Is it edema when you roll down your tight socks and see that big indent in your leg?

“I have a memory of my grandmother, who used an elastic band to hold up her stockings,” begins Marc I. Leavey, MD, a primary care physician with 40-plus years of experience.

“At the end of the day, when she would roll them down, there was a clear groove in her leg above slightly swollen calves.

It turns out that blood pumped down to the legs requires the relatively weak pumping action of calf muscles to return that blood to the circulation.

“External compression on surface veins can cause that blood, and another body fluid called lymph, to stagnate in the legs.

“This produces the surface irregularities that mirror the constricting devices that had been used on the legs.

“These days, tight socks can do the same thing, as can about anything else that impedes the circulation.

“Avoiding such constriction, walking around a bit to get those body fluids back in circulation, and even elevating the legs once freed of constraints all help to obliterate those nasty lines.”

If only your tight socks are causing edema, you have nothing to worry about.

However, you may already have edema that’s being caused by a medical problem or lifestyle habit, and the tight socks are simply making this fluid buildup more noticeable or aggravating it.

Lay off the tight socks to see if it disappears. If not, you need to find out why this swelling is occurring.

Dr. Leavey was formerly with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, where his focus was primary care and internal medicine. He has a blog, STRING OF MEDICAL PEARLS.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.