Getting diagnosed with post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) can be daunting. But, just because it’s a serious condition, it doesn’t mean you can’t manage the symptoms and live with the freedom to continue doing the things you love.
While anyone can develop PTS, it most commonly occurs weeks or months after you’ve had a blot clot in a vein deep within your body, called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Studies estimate that almost half of people with proximal DVT will develop post-thrombotic sequelae.
If you’ve had DVT and want to prevent PTS, or if you’ve already been diagnosed with PTS and want to manage your symptoms, there are a number of supportive therapies you can use for post-thrombotic syndrome prevention or treatment. While there is no cure for PTS, you can still feel your best while living with post-thrombotic syndrome by making small, sustainable changes in your daily life.
One of the most effective (and easiest) ways to prevent or treat PTS is through the use of compression socks for swelling. While studies on using compression therapy are still ongoing, some studies have found that below-knee compression socks for DVT can reduce the rate of developing PTS by approximately 50%.
How do compression socks help? It’s quite simple. By gently applying pressure to the legs and feet, they improve circulation, relieve swelling, and help manage the symptoms of PTS.
Read on to find out how compression socks work, and see how they can help keep your post-thrombotic syndrome symptoms mild and stable so you can get back to living a pain-free life.
What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) refers to a blood clot that occurs in one of the body’s deep veins. It usually occurs in the legs—although it can occur anywhere in the body—and is a common condition in people over the age of 65.
Some of the DVT risk factors include:
- Being over the age of 65
- Sitting or standing for long periods
- Bed rest or hospitalization
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Family history of blood clots
- The contraceptive pill
Deep vein thrombosis symptoms include pain, swelling, enlarged veins, and shortness of breath. Studies have shown that wearing graduated compression socks can help reduce the risk of DVT in hospitalized patients, and they can also help prevent DVT in those with previous episodes of DVT, coagulation disorders, obesity, and limited mobility.
What is PTS?
Post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) is a condition that can occur after you have had deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Blood clots in the deep veins can damage the valves that help blood flow toward the heart. The resulting heightened pressure in the veins and capillaries can cause pain, swelling, and ulcers.
After having DVT, 20% to 50% of patients will develop PTS, and 5% to 10% will develop severe PTS. Some of the risk factors for developing post-thrombotic syndrome include:
- Older age
- A BMI over 35
- DVT that occurs above the knee
- No, late, or incomplete treatment of DVT
- A history of multiple DVTs
- Pre-existing vein diseases
While there is no cure for PTS, Dr. Aaron Aday, a cardiologist and vascular medicine specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, notes that compression socks are one of the few proven therapies to help treat PTS.
What are the signs of PTS?
The most common post-thrombotic syndrome symptoms are swelling and dull ache or pain in the affected leg. Other symptoms may include:
- A sense of fullness or heaviness in the leg
- Cramping in the leg
- Restlessness in the leg
- Trouble sleeping because of leg pain
- Stasis dermatitis on the lower legs and ankles
How is PTS diagnosed?
If you have had DVT, your healthcare provider is likely to check for PTS symptoms at your follow-up appointments. PTS can be diagnosed clinically, meaning that if your symptoms and history are consistent with PTS, you can be diagnosed without further testing.
In some cases where clinical diagnosis is inconclusive, your healthcare provider may recommend further testing. The two most common testing methods for PTS are blood tests to check for clotting and ultrasounds to identify problems in the veins.
As time goes on, PTS symptoms can become more severe, so it’s vital to get a diagnosis and begin treatment as early as possible.
What is the treatment for PTS?
Although there is no cure for PTS, sustainable, lifelong treatment can relieve your symptoms and empower you to live an active, independent life. Some of the post-thrombotic syndrome treatment options your healthcare provider may recommend include:
Wear compression socks
Wearing compression socks can help reduce swelling and pain in your affected leg by improving your circulation and preventing fluid from pooling in the extremities.
Do leg exercises
Doing exercises that move your ankle and foot can help improve blood flow in your leg and reduce swelling.
If recommended by your doctor, losing weight can help reduce the pain and swelling in your affected leg.
Take pain relievers
Taking over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, can help ease your PTS symptoms. This should always be done with direction from your healthcare professional.
In some cases, surgery may be needed to remove any remaining blood clots or to repair damaged veins.
How do compression socks help?
Compression socks are socks of various lengths that are designed to apply pressure to the ankle or leg. Compression sock levels also vary, providing different amounts of pressure based on your needs.
While compression socks feature a simple design, the science behind them is robust. Providing gentle, consistent pressure in the legs helps improve circulation, promotes better blood flow, reduces inflammation, and prevents blood from pooling in the extremities.
Post-thrombotic syndrome often causes inflammation and edema (painful swelling caused by fluid retention). Wearing compression socks for edema can increase blood circulation from the legs back to the heart, ultimately helping to reduce swelling and ease pain.
Studies show that wearing compression socks daily for two years after having proximal DVT can reduce the risk of developing PTS. As a result, healthcare providers frequently recommend compression socks for DVT and PTS, and they have become a cornerstone of prevention and ongoing treatment.
How can I prevent PTS?
If you've had DVT or are worried about developing PTS due to your age, weight, or lifestyle, there are some steps you can take to lower your risk of developing PTS:
- Wear compression socks
- Do leg exercises regularly
- Elevate your legs
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Take anticoagulant medication (under medical supervision)
Continued treatment for post-thrombotic syndrome can vastly improve your quality of life by reducing swelling and pain.
Healthcare providers recommend a multidisciplinary approach to treatment that includes lifestyle changes, exercise, weight loss, medication, and the daily use of compression socks. While making holistic lifestyle changes is difficult for anyone, wearing compression socks for swelling, edema, PTS, and DVT is one of the quickest and easiest changes you can make to prevent or manage venous conditions.
Pear Compression offers some of the best compression socks for swelling, DVT, PST, and edema available on the market. Each pair of Pear Compression socks are meticulously designed and manufactured in Italy, giving you peace of mind that our socks are always made from the highest quality materials. One of our compression socks’ benefits is that they are hypoallergenic and ultra-breathable, meaning they’re perfectly safe for use after surgery while the skin is still highly sensitive.
Along with improving circulation and overall wellness, Pear Compression socks for DVT and PST come in a range of fun designs to keep you looking your best while on the road to recovery. If you can’t make up your mind which pair you like the most, try out our 3-pack of knee-high compression socks for a stylish variety of socks made to match any outfit.
Shop our online store for a wide variety of styles, colors, and cute messages or read our blog for help finding your perfect pair of compression socks.
While we do make every effort to produce accurate and up-to-date content, the information in this blog article is provided for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or local emergency resources immediately. Reliance on any information provided in this blog article is solely at your own risk.