Posted on

Nursing Compression Socks – Complete Guide (with Pictures)

picture of nurse wearing 30mmHg blue graduated knee high compression socks to improve blood circulation

Knee high Compression socks and stockings are recommended today by a variety of physicians to edema patients, workers, nurses, travelers, and professional athletes. They help improve blood and circulation.

picture of nurse in hospital with 20mmHg graduated high knee compression socks on feet and black shoes to help improve blood circulation

This study will surely help you in understanding the role, benefits, and uses of knee high nursing compression socks for nurses. It will also describe in full detail the composition, purpose, sizes, and variants of graduated knee high clothing available in the market today.

Highlighted Benefits:

  • Prevent varicose veins
  • Reduce foot pain
  • Prevent edema
  • Increase comfort during active hours

Nursing Profession

The History

picture of a nurse shaking hand with satisfied and healed patient after using graduated knee high clothing to help improve blood circulation

Nursing is one of the most timeless and most admirable professions throughout history. Nurses throughout history have taken care of patients (men, women, children, and infants) and families.  The origin of the nursing profession is older than the 19th century. However, it was recognized worldwide through the efforts of Florence Nightingale employed in the Crimean war (fought between 1853 and 1856).

picture of Florence Nightingale treating injured soldiers of the Crimean war

Florence Nightingale was an English nurse and social reformer. She is remembered as the founder of modern nursing. She was the first one to define and organize the nursing profession with the establishment of nursing schools and providing the basic principles for nursing and healthcare. Also, She gave her Environment Theory in the book called ‘Notes on Nursing.’

Picture of Florence Nightingale in middle with other nurses of her school, nurses in white in 19th Century

Modern Nursing

picture of a nurse pushing a wheelchair with old patient sitting on it while wearing graduated knee high clothing to help improve blood circulation

What began as simple knee high clothing for helping ladies in hospitals and healthcare centers during wartimes, has now taken the shape of a highly professional and contemporary institute throughout the world. Nurses are not limited to war hospitals only and are found in every clinic, hospital, and healthcare facilities.

picture of medical staff in green uniform with stethoscope and using tablet in hand while wearing graduated knee high clothing to help improve blood circulation

Advancements in modern nursing techniques and medical sciences have improved the work conditions for nurses. The current nursing profession has also added several additional duties and tasks for nurses. This includes patient care, medicine administration, diet plan adherence, recording vital readings, and tracking the progress of recovery (from disease or accident).

illustrated picture showing a nurse in blue uniform performing different duties in hospital, patient care,  emergency room, medication, and consultation to help patients learn how thigh or knee high graduated clothing can help them

In some countries, nurses are even allowed to prescribe and administer medication after specific advanced certification. Nurses can assist the physicians by accurate reporting of vitals and change in patient’s symptoms. The global nursing community observes a strict code of ethics, competency, emotional help towards patients, and unparalleled professionalism.

picture of nurse in blue uniform with stethoscope holding hands with old patient and consoling on graduated knee high clothing and how they help improve blood circulation

Challenges in Today’s Healthcare Setup

Nursing involves joint care of patients belonging to a range of ages, communities, nationalities, and physical and mental disorders. Nurses, both males, and females have to assess the patient needs according to their respective fields, for instance, nurses working in cancer hospitals have a different scope of work as compared to the ones working in burn treatment centers.

challenges for nurses that suggest why they need to wear thigh or knee high graduated clothing to help improve blood circulation

Similarly, nurses working in emergency, trauma centers, skincare units, imaging centers, laboratories, clinics, and other health care facilities have

However, in almost all fields, nurses have to face several physical, mental, and emotional challenges. These include:

  • Long and odd working hours

    funny meme about nurse exhausted and lying on hospital emergency bed

    Most of the shifts work in shifts of up to 12 and in some cases, 18 hours long. These long shifts can have severe short and long term effects on the human body, including fatigue, stress, disturbed sleep cycle, and less social time for family and friends.

    illustrated picture showing a frustrated and tired female nurse in white uniform perfroming simultaneous duties
  • On Job Hazards

    picture showing various ways by which a medical worker is harmed by being continuously exposed to certain elements in hospital

    Nurses risk exposure to germs, harmful fluids, and other hazardous fluids (and materials) every day. Some of these can directly affect their body and health. Nurses have to deal with needles, sharp edges tools, contaminated surgical equipment, and slippery floors of the emergency corridors.

