Do Compression Sleeves Work?

Compression wear comes in many forms and provides great relief for many issues. The benefits of compression sleeves, in particular, work to alleviate symptoms, whether acute pain or chronic discomfort. But what do compression sleeves actually do? Let’s take a closer look.

What Are Compression Sleeves?

Compression sleeves are most commonly made from spandex, or other nylon blend fabrics. These materials slightly squeeze the muscles. The degree of pressure you feel will vary based on the sleeve material, your body shape, and your activity. Generally, compression sleeves should be snug, but not so tight that they cause pain or discomfort. When worn correctly, compression sleeves offer benefits for arms, legs, elbows, knees, calves, wrists, and ankles.

Do Compression Sleeves Work?

Before we dive into what compression sleeves do, let’s address whether they work – because it doesn’t really matter what they claim to do if there isn’t anything to support those claims. Thankfully, studies affirm the benefits of compression sleeves.

Research shows that compression sleeves help increase the blood flow to your heart and stabilize its muscles by improving oxygen delivery, helping to remove lactic acid, and limiting muscle swelling. A 2021 study published in the New Zealand Journal of Sports Medicine concluded, “Compression likely reduces muscle oscillatory properties [muscle vibration and microtrauma during physical activity] and has a positive effect on sensorimotor systems [functional joint stability].” The study’s findings also suggest potential increases in arterial blood flow.[1]

Let’s explore other benefits and uses for compression sleeves.

What Do Compression Sleeves Do?

Compression sleeves work to provide the following primary benefits:

Improves Circulation + Oxygenation

Compression clothing is typically designed to be tighter at the extremities -- such as the ankles, lower calf, or wrists – and encourages blood flow back to the heart. (This design is called “graduated” compression.) For example, ankle compression sleeves can be used to protect previously injured joints, preventing them from being re-injured. Similarly, wrist compression sleeves optimize circulation in the wrist and hands to reduce swelling and fluid build-up.

Because compression wear helps circulation, it also helps the flow of oxygen. Oxygen flow support has important implications for athletes (of all levels) because oxygen fuels muscles during exercise. Here is how it works:

  1. The heart pumps blood through the lungs, where it picks up oxygen.
  2. Oxygenated blood travels to your muscles and picks up waste lactic acid on the way.
  3. Deoxygenated blood returns to your heart.
  4. Repeat.

Since compression sleeves are typically designed to promote blood flow back to the heart, this helps send deoxygenated blood back via the veins and remove lactic acid from your muscles as quickly as possible. You can wear compression gear to help blood flow during physical activity and after to help re-oxygenate the muscles and remove waste.

Supports Joints + Muscles

Studies show significant functional improvement with compression wear. That means everyday activities become more accessible and tolerable when you wear a compression sleeve. Compression may not be able to cure an acute injury, but it can help you feel much better while you are recovering and healing. One of the main benefits of compression sleeves is the support that compression provides to an injured joint or muscle. This added comfort can help manage pain throughout your recovery and rehabilitation.

When evaluating compression sleeves, you must consider your condition and symptoms. For example, for chronic conditions like arthritis or tendonitis, consider a lower level of compression that you can wear throughout the day. This amount of compression can provide ongoing comfort without overly restricting your daily activities.

Compression Sleeves: Frequently Asked Questions

How will a compression sleeve help with knee pain?

Knee compression sleeves have been proven in many studies to be effective in managing knee pain. An analysis of patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (KOA) reported, “A statistically significant difference was found between the two compared circumstances (with and without knee sleeve) ... The elastic knee sleeve proved to be effective to immediately improve the functional capacity and pain of individuals with KOA, because it enhanced performance during the tests.”[2] Whether your knee pain is from an acute injury, athletics, or arthritis, there is evidence to support knee compression sleeves aid in pain management.

Along with pain management, studies show significant functional improvement. Patients with ongoing issues like patella pain or runner’s knee also feel better with a compression sleeve. While a compression sleeve does not correct an underlying issue, it does offer increased tolerance for the physical therapy needed to correct the problem.[3]

What do compression sleeves do for elbows and wrists?

Compression arm sleeves and wrist sleeves can help with various conditions. From tennis elbow to arthritis or just general discomfort, compression technology can help prevent painful symptoms from emerging, or manage the current symptoms you already have. A compression arm or wrist sleeve can provide additional support for your activities, while managing pain and increasing blood circulation to the problem area.

The compression provided in a wrist compression sleeve supports the intricate musculature of the wrist and hands and optimizes circulation to reduce swelling and fluid build-up. For arm pain or elbow pain, choose the appropriate arm sleeve length. For example, some arm sleeves cover the shoulder. But, if you only have elbow pain, a shorter compression arm sleeve will cover your elbow and the immediate supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments without the extra material.

Nufabrx Compression Sleeves Raise the Bar

Nufabrx has combined the benefits of compression wear with the pain-relieving properties of contact activated medicine to create HealthWear™ technology.

Benefits of Compression Sleeves with Embedded Medicine

Our combination of embedded medicine and compression works to alleviate soreness, muscle pain, and arthritis symptoms. All of our teams work together to maximize the benefits of our technology and create intelligently engineered garments infused with active ingredients to impact your daily wellness in a positive way.

Nufabrx pain relieving compression sleeves are activated by the body’s temperature and moisture. When our infused fibers make contact with your skin, the active ingredients are safely and effectively absorbed into the body, more consistently and for longer than with typical patches or creams. In addition, our advanced engineering protects the infused fibers and results in long term potency and more wear for our consumers.

What Medicines Do Pain Relieving Compression Sleeves Use?

The active ingredient infused in our pain-relieving compression sleeves is called Capsaicin (Nonivamide), a topical analgesic used to temporarily relieve minor aches and pains in joints and muscles associated with arthritis, strains, and sprains.

Capsaicin is taken from chili peppers and works mainly by reducing a pain transmitter in your nerves. Results from assessments of its role in treating osteoarthritis suggest that it can effectively reduce pain and tenderness in affected joints, with no significant safety problems.[4] (Nonivamide is an organic compound and a capsaicinoid. It is also present in chili peppers but is commonly manufactured synthetically and is more heat stable than capsaicin.[5])

Nufabrx is clinically tested, FDA compliant, and patented to safely deliver active ingredients to your body through your skin’s interaction with the fabric all day long.

Shop our complete collection of pain relieving compression sleeves today and find the relief you have been looking for.


[1] Weakley, Jonathon et al. “Putting the Squeeze on Compression Garments: Current Evidence and Recommendations for Future Research: A Systematic Scoping Review.” Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) vol. 52,5 (2022): 1141-1160. doi:10.1007/s40279-021-01604-9

[2] Bryk, Flavio Fernandes et al. “Immediate effect of the elastic knee sleeve use on individuals with osteoarthritis.” Revista brasileira de reumatologia vol. 51,5 (2011): 440-6.




Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.