YANMD, but you *are* affordable. Is mild circulation cut-off damaging?
February 11, 2013 4:12 PM   Subscribe

For known medical reasons, I have recently starting to see swelling around/above the ankles. I know why - and the implications - so I'm good there. However, I have also started to notice that the tops of the low socks I wear leave a moderate impression in the swelling, suggesting that I am indeed cutting off some the circulation in the skin. And I believe I am seeing moderate discoloration in the top of the foot (and some times much more visible veins) as a result. Do I need to be concerned here? Am I doing damage worth avoiding? Do I need to look into a looser sock that does not grip as tightly (and therefore probably falls down more :-( ) ?
posted by Cardinal Fang! to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You're experiencing edema, and the socks are not necessarily cutting off blood circulation at all. If you poke your finger into your ankle swelling, and hold it for awhile, you'll (briefly) leave a depression - all that's happening is that some of the fluid is being displaced.

I'm not going to say anything about the edema, since you say you're well aware of the etiology in your case, but obviously, it can be a concern in certain circumstances. The discoloration is a separate issue from the socks possibly cutting off circulation - and that might be a bigger cause for concern, especially if you have diabetes.

Re: socks - there are always those sock suspenders/garters.
posted by VikingSword at 4:18 PM on February 11, 2013

I'm pretty sure that what you need is tighter socks, not looser socks - AKA compression socks. IANAD.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:19 PM on February 11, 2013

And you say you are not doctors! I have new information to work with, and I think it will be useful. I consider this question well answered.

PS. I'm looking at the picture in Wikipedia... can't draw my eyes away from the hair on the leg above the nylons... horrified, but cannot withdraw... flashes of Namath.
posted by Cardinal Fang! at 5:19 PM on February 11, 2013

I'm in no way any sort of medical professional but a relative of mine who has heart problems and a variety of other conditions that resulted in fairly bad, constant edema in the lower legs for many years developed gravitational eczema.

At this point it mostly just makes the condition of her legs look way, way worse than it actually is (like, some people have asked if she's going to need her legs amputated but to my understanding it's nowhere near that serious in and of itself, it's just a skin condition; though it does compound with other problems to make small scratches and injuries more severe and slower-healing than they would be otherwise) but if that's at all a possible outcome for you I think it's well worth avoiding.

In addition to the compression socks that DarlingBri mentions, a bit of advice she's received is to sit with her legs elevated above her heart whenever possible, so it's been a great excuse to buy a fancy recliner. Reducing sodium intake in her diet has been emphasized too. (Of course, you'd want to get advice from your doctor in your own case.)
posted by XMLicious at 5:20 PM on February 11, 2013

Are you sure you know the cause? Honestly, it sounds very likely that you have edema...so if you don't know you have edema, how can you know what the cause is?

Some causes of edema are pretty serious, not to worry you, but it's definitely something you should have checked out by a doctor.
posted by mockpuppet at 5:56 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of socks designed specifically for people with edema, both compression socks and socks designed to stay up without being restrictive. The kind of socks you need probably depends on the reason for your edema, and the treatment (s) you are undertaking for it, or for the underlying cause.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:12 PM on February 11, 2013

Socks for swollen feet and ankles. Some are compression/support socks; some are "extra roomy" and designed not to bind. Lots of options.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:17 PM on February 11, 2013

If the swelling is due to Venous Insufficiency, discoloration is a consequence of the disorder. Compression stockings are recommended for it, as is exercise. For mine, walking is the most effective treatment I've found.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 10:01 PM on February 11, 2013

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