Some diabetic socks aren’t that much different from traditional compression socks. Often, they incorporate the same mix of features. However, as a person with diabetes, you should know that there are some noticeable differences between the two.
Let’s take a look at diabetic socks vs. compression socks.
Why Diabetes Patients Need to Protect Their Feet
In the United States, roughly 26 million people have diabetes. Medical professionals speculate that up to 7 million Americans are undiagnosed, and 80 million are at risk of developing the condition at one point in their life.
People with diabetes suffer more foot problems than those who don’t suffer from the condition. Diabetes can cause damage to blood vessels in the legs and feet. That affects blood circulation in the feet and legs, which leads to swellings, increases infection risk, and many more diabetes complications.
Even ordinary, non-lethal problems can easily take a turn for the worse when dealing with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, poor blood flow in the feet can cause:
If you have diabetes, you need to have your feet examined by your healthcare provider at least once a year. A typical exam includes a visual check of your feet for signs of swelling or small infections, in addition to tests, which measure your sensation levels.
How Prescription Socks Help People With Diabetes
In case your feet are prone to swelling, your physician may prescribe special socks that will help you relive it. These socks provide compressions on your legs, ankles, and feet and help you control swelling and other problems. While these socks are used as a preventive measure, these socks also provide:
1. Proper Circulation in the Feet
The compression of diabetic socks gives you the most robust support at the ankle level. The support gradually decreases towards the top of the sock, closest to the knee. A lack of blood circulation to your feet can make injuries worse and slow your healing time. With proper socks, you’ll be able to maintain adequate blood flow and stop problems such as these from happening in the first place.
2. Prevention of Blood Clots
If you have diabetes, you’re at risk of developing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). That’s because high blood sugar levels can dehydrate your body. That makes the blood thicker and leads to the development of blood clots in your veins. A single blood clot can travel to your lungs and cause a heart attack. In extreme cases, DVT can even lead to premature death.
3. Overall Foot Protection
Even though diabetes is a blood sugar-related disease, the nerve damage it causes can be a big problem for your feet. Many diabetes patients lose feeling in their extremities. Research shows that about 50% of all people with diabetes have nerve damage any some part of their body. Diabetic socks will help you keep the feeling in your feet, all while protecting you from cuts, sores, and other wounds.
Diabetic Socks vs. Compression Socks
Some compression stockings aren't too different from diabetic socks, they often incorporate a mix of the same features. However, compression socks have bands that begin at the ankle and go all the way up to the knee or higher, and diabetic socks tend to only have two bands.
There are several reasons why ordinary socks aren’t a good idea for people with diabetes. For starters, the seam at the toe can irritate a major pressure point in the foot. These socks are also made from cotton, which prevents moisture from escaping the sock.
If your skin becomes too moist, it will start to break down quickly. Before you know it, you’ll be dealing with a foot infection. That’s why you need special socks.
Diabetic socks are usually loose-fitting. They’re designed to protect your feet from added pressure, sores, blisters, as well as moisture. Compression socks, on the other hand, are rather snug. They’re designed to prevent blood from pooling your lower extremities and causing circulation problems.
Do you need to buy special diabetic socks, or can you go to a pharmacy and get a pair of compression socks and enjoy all of the benefits? Let’s see how diabetic socks compare to pressure socks:
Diabetic socks are specifically designed to fit your feet and conform to the shape of your foot. Most models have very few seams, while others don’t have any seams at all. Unlike traditional socks, they don’t have any elastic, so you won’t have to worry about the fabric bunching up under your toes or around the heel area.
Moreover, diabetic socks are made from fine-textured fabrics like nylon, spandex, and wool. That’s why they help you reduce abrasion against your skin. Last but not least, they have extra padding at all of the sensitive points in the feet. Padding around the heel and toes will prevent any friction-caused injuries and allow you to participate in sports activities.
Compression socks are made to relieve the pain of your extremities using strong elastics. These socks allow blood to flow back to your heart. You can find these socks almost anywhere, including your local farmers market, pharmacy, or on a large retail website like Amazon.
While some compression socks have similar features as diabetic socks, they often have bands that start at the ankle and go all the way up to the knee. For diabetes patients, they provide too much restriction, which prevents blood from flowing freely.
Some don’t even have additional padding on the bottom, which can cause scratches and sores during long walks, runs, and other physical activities.
The Bottom Line on Diabetic Socks vs. Compression Socks
Diabetic socks aren’t the same as compression ones. They’re designed to provide light compression, which can ease feet swelling without inhibiting blood flow. On the other hand, compression socks are designed to increase constriction so that the blood could return more quickly to the person’s heart.
That doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from compression socks, as there's an application for both. However, we recommend that you speak to your doctor to see what they recommend for you.
If you have diabetes, you should buy diabetic socks to prevent many potentially lethal problems and lead an everyday life.