Compression stockings can be worn for comfort and to lower your risk of developing or soothing existing circulatory issues, such as deep vein thrombosis and varicose veins. They can also help reduce leg pain, aching, and swelling by improving blood circulation.
Continue reading to find out more!
What are Compression Stockings?
Compression stockings are elastic, snug-fitting garments that are specially made to help prevent or treat circulation issues. They are made of elastic fibers, such as polyester and nylon, and come in various compression levels.
What are the Benefits of Wearing Compression Stockings?
Compression stockings are known to help prevent and treat a number of health conditions related to blood flow problems, as well as promote good leg health. That said, below are some of the key benefits of wearing compression stockings.
1. Improve leg circulation and reduce swelling
The calves, ankles or feet can swell if you stand or sit for many hours, but this can be prevented by wearing compression stockings. They help promote blood circulation thereby preventing leg swelling, aching, and tiredness. This is why they are a good option for pilots, nurses, surgeons, and basically anyone whose work involves standing or sitting for many hours at a time.
2. Reduce the risk of developing venous ulcers
Venous ulcers are chronic sores that develop on the lower part of the leg near the ankle area. This is as a result of a blood flow problem that causes blood to pool in the veins of the legs instead of flowing to the heart. This poor circulation damages the leg valves causing an ulcer to form.
When this occurs, the person may experience a number of symptoms including pain and leg swelling. If the condition is left untreated for a long time, it can cause further health complications.
Usually, leg ulcers are treated using compression therapy, which involves wearing compression stockings. The stockings not only help treat the condition, but they also help prevent the recurrence of the condition. They can also help prevent the formation of leg ulcers which occurs in older people and people with certain health conditions.
3. Help prevent deep vein thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis is a condition whereby a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the legs. This can be due to health issues and can also occur in people who are chronic smokers or obese. Symptoms associated with the condition include pain and swelling, however in some cases, these symptoms may not occur.
Deep vein thrombosis can be treated using compression stockings, which help improve blood circulation and reduce swelling. They are also recommended to people who are at risk of developing this condition.
4. Aid in relieving symptoms associated with varicose veins
Compression stockings are often recommended to people who have varicose veins to help relieve symptoms associated with the condition. Some of the symptoms include pain, swelling, aching, and cramping.
The symptoms occur due to poor blood circulation around the ankle area. When you wear compression stockings, they exert pressure on your legs and ankles causing the blood to flow normally instead of pooling on the lower part of your leg.
5. Lowers orthostatic hypotension
Orthostatic hypotension or low blood pressure is when your blood pressure suddenly drops. When this happens, particularly when you rise to your feet too quickly, you may feel lightheaded, dizzy, nauseous, and weak. There are numerous causes of low blood pressure, some including anemia, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, dehydration, and heart problems.
To reduce the incidences of orthostatic hypotension, your doctor may recommend compression stockings due to their ability to exert pressure on your legs improving blood flow.
What Compression Levels are Available?
There are various compression levels, in which its pressure is measured in ‘millimeters of mercury’ (mmHg), to address different needs.
The higher the compression level, the greater the pressure applied.
1. Mild (8-15 mmHg)
- Mild level compression stockings that can be bought without a prescription.
- Helps minimize leg aches and provide relief from tiredness.
- Also helps energize legs and prevent the development of varicose veins in pregnant women.
2. Medium (15-20 mmHg)
- Medium level compression stockings that may be prescribed by a doctor.
- Usually prescribed to people and pregnant women who have swollen and achy legs.
- Help to prevent venous disorders such as deep vein thrombosis.
3. Firm (20-30 mmHg)
- Firm level compression stockings that require a doctor’s prescription.
- Usually prescribed to people who already suffer from a venous disorder like deep vein thrombosis, edema, and varicose veins.
4. Extra-firm (30-40 mmHg)
- Extra-firm compression stockings that require a doctor’s prescription and should only be worn under a doctor’s prescription.
- Meant for people with severe cases of varicose veins, lymphedema, and edema.
- Help relieve symptoms associated with postural hypotension and orthostatic hypotension.
What are the Different Types of Compression Stockings?
1. Graduated Compression Stockings
These stockings exert a high degree of pressure around the ankle area and gradually reduce upwards. This is to prevent a backward flow of blood to the feet. Physicians often prescribe them to people who have chronic edema and severe venous disease or people who have recently undergone surgery.
2. Anti-Embolism Stockings
These work in the same way as graduated compression stockings but instead are used for people who are bedridden, cannot walk, have restricted movement and as a preventive measure for people who are at risk of developing venous disorders like deep vein thrombosis.
3. Non-Medical Support Hosiery
These are non-prescription compression stockings which can be bought over the counter to relieve aching, tired and/or swollen legs. But, unlike graduated compression stockings, these ones usually exert much less pressure and have uniform pressure.
Who Should Wear Compression Stockings?
If compression stockings require a doctor’s prescription, only wear them once your doctor has assessed and cleared you to wear them, otherwise you may increase your risk of developing other complications or exacerbating any existing conditions.
Compression stockings are designed for:
- People with venous disorders such as varicose veins, edema, deep vein thrombosis, and phlebitis,
- Pregnant women,
- People with heavy legs (stiff or tired legs that are difficult to move),
- People who have undergone surgery,
- People who spend long hours standing or sitting,
- Healthy individuals who would like to maintain good circulation.
Although compression stockings are beneficial, they are not ideal for:
- People with thin, delicate skin,
- Malnourished patients,
- People who are allergic to fabrics used in compression stockings,
- People who have health conditions such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, Ischaemia, and peripheral neuropathy.
How do You Wear Compression Stockings?
When wearing compression stockings, smooth them out and avoid folding the tops down to prevent them from becoming too tight as this may restrict blood flow.
They are various styles of compression stockings, including knee-high, thigh-high, closed-toe, pantyhose, and waist attachment compression stockings. Whichever style you choose or your doctor recommends depends on your condition and its severity.
How long they are worn for depends on the reason why you need to wear them in the first place:
- If it is to prevent swelling owing to standing or sitting for many hours, you may wear them when you are standing or sitting.
- If it is to help relieve symptoms associated with blood flow problems, talk to your doctor about how long and how often you have to wear them.
How do You Choose Compression Stockings?
This depends on a number of factors: do you need them for work? Or are you at high risk of developing a venous disease? Or do you have a condition that requires you to wear compression stockings as part of the treatment?
Several things to consider are listed below:
- Compression stockings come in varying lengths, sizes, designs, material compositions and degrees of compression. Determine what your preferences and needs are based on these factors.
- Some can be bought over the counter, but others require a doctor’s prescription. Compression stockings prescribed by a doctor are used to help prevent or treat health conditions or symptoms associated with blood flow problems.
- Consult with a medical professional to determine which type of compression stockings is suited for you.
Where do You Get Compression Stockings?
At ComproGear.com, we sell knee-high 20-30 mmHg compression stockings, which are ideal for treating edema, spider veins, and varicose veins. You can also use them after surgery to help you from developing a venous disorder. Purchase a pair at ComproGear today!
This page last updated May 16, 2022