Medical Compression Stockings – Complete Guide (with Pictures)

zippered pressure hoses

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What are Support Hose?

good pressure hoses

Before we can delve into medical compression stockings, you should first understand what medical stockings are. These knee-high or thigh-high socks are medical grade garments that help the movement of blood. The support provided by this legwear is divided into various levels that range from Mild (8-15 mmHg), Medium (15-20 mmHg), Firm (20-30 mmHg), and X-Firm (30-40 mmHg).

Who Should Use Support Hose?

a lady in pressure hoses

Compression stockings can provide relief for medical conditions. Medical support hose is worn by people with:

  • Mobility issues
  • Varicose veins
  • Spider Veins
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Support hose provides benefits to healthy people, as well, including:

  • Pregnant Ladies
graduated pressure hoses
  • Athletes
  • Runners, marathoners
  • Nurses
  • Post-operative patients
  • Travelers on long flights
  • Spend too much time standing at work

Your reasons for getting compression hosiery depends on your condition or symptoms. Below are some frequent symptoms that benefit from support hose therapy:

  • Pregnancy-related swelling
swollen feet during pregnancy
  • Varicose Veins
varicose veins
  • Lymphedema
how Lymphedema looks like
  • Swelling, blood clots, or pain in the lower legs known as DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)
deep vein thrombosis
  • Poor circulation from sitting for long periods
poor circulation in the limbs
  • Post-Sclerotherapy and post-surgical treatment
post surgery
what is sclerotherapy

The knee-high or thigh-high support hose comes in a variety of compression strengths (30 – 40 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg, or 15 – 20 mmHg) that keep your circulation in your legs healthy. When you stand for long periods, gravity drives fluid into the veins of your lower legs. Support hosiery applies pressure to your lower legs to prevent blood clots and promote blood flow.

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open toe design
custom made hoses

The pressure in your leg veins depends on the distance between our feet and your heart. Support hose center its pressure at the ankle and decreases as it moves up the leg, thus countering the effects of increased blood flow to your lower extremities.

Put on your knee-high or thigh-high support hose in the morning upon rising before any significant swelling can occur. Remove them at night. They prevent blood from pooling in your legs during the day and help the overall circulation and eliminate any leg swelling.

perfectly fitting compression stockings

There are many types of compression stockings available for purchase without a prescription, particularly lower compression gradients. However, when you are wearing higher graduated pressure (30 – 40 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg, or 15 – 20 mmHg) support hose, you should talk to your health care provider to find out if they are a good choice for you.

How do Support Hose Work?

how pressure hoses work
graduated pressure is most at the ankle

The support hosiery is made from different materials and serves essential purposes. While ordinary socks protect your feet, these stockings are functional. They are elastic and fit snugly around the ankle and fit more loosely around the calves.

pressure return
pressure hoses boost circulation

The pressure created by the support hose pushes the fluid up the leg and moves the blood flow to the heart. Support hose reduce pain and swelling. Compression stockings are recommended in the prevention of DVT as the pressure stops the blood from pooling and clotting.

with and without pressure hoses
with and without graduated pressure hoses

How to Use Support Hose

how to wear pressure hoses by pulling up
pull your pressure hoses up
Line art of 4 steps in putting on thigh-high compression stockings. SOURCE: Original art. Used in 90482.

Compression socks are a preventative measure, and for the best results, you need to wear them the first thing in the morning before you stand. Putting on support hose after standing and moving around can cause swelling which makes it harder to put on the socks. Bear in mind that you will need to remove the support hose before taking a shower.

If you are experiencing leg trauma or recently had surgery, then your doctor may prescribe either 30 – 40 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg, or 15 – 20 mmHg support hose during the recovery period and after a hospital stay. You can also buy this product from the Comprogear store.

super easy to put on with a doff-n-donner

Apply lotion to your skin before putting on the tight-fitting support hose to help the material glide up your leg. However, make sure the lotion is well absorbed into the skin first.

use a donner to put on pressure hoses

Putting on support hose means that you grab the top of the stocking, roll it down toward the heel, put your foot inside the sock, and slowly unroll the sock up your leg.

You continuously wear support hose throughout the day and only remove them during bedtime. It is recommended that you wear compression socks at the start of the day and remove them just before going to bed.

Types of Support Hose – Thigh High or Knee High Medical Socks

colorful compression socks

There are three primary types of knee-high or thigh-high support hosiery. These are:

  • graduated 30 – 40 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg, or 15 – 20 mmHg knee high or thigh high support hose
  • non-medical support hosiery
  • anti-embolism hose

Graduated Compression Socks

graduated pressure legwear

In graduated 30 – 40 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg, or 15 – 20 mmHg knee high or thigh high support hose, the medical level is strongest at the ankle and the pressure gradually decreases towards the top. They are designed to meet certain strength and length for mobility. They generally require professional fitting.

Support hose that ends below the knee help limits peripheral oedema or leg swelling as a result of fluid buildup.

There are variants that extend to the thigh or waist to reduce pooling of blood in legs thus preventing orthostatic hypotension. Some medical stockings suppliers offer personal preferences such as open or closed-toe and color.

