet and pulling them up a little at a time won't work. This technique concentrates compression around your feet so it's a feat of strength to pull up your socks.

An easier approach is inserting your hand into the sock and grabbing the top of the heel pocket (not the toe). This maneuver opens the stocking and makes it easier to get it over your foot.

There's also a SIMON donning device that focuses all of your efforts into pulling the sock upward.

Discount Surgical has compression tights, leggings, knee-highs, and socks in every size and in multiple styles and colors. We have the best selection of compression socks at the best price, and we're here to help you find exactly the size you need.

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