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Compression Stocking Strength – Complete Guide (with Photos!)

Last Updated January 7, 2022

In this progressive world, comfort is a basic need for all types of people. To fulfill this requirement, commercial sectors are always coming up with innovative creations of comfort.

One such creation is the compression stocking. People wear these stockings for comfort in various activities including sports and also to avoid possible medical issues.

Compression socks for pilots and passengers traveling by air have become popular. Since these prevent the risk of blood clots, patients who have undergone surgery uses them. Compression stockings can reduce pain and swelling in the legs. Compression stockings are specially made, cozy, stretchy socks that gently compress the legs. The garment is the tightest on the ankle and gets less tight upwards on the legs. The gentle pressure promotes blood flow from legs to heart. This also avoids the heavy feeling in the legs.

Let’s talk compression stocking strength

Compression Stocking

Choosing the right strength of stocking

Compression stockings come in various designs, styles, and lengths to meet with the right usage. To use them, it is important to know about the type needed, and the right amount of pressure to use for comfort.

There are mainly three kinds of stockings:

  • Support pantyhose – These are the ones with the least pressure.
  • Compression socks and stockings – These are available in a wide range of pressures for various purposes.
  • Prescription compression stockings – These are the ones with the greatest pressure, usually recommended by medical consultants

The sizes of these stockings differ by brand, so it is important to take body measurements and then select the best one by checking the brand’s sizing chart.

For knee-high stockings, the circumference of the narrowest part of the ankle, the widest part of the calf, and the calf-length starting from the bottom to the knee are measured.

For thigh-high or a full-length stocking, the measurement also goes from the widest part of the thighs and the leg length from the bottom to the rare.

The ones with lower pressure levels, that are below 20 mm Hg can be purchased without any consultation. However, stockings that are tighter with pressure level above 20 mm Hg should be used after approval from a doctor.

Knee-high stocking
Waist-length tights (for athletes)
Thing high stocking

Mild (8-15 mm Hg):

For the treatment of disorders and prevention of various issues, it is important to check for the stocking that provides the best and right pressure level for compression therapy.

Guideline to understand pressure level to choose the best stocking:

  • Provides relaxation
  • During pregnancy, avoids venous troubles
  • Mainly non-medical hosieries.
  • Recommended to be worn by first-time users
  • Avoids blood clots

Medium (15-20 mm Hg):

  • Keeps the legs pain free
  • Avoids blood clots
  • Relieves from swellings
  • Avoids vein related troubles like varicose and spider veins during pregnancy
  • Compression socks for pilots and passengers on flights.

Firm (20-30 mm Hg):

  • Aids to prevent various venous diseases, like DVT.
  • Works to treat severe conditions of patients like varicose and spider veins.
  • Recommended to be used after surgery.

Extra Firm (30-40 mm Hg):

  • Prevents and relieves from severe conditions of different venous disorders.
  • Recommended for use after surgery as this prevents and treats DVT.

RX (40-50 mm Hg):

  • Prevents and relieves from severe conditions of different venous disorders.
  • Recommended for use after surgery as this prevents and treats DVT.
Gradient Compression Stockings

After checking for the suitable stocking with the right amount of pressure level, it is important to take correct measurements. Measurements should be taken before any swelling occurs on the legs for the best results. Therefore, compression stockings are usually worn early in the morning and removed at night. This ensures that the legs have been relieved from possible pains and swellings, as the blood circulation has been improved.

Method to take accurate measurements

Two important factors need to be considered to select the correct strength of the stockings. The patient or user’s APBI (Ankle Brachial Pressure index) must be bigger than the stocking to avoid excessive tightness. The stockings must have correct sizes for various groups of people.

Medical conditions that needs compression stocking

Edema Essentials

The most common causes of edema are pressure on legs, strains, infection or other medical conditions that leaks capillary fluid leading to swelling. This is when a compression stocking can be used to prevent such conditions. After consulting with a physician, the right stocking can be selected. The function of the stocking is to fix the blood circulation to avoid fluid leaks. The stocking will exert pressure on the legs so that there is no buildup of fluids.

Depending on the severity of edema, doctors might suggest a compression stocking with a pressure of mild to medium level (below 20 mm Hg).


Struggles with Chronic peripheral venous insufficiency

This occurs when deoxygenated blood cannot reach the heart properly.

Compression therapy can help to treat this disease. Doctors prescribe compression stockings of high-pressure levels with extra firmness (higher than 30 mm Hg). The blood circulation is made properly so that oxygen flow in the legs improves.