  • Staff Shortage

    funny medical meme showing boss telling workers that they are short staffed

    Hospitals and healthcare facilities face an almost constant shortage of nursing staff. This puts even more work burden on the existing nursing staff and increases their shift hours as well.

    toy story funny meme about short staffed places
  • Fatigue, overexertion

    picture of a tired nurse in blue uniform sitting with forehead on knees and face covered with hands

    Nurses can experience fatigue, tiredness, and swollen feet and ankles due to long hours of standing, sitting, and physical exertion. The fatigue can be both mental and physical. Nurses can also face soreness, swollen feet, and ankles. This common issue is the cause of pain and discomfort for nurses and other staff associated with the healthcare profession.

Why do They Face Swollen Feet

hospital corridor with various healthcare providers wearing knee high hoses
picture of a swollen feet while working

In a healthcare environment, especially in trauma and emergency units of hospitals, nurses have to face a fast pace of work. The nerve-wracking workload leaves no time to relax or sit down for a cup of coffee. Blood can easily pool down in your lower limbs due to constant standing and work routine. 

painful edema feet

When the fluids do not return to your heart correctly, and the circulation is improper, you can expect an uncomfortable and painful feeling in your legs that leads to swollen feet, ankles, and sore joints. Your shoes seem to become tighter, and your feet feel like a sack full of jelly or liquid. In the beginning, you might feel small discomfort when you switch from your work shoes to regular ones. Later as the symptoms progress, you can experience pain and difficulty in changing your footwear.

swollen feet massage by hands and pressing feet.

Nurses’ legs are subject to extreme exertion and lengthy postures. Standing in the same position for an extended time while working on a report or checking vitals, bending over to change the medical aids of a patient, and moving back and fro the emergency corridors can be abusive for your feet and ankles.

edema feet

A twelve-hour shift on your feet along the bedside of patients in need of constant care and medical aid can be a hectic and tiresome job. Nurses are also prone to dependent edema in both lower and upper extremities. Dependent edema is common in professionals with limited mobility and can also be due to some other concerning issues, including heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes, kidney diseases, and cirrhosis.

Summary

  • Fast pace working conditions
  • Extreme exertion and lengthy postures

Symptoms and Treatment

healthy foot vs edema foot

Although swollen feet are not much of a danger to your health, they can cause extreme discomfort and prevent you from moving, traveling, and get on with your day to day tasks.

comparison of two feet swollen and other being normal, puffy and reddish swollen feet

Prolonged swelling of your feet and ankles might itself be a symptom of some other underlying health issue. If you experience severe chronic swelling of feet, you might be suffering from edema. You should visit your physician for appropriate medical guidance and treatment.

picture of a pregnant woman sitting on sofa and rubbing swollen feet,

 Remember that it may not be because of your nursing work routine that is the cause of the disorder. Swollen feet can also be due to pregnancy, edema, trauma to feet or ankles, lymphatic system disorders, and medication side effects.

Symptoms of the condition include heaviness and puffiness in toes, feet, ankles, and legs. You may also feel a weight in the lower body and fluids starting to fill your feet like a sack. As time goes by, you can also feel a throbbing and visible increase in the size of your lower limbs.

picture of swollen feet showing throbbing in lower limbs which can be treated with thigh or knee high graduated clothing

 Nursing is one of those professions that are prone to swollen feet and edema. Nurses often complain about swollen feet and ankles (and even hands in some severe cases) after long or continuous shifts. Another issue with swollen legs is that it can get worse even if you sleep or rest with the onset of the symptoms.

Summary

  1. Extreme discomfort
  2. Prolonged swelling
  3. Heaviness and puffiness in toes, feet, ankles

 Some of the conventional treatments used to reduce the swollen feet and ankle include:

  • Elevation of lower body

    picture of a man with feet elevated,placed on pillows for relieving swollen feet

    Elevating the lower body is a temporary way to reduce the puffiness and swelling of the feet by draining the accumulative fluids in the feet towards the core of the body. The blood leaves the lower limbs gradually (aided with gravity), and there is a reasonable relief in soreness and pain. Nurses and other healthcare professionals can do this activity during their breaks and end of shifts to reduce the swelling.