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Non-medical Support stockings

less pressure hoses

These support hose do not necessarily require a prescription, but they do offer relief for aching legs.

Anti-embolism socks

anti-embolism hoses
ted hoses

Support hose help reduce the possibility of deep vein thrombosis or DVT. Just like the graduated socks, they offer gradient medical pressure but the level of compression differs. These types of supportive legwear are designed for those who are immobile.

These support garments are worn after the diagnosis of DVT to reduce discomfort and swelling. Previously the support hose used to be worn after acute DVT to negate post-thrombotic syndrome, but this is no longer the case.

Choosing the Right Knee High or Thigh High Support Hose

Choosing your medical socks can be overwhelming. There are many varieties available that vary in length, style, material, size, and medical compression level. These factors will guide you when searching for your compression socks. However, if you are wearing support hose due to a medical condition, your health care provider is your best resource to run it by.

runner wearing compression socks

You need to find the right size when selecting these socks. The following is a measurement chart to determine your size based on what kind of compression socks you desire. For example, your shoe size will greatly influence whether you select a knee sock or an over-the-knee sock. Full medical stockings are usually sized regular in department stores. The size is based on a ratio between weight and height. Others may require measurements for ankle circumference, calf-length, and calf circumference.

Size

sizing chart

Popular Sizes

  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
  • X-Large

Popular Ankle Measurements

  • 18 to 21
  • 21 to 25
  • 25 to 29
  • 29 to 33

Popular Thigh Measurements

  • 40 to 62
  • 46 to 70
  • 54 to 78
  • 60 to 81

Material

knee high pressure hoses materials

The material used to make either 30 – 40 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg, or 15 – 20 mmHg knee high or thigh high support hose will depend on the need for the compression socks. Some are made of lycra, rubber or spandex and they come in different lengths like knee, thigh or full. If your need for 30 – 40 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg, or 15 – 20 mmHg knee high or thigh high support hose is because you stand or sit for long periods, then you need to choose a sock that is comfortable for you.

Compression

pressure level chart

The level of support you need will depend on your need for 30 – 40 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg, or 15 – 20 mmHg knee high or thigh high support hose. the standard levels as mentioned include:

  • Light-moderate compression, 15 – 20 mmHg – these are perfect for travelling. If your work entails standing all day, pregnant or experiencing mild leg swelling, these types of support hose will come in handy.
  • A moderate compression, 20 – 30 mmHg – these are great for legs that experience moderate swelling and varicose veins because of pregnancy or another condition. You can also wear them when your legs feel tired and heavy.
  • Firm compression, 30 – 40 mmHg – these are usually required when you have moderate to severe varicose veins, moderate oedema, or after vein treatment such as vein stripping. They also come in handy for combating lymphedema.
  • Extra firm compression, 40 – 50 mmHg – they help with severe edema, or varicose veins, chronic venous diseases or severe post-thrombotic syndrome.
  • Heavy compression, 50 – 60 mmHg – this is the strongest standard compression level and is primarily used in relieving Post Thrombotic Syndrome and lymphedema.

Style

You should also choose a style which will fit perfectly with your attire. There are options from solid colors to various designs, depending on your desire and use.

The right level of pressure for you

  • 15-20 mmHg
  • 20-30 mmHg
  • 30-40 mmHg

Compression stockings used to be only for sick people with serious swelling or clotting issues. But this is not the case anymore- in recent years, their popularity has increased. For instance, athletes wear support hose in the hopes of increasing their performance. The needs of a runner may differ from those with a medical condition.

There are different compression levels available in the market. Different support stockings do distinctive things and here is how you can figure out what would work best for you.

Socks for athletes and runners

These types of medical stockings are common and popular for both men and women. They come in a variety of sizes, patterns, and colors. They usually have a low level of compression and would not work in medical treatment.

However many athletes like wearing them and do not cause them any harm. Studies have shown that socks improve athletic performance and recovery because they prevent blood from pooling. These types of support hose don’t require a prescription because of the low to moderate compression.

Prescription socks

There are many conditions in which doctors will prescribe medical socks due to blood circulation issues like deep vein thrombosis.

medical compression socks

Sometimes, people with DVT still have swelling, pain or other symptoms after the blood clot is gone. This is referred to as PTS (Post-thrombotic Syndrome), and people with this condition may benefit from support hose. If you need this type of support hose, you should get a prescription from your doctor.

The doctor will prescribe a specific amount of pressure called compression strength. A medical professional will measure your leg and custom fit them according to your healthcare provider’s prescription.

Medical strength is measured in mmHg (millimetres of mercury). higher pressure is denoted by a higher number. The highest is 30 – 40 mmHg, then 20 – 30 mmHg, and 15 – 20 mmHg is the lowest. The class of compression depends on your age, size and medical condition.

These support hose are classified by a roman numeral and indicate the pressure applied. The ankle pressure also indicates the grade of the socks. For example, class 1 socks will apply 20-30 mmHg pressure at the ankle while a class IV sock will apply a pressure of 50-60 mmHg.

