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What are TED Socks?

By Henry Gaudet
Updated Feb 27, 2024
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Thrombo-Embolic Deterrent (TED) socks are medical devices worn on the legs of patients to manage the risk of conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and blood clots. TED socks, also known as anti-embolism stockings, are recommended primarily for patients who are confined to bed and patients convalescing after surgery who are largely immobile. Patients suffering from chronic edema, paralysis or numbness, or those with a history of DVT or pulmonary embolism also might be required to use the devices. The elastic TED socks squeeze the legs, which reduces swelling and promotes a healthy flow of blood.

Patients who are bedridden and unable to move are at risk for DVT, which can cause the formation of blood clots in the veins of the leg. These clots can be carried to other parts of the body such as the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism, a serious and potentially lethal condition. A blood clot in the brain can trigger a stroke, which is equally threatening. Clots lodged in other areas of the body can be dangerous as well. TED socks compress the leg and promote a good flow of blood through the veins, minimizing the risk of a clot forming, and thus reducing the possibility of an embolism or stroke.

TED socks are not always the best option for patients. Doctors generally recommend compression stockings instead for patients who are mobile. Skin graft patients, as well as those with severe edema or open sores, might not be able to wear TED socks. Some vascular conditions and allergies might prevent their use as well, and it is recommended that patients seek the advice of a doctor before using any such device.

Patients who are able to wear TED socks must take care to use them properly. The patient cannot lie with legs crossed, and wrinkles and creases in the stockings must be smoothed. It is also crucial that the patient is properly measured and that the correct size stockings are fitted, because the stocking size directly affects the strength of compression to the leg.

Difficulty in putting TED socks on and taking them off has been reported by some patients. Some manufacturers have made recommendations such as using gloves for improved grip or using a tube of slick cloth called a foot slip, and instructions should be read thoroughly before using the stockings. In addition, some patients also find the devices expensive, unattractive, hot and uncomfortable, but most agree that these complaints are minimal compared to the dangers of going without treatment.

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Discussion Comments

By andee — On May 11, 2012

I have some Jobst support socks that I have been really happy with. They have many different styles of TED and compression socks.

One style that I particularly like is compression stockings that look like panty hose. I can wear these to work and it doesn't look like I have orthopedic socks on.

I sit at the computer most of the day, and it feels like my legs are getting a mini massage.

The first time I bought TED socks was at the medical supply store. I was happy to find other options that looked more like a regular sock.

They might not work as well as some of the heavy duty compression socks, but for going to work, they are the best I have found.

By golf07 — On May 10, 2012

I wore TED support socks towards the end of all of my pregnancies. My feet and ankles would be very swollen. Even though I tried to stay off my feet as much as possible, they would still have a lot of swelling.

Wearing the support socks helped with the circulation and make walking for any length of time a little bit more comfortable.

The most important thing is to find a pair that fits you correctly. Sometimes you may have to try more than one pair to get the correct fit.

That is one of the most important things, because if they don't fit right, you won't want to wear them very long.

By bagley79 — On May 09, 2012

I often wear TED stockings when I am going to be flying on an airplane, traveling in the car for long distances or doing a lot of walking.

When I leave home for an extended period of time, I always make sure I have my TED socks with me. These help with the blood flow and circulation in my legs, and I don't have as much trouble with my legs hurting when I get up and walk around.

For anyone who is on their feet for long periods of time, or is confined to a small space for any length of time, I would recommend TED socks.

By sunshined — On May 08, 2012

My mom had to wear TED socks after she was recovering from surgery. These socks are more difficult to get off and on than regular socks, but it was very important she wear them for a couple of weeks.

They are also not very attractive looking, but in this kind of situation, that is the last thing you are concerned about.

Reducing the risk of a blood clot was much more important than anything else. She was mostly confined to bed anyway, and the biggest disadvantage was how difficult they were to get on correctly.

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