    picture of a women lying on sofa with feet elevated to reduce swelling
  • Exercise

    picture of funny baby making shocked face, funny exercise meme with funny shocked face baby

    Aerobic exercises, walking, and stretching keeps your body in shape, and you maintain your general wellness. Exercising can especially help with edema patients by improving blood circulation through muscles and blood vessels of limbs. Nurses can choose simple regular exercises to maintain their health and avoid swollen feet and ankles. You can also adjust your exercise routine according to your shifts and take short breaks between the shifts to stretch your muscles, hamstrings, and limbs.

    illustration showing woman exercising in various ways, woman weight lifting, woman on treadmill, woman running
  • Increasing magnesium in the diet

    picture of colored pills spilled from bottles of supplements including magnesium prescribed by physician

    Magnesium deficiency is another cause of swollen feet and ankles. You can use magnesium supplements as well as natural foods with magnesium to keep your magnesium levels enough to reduce any edema symptoms. You can also request your doctor for supplements that are more suitable for your particular symptoms and nursing routine.

    illustrated picture showing various natural food items with ample amount of magnesium
  • Soaking your feet in Epsom salt

    picture of a women soaking swollen feet in tub filled with water and epsom salt

    After a long nursing shift, an easy solution to get rid of your swollen feet and ankle is soaking them in Epsom salt (in warm water). Epsom salt has high concentrations of magnesium sulfate and improves blood circulation in your feet naturally. You can use this remedy with both warm and cold water according to your preference.

  • And here comes the Best Remedy!

    picture of a pair of aesthetic black compression socks

    The easiest and one of the most effective treatments for swollen feet and ankles is the use of knee high compression socks. These stockings apply a certain amount of pressure to your feet and prevent fluid accumulation in your feet. You can buy a pair online or from your local drug store.

What Are Compression Stockings

picture of buddy the elf laughing

 The durable elastic material used to make snug-fitting knee high socks, apply a calculated amount of continuous pressure to your limbs. This pressure reduces the diameter of veins and blood vessels and in turn, increases the blood pressure through them. The increased demand doesn’t allow accumulation of blood in the feet and forces it to move back towards the heart. 

picture of a leg wearing blue compression socks to show percentage of graduated compression

Compression hosiery comes in a variety of sizes, lengths, colors, and pressure. Compression sleeves are also the same as knee high graduated socks but lack the feet part. Knee high and thigh high graduated stockings are the most commonly used ones.

picture of different types of graduated thigh or knee high compression socks for legs

There are different categories of knee high graduated socks according to the pressure they apply on the leg usually measured in mm Hg. Most of the nurses prefer socks between 20 and 30 mm Hg. The main types of these socks are graduated compression socks (designed for the clinical purpose), knee high support stockings (for non-medical purposes), and knee high anti-embolism clothing (to reduce the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis, DVT).

choosing the right graduated socks

In some cases, your physician may also advise you to wear a specific size and length of knee high graduated compression sock depending on your condition. In that case, you should strictly follow your doctor’s advice. You can use the socks most of the time and take them off only at night or when having a shower.   

Knee high compression stockings are highly effective in treating and reducing the effects of edema, venitis, thrombosis, blood clotting, varicose veins, improve lymphatic drainage, and reducing swelling of feet, ankles, and legs. Physicians recommend knee high compression socks and sleeves for mild swelling as well as chronic edema patients.

Knee Compression Socks for Nurses

picture of a women sitting outdoors wearing multicolored compression socks

The knee high compression socks are not just for the elderly, people with diabetes, and pregnant women. Compression hoses can be lifesavers for nurses. They can prevent or reduce stiffness, soreness, and swelling of your lower extremities. Compression therapy has been reported to be a useful technique against swollen feet and ankles of nurses.

illustration showing comparison of two feet to explain benefits of compression socks, increased blood flow, reduce blood clots, reduce swelling in feet.
  • Prevent Fatigue, Clotting, and Varicose

    illustration showing feet with varicose veins and feet with compression socks on, spider veins in nurse feet

    If you are a nurse, compression hosiery can be lifesavers. Knee high compression socks and knee high stockings are notable for reducing swelling, minimizing leg fatigue, and preventing soreness of feet and ankles. They can alleviate the pain and discomfort you face every day. Putting on your favorite pair of knee high compression socks every morning can prevent conditions like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), varicose (and spider) veins, lymphatic disorders, and clotting. It is hard to imagine how such a simple piece of clothing can improve your feet circulation and save you from a bad day at work.