TED Socks

There are Thrombo-embolic deterrent (TED) socks and these variants exert less pressure than most prescription socks. They are recommended for people who have just had surgery or for people who are immobile. The lower pressure helps in improving blood circulation and preventing blood clots when you are immobile. However, they do not have enough compression strength to treat problems such as DVT for anybody active.

Benefits of wearing Pressure Hose

Wearing support medical socks helps protect your feet, promote comfort, and maximize your health and blood circulation. Compression medical support socks will help in reducing discomfort and also relieve joint pains. So here are some of the benefits of using compression socks:

Do support hose reduce discomfort?

One of the benefits of wearing support medical socks is because they significantly reduce discomfort. Compression stockings particularly help joint pain. result in better circulation and also improve comfort.

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How do they help blood flow?

Support socks are beneficial to maintain ideal blood flow. this is associated with the fact that the thigh-high or knee-high support socks help in improving blood circulation. This will result in a healthy body due to better blood flow. Still, it is advisable to get an opinion from your doctor when choosing the compression strength for your socks.

How do the stockings treat varicose veins?

One of the major benefits of wearing support medical socks is treating varicose veins. A varicose vein is a condition where your veins are swollen or enlarged. At best wearing between 15-30 mmHg compression hosiery will help relieve pain and aches associated with varicose veins compared to wearing normal socks.

Treat Swelling

Graduated 30 – 40 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg, or 15 – 20 mmHg knee high or thigh high support socks can help in treating swelling as a result of pregnancy or other medical conditions.

Prevents Fatigue

Wearing 30 – 40 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg, or 15 – 20 mmHg knee high or thigh high support compression socks is a wonderful way to prevent fatigue. using the right compression will give you the best health benefit. There are five compression levels with the higher the number the greater the compression. So depending on your need, you can choose between the different compression strengths.

Prevent Edema

Wearing 30 – 40 mmHg, 20 – 30 mmHg, or 15 – 20 mmHg knee high or thigh high support compression socks can help you prevent oedema. You will need to have a higher compression level starting with 20-30 mmHg or more to gain the health benefits. This will help in also treating varicose veins, oedema and prevent post-surgical blood clots and increase blood circulation.

Side effects of using wrong Pressure Hose

effects of using compression socks incorrectly

As with everything in the world today, compression socks offer wonderful benefits. However, if you’re not careful, there can be some side effects. This may be due to ignoring several factors when choosing graduated socks. Factors such as size, material, compression strength, and style can cause various side effects.

What are the drawbacks to support hose?

When used incorrectly, compression socks will cause pain in your legs after removing them. The other side effect is suffering discomfort or having an unpleasant sensation in the legs while wearing graduated socks. This can also occur when the socks are worn for long periods of time. As a recommendation, compression socks should be worn during the day and removed before going to bed. During sleep, gravity will have the same effect on the legs as the compression stockings while awake.

Some users may develop hardened layers of skin on the foot as it tries to protect itself against pressure and friction. These are called corns and calluses. They can form on the toes or feet from very tight compression. This is why it is advisable to choose the right compression strength.

If incorrectly chosen, paresthesia will occur. this usually occurs when the compression socks are too tight for your legs. This means that poor-fitting support hose can cause numbness and feet tingling.

Another side effect of not choosing the correct compression strength is skin irritation and itching throughout the compressed area. If this occurs, your skin may be reacting from the material making the compressed socks.

Joint pain in knees

Compression hose will actually help in relieving joint pain in knees but when you wear the wrong size, you might experience pain. If this happens, make sure you contact your healthcare provider immediately.

benefits of correctly using compression socks

Loss of circulation

Higher compression strength may be counterproductive as it exerts more pressure on the foot and stops blood circulation. If you wear them correctly, then this should not be a problem but this is why we provided factors to consider when choosing compression hosiery.

Spasms and swelling in toes

If you experience violent, involuntary or sudden contractions in your toes, which is then accompanied by sudden pain then you must be using the wrong compression strength. You should ask a medical professional help you choose the right compression so as to mitigate the pain.

Tips for wearing Pressure Hose

Compression socks can be purchased online in the Comprogear store.

Taking care of support hose means washing the support hose with mild soap and air drying them for longevity.

You should also replace your compression stockings every four to six months.

Find the right size, length, color, and compression strength depending on your personal and health needs.

To summarize it all, compression socks provide many health benefits. It will protect your legs from scratches and dirt and also help in preventing blood clots and improving blood flow. It can be beneficial for travelers, nurses, athletes, and pregnant ladies.

Possible Contraindications

  1. Allergy
  1. Peripheral Arterial Bypass

Conclusion

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is conqure-the-world-with-compression-socks-1.jpg

Compression socks have been designed to apply pressure to your ankles and legs to help increase blood circulation to your lower limbs. You can purchase these types of socks over the counter but higher compression strengths need a doctor’s prescription.

If buying over the counter, make sure that you get the right fit so as to avoid some of the side effects mentioned above. Make sure that you get fitted properly, follow instructions for the proper use and monitor any skin changes so that you can adjust accordingly.

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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