Compression Stockings mmHG Chart: Your Guide (with Photos!)

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The reason and benefits of compression therapy are plentiful and they vary from person to person. This is why it is best to understand compression stockings mmHG chart. Using the wrong compression level can be detrimental. In this article, we take a look at the different compression levels and what the mmHg means.

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Compression socks are used as a preventative measure to maintain healthy legs for people who spend an extensive amount of time standing. In simple terms, when a person stands for long periods, the forces of gravity increase the pressure within the veins of the legs and the greatest effects happen at the ankle and decreases as you move up the legs and body. This pressure depends on the vertical distance of the column of the blood from foot to the heart.

This is why gradient compression socks are designed with pressure greatest at the ankles and decreasing as you move up your legs thus countering the effects of the high venous pressure. Some of the conditions which benefit from compression therapy include:

  • Lymphedema
  • Pregnancy-related swelling and vein problems
  • Poor circulation from sitting for long periods
  • Swelling, blood clots or pain in the lower legs. DVT(Deep Vein Thrombosis)
  • Post-surgical and post-sclerotherapy treatment.
  • Varicose veins

Using compression socks

Compression stockings are worn in the morning when waking up from the bed, before any swelling can occur and removed at night before jumping to bed. Throughout the day the compression therapy prevents blood from pooling in the leg veins which in turn helps the overall blood circulation and lowers the chances of any leg swelling.

So when shopping for compression socks make sure to measure your legs earlier in the day before any swelling builds in the legs. Measuring your feet later on in the day may result in you choosing socks which are too large and not effective for your therapy.

There are many different types of compression stockings available in the market and you can get these without a prescription. These socks offer a wide variety of benefits. Lower compression strengths can be bought over the counter but firmer compression levels require a prescription.

leg showing different compression zones
Various compression zones

Understanding compression stocking strength

One of the confusing aspects of choosing the right compression socks is to understand the level. Compression socks have different numbers which indicate how much pressure the garment provides to the feet. The standard compression levels for compression socks are (over the counter)15-20 mmHg, (medical class 1)20-30 mmHg, (medical class 2)30-40mmHg and (medical class 3)40-50 mmHg. There are other compression levels but these are the standardized compression strengths and are commonly used.

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What do the compression levels mean?

Compression levels are indicated with a range of numbers like 30-40 mmHg which means that the amount of pressure will not fall below 30 mmHg and will not exceed 40 mmHg. mmHg is the unit used to measure pressure and is called ‘millimeters of mercury’. this unit is also used to measure blood pressure. An important detail about compression socks is that they are graduated which means that the pressure is greatest at the ankles and gets lighter as you move up the legs.

This special design helps in blood circulation move up your leg. There would be devastating effects if graduated socks work in the opposite direction with pressure highest at the top and lower pressure at the bottom. This will hinder blood circulation. So be sure to buy compression socks from reputable brands such as Comprogear. Here are the various compression strengths explained further:

15-20 mmHg Over the counter

legs wearing compression stockings
compression stockings

A low level of compression such as 15-20 mmHg is a wonderful choice for everyday compression socks. These socks can help with mild swelling and fatigue due to standing long periods or long haul flights. 15-20 mmHg graduated socks come in various styles such as thigh-high, knee-high, and maternity pantyhose. These socks are available for both men and women plus there are different styles to choose from. These socks are casual everyday stockings made to resemble dress or casual cotton socks. There are also sheer fashion styles for women . There are also sports compression socks available at this strength level.

A lot of people choose to wear the 15-20mmHg strength level for travelling or flying as they are comfortable and there are numerous styles available. More and more people are choosing to add 15-20 mmHg compression socks to their lifestyle. They do not require any medical prescription and can be purchased at any pharmacy or online store.

20-30 mmHg Medical Grade Class 1

The 20-30 mmHg compression strength is the first compression level. It is the most used medical-grade compression socks because it provides competent compression to legs without being too strong. The 20-30 mmHg compression strength is wonderful in compression therapy treating varicose veins, travelling, sports, and certain surgeries.

compression stockings mmHG chart
Effects of compression therapy

Pregnant mothers are also finding compression stockings beneficial and are starting to wear the 20-30 mmHg to alleviate heaviness, swelling and pain in their legs. The 20-30 mmHg compression strength is also available in different styles for both genders in knee-high, thigh-high and pantyhose. Other distinct styles you can get include fashionable stockings, dress socks style, sports sock styles and opaque styles.

30-40 mmHg Medical Grade Class II

The 30-40 mmHg compression strength is a stronger medical-grade sock. It is recommended for leg health symptoms which range from moderate to severe, the 30-40 mmHg compression level is recommended when you have a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis. Those patients with lymphedema are also recommended to use the 30-40 mmHg compression strength.

When choosing the 30-40 mmHg compression level make sure to consider the fabric of the compression socks. This is because the compression stockings are providing more compression in the 30-40 mmHg compression and it is a good idea to choose a more durable material.

Medical grade class II sock is prone to snags and holes due to the pressure it asserts on the legs. Picking a stronger material will help in preventing this.

40-50 mmHg Medical Grade Class III

This is is a very strong compression level. This level of compression strength cannot be bought over the counter and needs a medical prescription and fitting. It is recommended that those considering using the 40-50 mmHg compression strength should thoroughly consult their healthcare provider about the compression stockings and their health. Medical grade class III socks are used to treat severe venous stasis, would management and lymphedema.

graduated socks
Knee length compression stockings

Recommendations

When selecting a compression strength for your hosiery either for travelling or for support while working, make sure you consult your doctor for recommendations. It all depends on your situation and a lighter compression level might be effective than a stronger compression.

There are dire consequences to wearing the wrong compression stocking which may include irritation or redness which may be brought about when your stockings are not fitting perfectly or you not putting on the socks correctly. Other side effects include you having an allergic reaction to the stocking material.

It is also important to replace your compression stocking every five or six months to assure that they maintain a proper compression level or shape. If they start to lose compression pressure, then it is time for a new pair.

Conclusion

batman meme wearing compression socks
I am strong because of compression socks

Choosing compression stockings can be difficult if you do not have a clue on what you are searching for. We have laid down the common compression strengths and levels which you can use either for traveling, support or medical therapy. Compression socks come in different styles and designs which you can purchase online or from your local pharmacy. If you have a medical condition, then your doctor is the greatest resource for compression socks. However, if you are getting compression socks for traveling or support when working then the lighter compression level stockings are perfect and you do not need any medical prescription for these.

Want to Stop Leg Swelling Now?

ComproGear Compression Socks are designed to stop swelling instantly!

Click the button below to see the lineup of ComproGear Compression Socks:



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