    picture showing impact of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) on nurses feet due to excessive pressure on legs
  • Special Material Composition

    picture showing multiple compression socks with different colors and different material for nurse to wear

    The material and composition of knee high compression socks can be of importance for the nurses. Since the nature of the job requires an extra degree of cleanliness. There is no roaming for smelly knee high graduated socks carrying bacteria and other germs. The elastic material (used to apply a gradient and consistent pressure on the leg) must not capture or retain germs that may cause bad smell and can spread infections or disease. Mostly the materials used for knee high compression socks include polyester, nylon, spandex, elastic fibers, and artificial wool. 

    picture showing material types with which compression socks can be made, nylon compression socks, spandex compression socks, polyester compression socks, wool compression socks, bamboo compression socks, cotton compression socks

    Many individuals sweat a lot from their lower feet. If the graduated knee high stockings are not airy and breathable, they can result in extreme discomfort and sweating during the long shifts, and nurses usually have to endure day and night.

  • Part of the Uniform

    picture showing medical staff uniform with white lab coat, stethoscope

    Nurses’ attire (especially female nurses) is incomplete if it doesn’t include graduated knee high compression stockings. Many health care facilities have made it mandatory for all of their shift staff and nurses to wear knee high compression socks as a part of their uniform and daily work clothes.
    As a part of the uniform, mostly white-colored stockings offer a clean and sleek look for both male and female nursing staff. However, the color varies according to the dress code of the facility.

    nurse with white socks

    Patterned graduated knee high socks with colors can brighten your day and add a splash of colors to an otherwise plain and dull uniform. They can let you accessorize even when you are following a strict dress code.

  • Look stylish and feel comfortable

    Another essential part of the nursing profession is to stay fit and appear sharp. Nursing staff are a breath of fresh air for the patients that might be severely ill and are suffering from chronic diseases. Knee high compression socks complement the appearance of efficient medical personnel.

    picture of leg wearing stylish black compression socks

    These graduated knee high socks are usually pre-washed with non-hazardous fabric softeners and are comfortable for the feet. Some brands are producing their products out of natural cotton, wool, and silk that are 100 percent organic in nature.

  • Convenient Size

    The preferred Size for male nurses in knee-high, while the ladies, mostly use pantyhose or thigh-high stockings during working hours. Graduated knee high socks may not work well if your shift is longer than six hours, that’s why you need mid or high graduated knee high socks for better support.

    picture of leg showing different sizes of compression socks in mmHg

    Graduated compression works best for nurses and can improve feet circulation drastically, preventing swollen feet and ankles. The best compression size for daily wear is 15 to 20 mm Hg (mild or moderate compression). However, in case of symptoms of edema and swollen feet, 20-30 mmHg (firm compression) can also be used.

    picture of comparison chart of different sizes of compression stockings
  • Minimize Micro-tears in muscles and tissues

    picture of injured toes and sprained ankles showing inflammation and damage to muscles and tissue

    Nurses are also prone to muscular and tissue damage of legs and feet in some rare cases. Knee high compression socks can minimize the risk of such muscle and tissue damage during long shifts.

Should all Nurses Wear Graduated Support Hosiery?

Nursing as a profession can be stressful and physically tiresome on its own; you do need any additional nuisance of swollen feet and ankles. Using knee high compression socks is a natural and budget-friendly remedy to prevent all such issues.

picture showing medical utilities, two stethoscopes, a medical mask and black compression stockings of a nurse

With so many benefits and advantages of compression stocking aids, the use of knee high compression socks can bring about a healthy change in a nurse’s lifestyle. All nurses should have at least one pair of knee high compression socks or sleeves in their wardrobe that they can use whenever they feel the need to wear one.

picture of a nurse trying to wear white compression socks

However, regular use is much more useful for improved circulation and preventing swollen feet. You can also reap long term benefits by using knee high compression socks like avoiding blisters, skin cuts, and undesirable clotting on the feet.

picture of a nurse sitting in hospital wearing a pair of multicolored compression socks