Chronic peripheral venous insufficiency

Vicious Varicose Veins

This is a very common venous disease that can occur to patients with venous issues and is treated using compression therapy rather than other types of treatments. The pressure level that is the best for use is chosen from the severity of the disorder, ranging from mild to extra firm. The stocking causes to valves to function properly ensuring correct blood flow. This helps to get rid of swells, tiredness, pain and cramps on the legs.

Varicose veins

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)-A possible threat?

This usually occurs to patients who have undergone surgery, athletes or pilots and airplane passengers. Pilots, flight attendants and passengers need to spend long hours of sitting for their selected destinations. This may sometimes be hazardous to health causing risks of developing blood clots and troubles in veins, such as edema, DVT or varicose and spider veins.

Compression socks for pilots, flight attendants and passengers can avoid these risks. This allows them to relax during long flights, diminishing pains and swellings of the legs.

The stockings worn by these groups of people are usually from mild to firm in tightness (8 mm Hg to 15 mm Hg) that remains snug on the legs.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Evolved Edema-Lymphedema:

This is a type of edema and has no right treatment, but the conditions can be reduced by compression therapy. Compression stockings of pressure level above 20 mm Hg are prescribed to improve the lymphatic damages. The legs, therefore, get to be more at ease.

If minor edema is treated at the early stages, this disorder can easily be prevented.


Panic with Phlebitis

Both inflammation and clotting occur in a vein, usually a leg vein from infection or inflammation. is most common to patients with varicose veins and from post-surgical effects.

Compression stockings of pressure level of 20 mm Hg and above can help to reduce this condition. This condition needs to be treated immediately to prevent other serious damages to the body.


Lipodermatosclerosis-hard as it sounds

A kind of skin and connective tissue disease. Common symptoms are swells, pain or skin changes.

Compression stockings of higher-pressure levels (above 20 mm Hg) can help to treat such conditions. The blood flow is improved from the tightness of the stocking to avoid an accumulation of fat. To prevent this condition, it is important to maintain proper body weight.


A gift of comfort for Pregnancy:

Leg veins are affected by swelling and pain due to hormones and the expansion of uterus during pregnancy which changes the shape of veins. To ensure the comfort of pregnant women, doctors prescribe compression stockings from 8 mm Hg to 30 mm Hg pressure levels, depending on the condition on the legs. The comfortable material with its unique function can improve the blood circulation and thus provide the comfort of the legs.

Reasons for varicose and spider veins

Right way to wear stocking

Before wearing the stocking, lotion can be applied on the skin to smoothly put it on. But the legs should be dry and clean, so it is important to allow the lotion to be fully absorbed on the skin.

In wearing the stocking, the top of it has to be rolled down toward the heel, placing the foot inside, and then the stocking has to be pulled over the leg. It should remain on the legs all day until just before bedtime.

The stocking should be flattened over the skin with no bunching. Folding the sleeves can make them tighter than they are already and cause blood circulation problems. Shoes, socks or slippers can then be worn over the stocking. While showering, they should be taken off. These actions will prevent any possible side effects of the product and ease the wear. In case of any troubles, users should consult with a doctor. The stocking should keep the user comfortable while it carries out its function.

Wearing Technique

Possible Side Effects of Compression Stocking

Since these are made tight, they can be difficult to wear. Regular checking is necessary in cases of irritation or changes in the skin. Some of the side effects might be:

  • Broken skin.
  • Irritation.
  • Discomfort.
  • Rash or changes in skin.

Final Words

Venous disorders may lead to life-threatening issues, like blood clots in the lungs. Keeping this in mind, it is always the best decision to check for any troubles occurring in the legs for those who have to remain immobile in their activities. Any signs of damages require immediate consultation with medical experts. After this, the recommended compression stocking can be bought from the local pharmacy and medical stores.


DerSarkissian, C. (2019, July 8). Compression Stockings: How to Choose and Use Them.

Frothingham, S. (2019, August 7). Compression Socks and Stockings: Benefits, Types & Side Effects.

Higuera, V. (2019, July 1). DVT Compression Stockings: Benefits, Uses, and More. Retrieved from

Kochhar, S., Haines, D., James, A., Spraggett, E., Edwards, J., & Miranda. (2015, January 19). Diagnosing lipodermatosclerosis.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) Management and Treatment. (n.d.).