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Am I the Only One Who’s Ankles Swell Up on Long Flights?

Okay, so this is real talk. I fly a lot. Over the years I have noticed something that has become a bit of a concern for me, swollen ankles from long flights that are so bad that I get pitted edema (that’s when you press on your skin and your finger impression lasts for a few minutes). This has been going on for some time now, so I asked my Dr. what he recommended and he said I should use compression socks or for long flights. Really? Well, I guess this officially marks me getting older, but I won’t get into that. So what are compression socks and why are they so useful for long haul flights and my pesky swollen ankles? 


Compression socks are recommended for various outdoor activities such as running, hiking, mountain climbing, and sports but they are also used for long periods of standing and sitting. These over-the-calf socks are designed with extra strong elastic that keeps the circulation flowing when your body doesn’t want to. Physicians generally recommend compression socks to patients for the treatment of different medical issues. Here, we will take a look at some of the medical benefits of wearing these over-the-calf socks. Some shoes are also better suited to prevent swelling.


What Else Can Compression Socks Be Used For Other Than Swollen Ankles From Long Flights?


Use Compression Socks for the Treatment of Swollen Legs


Medical experts recommend over the calf socks to reduce swelling in the legs, feet, and ankles. Leg swelling can occur due to various reasons such as being overweight, inactive and wearing tight socks. Sometimes, the leg starts to swell due to underlying heart disease. The swelling can be very painful in some cases. To treat the problem, you can use compression stockings. Compression socks apply pressure on the lower leg. This helps in improving the blood flow that reduces swelling in the legs.


Recommended for Edema Seen on Swollen Ankles from Long Flights


Compression socks are also helpful for patients suffering from Edema. The medical condition is associated with abnormal fluid buildup under the skin mostly noticed around the feet, ankles, and lower leg. Edema can be caused by various reasons including humid weather, sports injuries, surgery, pregnancy, and sitting for a long period of time. Doctors recommend patients suffering from pitted and non-pitted edema to wear compression stockings. The socks prevent buildup and retention of fluids. They create pressure on the legs of the patients that help alleviate symptoms of edema. 


Reduce the Risk of Leg Injuries


Compression socks also reduce the risk of leg injuries. Most leg injuries occur due to poor circulation in the lower limb. The medical term for poor blood flow in the legs is claudication. Compression stockings apply gentle pressure on the legs. This helps in maintaining blood flow in the lower leg. Due to the improved circulation in the lower limb, you are less likely to experience leg injuries when carrying out strenuous activities.


Prevents Varicose Veins


Medical experts also recommend compression socks to prevent varicose veins. The condition is associated with bulging, lumpy feet and legs. Symptoms of varicose include burning and throbbing sensation in the legs, dry itchy skin, and muscle cramps in legs. Compression leggings can help in easing the symptoms of varicose. The stockings are recommended for up to 6 months along with regular exercise.


Treatment of Lymphoedema


Lymphoedema is a chronic condition that is associated with swelling of the tissues of the body. The swelling can affect different body parts of the body including the legs. You can wear over the calf socks for the treatment of the condition. The medical grade socks apply pressure on the legs that drain lymph from the feet and ankles.


Reduces the Risk of Blood Clots Which Can Come From Swollen Ankles From Long Flights


Graduated compression stockings can also reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs. Blood clots form when the blood doesn’t flow properly. The clots can lead to different medical issues including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and atrial fibrillation. Compression leggings can be worn as a preventive measure during long flights. The socks improve blood flow towards the leg that reduces the risk of clot formation.


Treatment of Tibial Stress Syndrome


You can wear compression over the calf stockings as a preventive measure against tibial stress syndrome. This medical condition is usually experienced by athletes particularly football players and marathon runners.


Tibial stress syndrome is associated with throbbing pain. The condition is caused due to stress on the shinbone and surrounding tissues. The area becomes inflamed causing a lot of pain. Apart from sports activities, the medical condition can also occur due to wearing improperly fitted shoes, weak core muscle, and flat feet. This condition also normally occurs due to working out without proper warm-up stretches. If the medical condition is ignored, it can lead to a stress fracture.


Wearing knee-high socks can greatly reduce the risks of Tibial stress syndrome. The socks promote improved circulation. This reduces the pain, swellings, and fatigue associated with the medical condition.


Useful After Leg Surgery


Physicians recommend wearing knee-high socks after leg surgery. Wearing socks can accelerate the recovery process. The socks are recommended to be worn day and night for a few weeks after the surgery. This will reduce the risk of blood clot formation in the leg.


If you’re going to be traveling, especially if you haven’t traveled in a while, you should pack some compression socks in your carry on just in case you start to swollen ankles from long flights. It’s best to be ahead of the swelling by just wearing them to begin with, but try it out. You never know what new fun medical conditions life is going to bring you, so it’s best to be prepared just in case. 

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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