Another exciting benefit of knee high compression socks is that they compensate for the overdue and sometimes lack necessary breaks during long shifts. Small breaks of 5 to 10 minute long do not seem much, but they can be a morale booster, a stress reducer, quick bathroom relief, and even a small talk opportunity with your colleague. Most importantly, these breaks can let you stretch your limbs and muscles. In short, they keep you from burning out altogether.

picture of a nurse wearing a pair of knee-high white compression socks

How to Wear Compression Socks

Although male and female nurses may choose different sizes, compression levels, and types of compression socks, the wearing method and technique are almost similar.

picture of funny proud baby meme for compression stockings

You can wear graduated knee high socks and sleeves daily at home or when leaving for the hospital or clinic for work. You can wear them while walking, sitting, and during your everyday work routine at the medical center. Compression hosiery is usually taken off during the night for sleep. You can put them back on again in the morning before leaving for work, just like ordinary socks.

picture of funny entertaining batman meme for compression stockings

If you are working on a night shift, you can wear them, but if you get a break for a nap or rest during the shift, it is best that you remove them and then go to sleep.

When you are wearing graduated knee high socks, they should smoothly conform to your body. When you are putting them on, make sure to remove any wrinkles and folds.

Here are some of the actions you might want to take care of when wearing them before leaving for the hospital:

picture of different kinds of compression stockings for arms and feet
  1. Try to wear them before you wear the bottom of your uniform or attire.
  2. Do not fold the graduated knee high socks from the top or the bottom.
  3. Please Do not use any Vaseline or similar product before putting them on as they can damage the graduated knee high sock material.
  4. Do not try to tug the graduated knee high sock from edges when putting them on, instead roll it smoothly.
  5.  Make sure there is a space equal to the width of two fingers below the knee and groin line and the top of the sock (depending on the type of hose you are wearing knee-high or thigh-high)

Conclusion

compression stockings funny meme, black guy stopping meme, stop painful swelling in nurse feet meme.

Knee high compression socks and clinically proven to relieve swollen feet, reduce pain, and soreness among healthcare professionals. They are also known to improve blood circulation as well as the general well being of the wearer. Nurses face physical and mental challenges every day and night during their shifts and are prone to swollen feet and ankles. Knee high compression socks are a convenient and effective remedy for them to ease their way through long and tiresome shift duties.

Posted on

Best Compression Socks for Nurses

Many professions require workers to be on their feet for long periods of time, not the least of which is nursing. Standing and walking for hours on end–sometimes up to 12 hours or more without any real time to take a rest–can leave your legs and feet exhausted and swollen. Not only that, but nurses who spend long hours on their feet can find that their circulation is inhibited because gravity is working against them. This type of strain put on the legs can result in the pain and discomfort associated with varicose veins and spider veins.

Fortunately, the use of compression socks can bring some relief from pain, soreness and the risk of varicose veins associated with nursing. Wearing compression socks can prevent blood pooling and encourages proper circulation around the feet, and it may also reduce swelling in the ankle area.

As a nurse, you’ll certainly want to shop for the best socks that can bring maximum relief from the issues likely brought about by standing. Before buying, you need to know about the best compression socks for nurses and others who are on their feet for many hours each day.

What Are Compression Socks?

Before getting started talking about the best compression socks, we’ll first need to have a basic understanding of what compression socks are and how they should be used.

Compression socks are specially made stockings that stretch and fit snugly around the feet and legs. They may stop just below the knee or they may go up to the thigh. Originally, compression socks were only manufactured in basic colors such as white or black, but recently they’ve begun to come in all sorts of fun and fancy colors and styles to meet your personal preferences.

Graduated compression socks put the greatest amount of compression around the ankle but and then get a bit looser as they move up the leg. When such pressure is put on the legs it helps with blood circulation and prevents the swelling that can come from fluid pooling around the ankles (due to the pull of gravity). Compression socks help the circulatory system to fight against gravity to get the blood back up to the heart, which helps to avoid blood clots and other issues such as varicose veins. They work preventatively to keep some of these medical issues at bay, as well as therapeutically to reduce pain and discomfort.

What Are Compression Socks Used For?

Compression socks are used for a variety of conditions, including:

Why Do Nurses and Health Professionals Prefer Compression Socks?

Compression socks are used by nurses, people from other professions who are often on their feet, as well as people with various health issues that the socks can help with.

When people stand still for long periods of time, the forces of gravity increases the pressure placed on the veins of the legs. The blood easily flows down from the heart into the body through the arteries but, as it attempts to move back up to the heart through the veins, gravity tends to create restrictions and difficulty. This causes the veins to be under too much pressure which can eventually lead to compromised stability, resulting in varicose veins and spider veins. Wearing compression stockings aids the veins by giving them extra stability which can reduce pain and discomfort as well as preventing future occurrences of varicose veins.

In addition, people who don’t have a chance to elevate their feet throughout the day to ward off the effects of gravity may find that their ankles and feet tend to swell. This pooling of fluids in the feet can sometimes be mitigated through the use of compression socks that keep the swelling down.

Here is a list of people who are advised to use compression socks regularly:

  • People with limited circulation, blood pressure problems, varicose veins, DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), diabetes and many more are recommended the use of these compression socks by the medical community.
  • Post-surgery patients may be prescribed the use of compression socks in order to speed recovery and prevent the formation of blood clots in patients who are immobile.
  • People who are bedridden for various reasons (pregnancy, stroke, etc.) may need to wear compression socks in order to help with circulation and prevent blood clots. These patients use a special Anti-Embolism or T.E.D. Stocking.
  • Those who have difficulty with dizziness upon standing up can wear compression socks to promote healthy circulation and relieve the distress of dizziness.
  • When your profession requires you to stand for long hours, it is advisable to use compression socks. 
  • Sitting for long hours in one position can be part of some professions like pilots, those with desk jobs, etc. Wearing compression socks can help with better blood circulation and prevent some major health issues.
  • Athletes who are prone to use their feet more or get swelling on their legs often can also use compression socks to get some relief.
  • Pregnant women may find the use of compression socks helpful in reducing leg pain and preventing blood clots.

What Are the Features of Compression Socks?

Compression socks come with a number of features that allow the person wearing them to experience therapeutic benefits as well as preventative care. Consider the following criteria when purchasing compression socks.

Things to note before buying a pair of compression socks:

  • The material used to make the socks needs to be durable and strong (look for nylon, polyester, and spandex).
  • Socks should be made from materials that are breathable as well as stretchable. 
  • The compression socks need to offer pressure on the legs consistently without making the wearer feel uncomfortable. 
  • These socks should be available in different sizes and not follow the policy of one size fits all. 
  • Graduated compression that forces blood and fluid up from the ankle to the calf or thigh.
  • An added advantage would be vibrant colors and patterns for a fun flair.

Materials such as elastane (Spandex), nylon, polyester, merino wool, LYCRA, and others are all soft and offer comfort when used to make the compression socks. Apart from that, they do a great job of providing graduated compression which is the much-needed feature in these types of socks. 

When compression socks have these features, you can be sure that they will offer the comfort and relief that you wish to have when wearing them. 

What Are the Benefits of Using Compression Socks?

When you understand what compression socks can do, you can certainly see the ways you might benefit from adding them to your life! Here are some of the main benefits found by nurses and others who use compression socks:

  • With the use of compression socks, the feet will not get tired as easily, even if you stand for a long time. 
  • Your legs may feel less achy when you are on your feet for long hours at a time.
  • The swelling in the legs, both feet and ankles, may be minimized with the use of compression socks as they help your body to fight against the effects of gravity.
  • Compression socks can bring major relief to people suffering from varicose veins and spider veins, reducing pain and discomfort as well as preventing the formation of others.
  • Wearing compression socks may prevent some people from feeling dizzy and light-headed when they stand up.
  • The use of compression socks may prevent the development of blood clots by helping the blood circulate properly and not letting it pool in one spot.

How to Select the Best Compression Socks Brand for Nurses

Selecting the appropriate compression socks can be a little tricky because there are a number of factors to consider. Quality and cost are the two major features that you may need to know about as you look into your compression socks brand.

Some brands do make quality goods but they come at a high cost. Some sell at a low cost but maybe are just cheap imitations and will not last long. So, find an in-between path where you get quality in a cost-effective manner. Buying online can be a great way to find affordable compression socks that are made in a quality manner.

Compression socks are available from a variety of manufacturers in different brants. Some are well-known and others may be new to the market. Well-known brands often cost more, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are better. Look for a brand that offers quality materials, top construction and a good value. Also, be wary of fly-by-night companies that make promises of miracles that aren’t realistic (such as One-Size-Fits-All).

Different Kinds of Compression Socks

Compression socks come in different sizes and types, each of which is made for different uses. If you’re under the care of a doctor, they can help you understand exactly what you need in the way of compression socks. A pharmacist is also a helpful resource in discovering what pressure and size of compression socks you might need.

Compression socks range from 8mmHg up to 40mmHg or even 50mmHg in some extreme cases. The measurement “mmHg” means Millimeters of Mercury and is the same measurement used in blood pressure cuffs.

If you’re simply using compression socks for daily use to help when you’re on your feet for long hours, your pharmacist might recommend using compression socks that come in the 20-30mmHg range. This is a mid-range sock that offers the greatest pressure (30mmHg) at the ankle and then lesser pressure (20mmHg) at the calf. This pressure typically works well for those trying to reduce fatigue, minimize swelling and prevent the risk of varicose veins and spider veins.

The best compression socks for nurses typically stop just below the knee as this provides them with snug support but doesn’t lend to being hot or uncomfortable. However, compression socks are also available in a thigh-high or even pantyhose variety for those who prefer those options.

The only way to get the maximum possible benefit from compression socks is wearing the right style, pressure type and size. If the pressure is too low or too high, or the size isn’t right, then you’ll not receive the health benefits you want and need from your compression socks.

Which Compression Level is Right for You?

Compression stockings are medical-grade devices designed to move blood flow and, because of this, it is important that they are worn in the right size and with the correct pressure.

Support compression stockings are made available in multiple compression support levels. Most commonly, compression support stockings come in mild (8-15 mmHg), Medium (15-20 mmHg), Firm (20-30 mmHg), X-Firm (30-40 mmHg) gradient compression levels.

For nurses and others who are on their feet for a lot of time, the Firm pressure of 20-30 mmHg is often recommended by pharmacists and doctors to provide support. However, it is always helpful to check with your doctor or another medical professional to find out which pressure might be right for you.

There are many types of compression socks and stockings available without a prescription and they do offer wide-ranging benefits. Before wearing a compression therapy of 20 mmHg (Firm Compression) and above, it is generally recommended to consult your health care provider to find out if graduated compression stockings are right for you. If the answer is yes, they can tell you what pressure grade you should buy for maximum benefit and relief.

Measuring For and Wearing Compression Socks

When trying to determine the size of compression socks or stockings you need, it is best to measure early in the day before swelling builds in the legs. Measurements taken later in the day after swelling occurs may cause you to choose an item that is too large and then not effective. When measuring, be sure to use the tape measure around the largest part of the ankle, the largest part of the calf, and from the lower part of the back of the knee down to the floor. Getting someone else to help you measure may be useful.

As a side note, if you’re thinking about compression socks that claim “one size fits all”, then you may want to think again. Although buying them might be less complicated because no measurements are required, it is important to understand that they simply cannot work as well as compression socks that are fitted to your personal size.

Compression therapy products are put on in the morning before getting out of bed, which is typically before any significant swelling could occur. They’re then removed at night before getting into bed. Throughout the day the compression prevents blood from pooling in leg veins, prevents the development of varicose veins, helps your overall circulation and lessens or eliminates any leg swelling you may have.

How to Wash Compression Stockings

Knowing the correct method to keep your compression socks clean will allow you to use them for a long as possible. Compression socks should be washed after each use in order to return the elasticity to its most effective level. Since you need to wash them between wearing, you’ll likely want to have at least a couple of pairs on hand so that you can rotate them while the others are waiting to dry. When well cared for, a quality pair of compression socks can last several months.

Wash according to manufacturer’s instructions, which usually entails hand washing and hanging or laying flat to dry. Machine washing can cause stretching while tumble drying may contribute to shrinking. When washing, use warm water and a mild soap that is meant for delicates. Be sure to wash gently and avoid wringing or stretching as this can compromise the effectiveness of the socks.

As a nurse or other person who is on your feet all the time, you certainly have the potential to benefit from the use of therapeutic compression socks. They can reduce swelling in the ankles, minimize fatigue in the legs, relieve symptoms of varicose veins and generally provide you with a better experience while you’re on your feet. And when you feel better, you can take more care to help your patients feel better too!