Compression stockings are a specialized type of hosiery used for comfort, improvement in sports, and to curb several serious medical conditions.
They are close-fitting, stretchy socks that gently apply an even amount of pressure around your leg. This pressure compresses the surface arteries, veins and muscles, forcing blood to circulate through the deeper narrow channels in the leg. By increasing arterial pressure, compression stockings cause more blood to return to your heart and less blood to pool in your lower legs and feet. If you have low blood pressure, they have been shown to ease symptoms when you are lying down or standing for long periods of time.
At Affordable Medical Supply, we offer all types of compression stockings, and believe it is important to understand them completely before you use them.
Types Of Compression Stockings
Compression socks and compression sleeves (these are just the tube, with no part covering the foot) come in various lengths as well as different pressure levels. If a doctor has prescribed compression stockings, they will generally measure your legs and tell you what type you should purchase.
Choosing the right fit for you is important if you want to ensure effective treatment while remaining comfortable.
Most compression stockings come up to just below your knee, but there are thigh-high and full-leg lengths available.
No conclusive research has shown that thigh-high stockings are more effective than knee-highs, but these may be recommended to you by your doctor if, for instance, you are more prone to blood clots.
Knee-highs are usually more comfortable because they don’t cover the knee. They also look like regular socks, which some people prefer.
Different Pressure Levels
Compression stockings come in a variety of pressure ranges, measured in mm/Hg. They are available over-the-counter in the range of 10-15 or 15-20 mm/Hg. Stockings with higher pressure require a prescription as well as a trainer fitter and can range from 20-30 to 50+ mm/Hg.
Gradient compression stockings have greater compression at the ankle, and the compression level gradually decreases up the leg. These are particularly useful for those with venous disease, edema (swelling of the legs or ankles), or those who spend long hours on their feet.
Antiembolism stockings are designed for bedridden patients and have a compression gradient. These are used to help reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
Who Uses Compression Stockings?
People make use of compression stockings for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, they are used by:
- People at risk for circulation problems, such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), varicose veins, or diabetes
- People who have recently had surgery
- People who are bedridden or struggle moving their legs
- People who spend long stretches of time on their feet
- Pregnant women
- Those who spend a lot of time on airplanes (pilots, people who travel for work, etc.)
Finding The Right Compression Stockings
It is important to find compression stockings that provide the correct amount of pressure and support without inhibiting blood flow. If your stockings are too loose, you will not receive any of the intended benefits; if you use stockings that are too tight, you may restrict blood flow and end up with serious side effects.
Some things to remember when finding the right compression stocking for you:
1. Listen To Your Doctor
If you have been prescribed a certain length, pressure, or pressure gradient, do not get anything different. If you have trouble putting them on or feel any pain, take the stockings off and contact your doctor to let them know.
2. Take Measurements In The Morning
Our feet and legs swell throughout the day due to the effects of gravity. When you are determining which size of stocking to get, you want to measure your legs (or have your legs measured) as early as possible. This ensures you don’t get a size too big and miss out on the benefits of compression stockings.
3. Compression Stockings Should Not Be Painful
They should be firm, but not constricting or difficult to remove. If wearing them causes you pain, or if they do not go on or off easily, they are probably too small, and you should remove them until you get the correct size.
4. Do Not Use Compression Stockings If…
They should not be used if you have any of the following:
- Severe arterial disease in the legs
- Congestive heart failure
- Skin infections
How To Use Compression Stockings?
Compression stockings are generally worn throughout the day and taken off before bed and when showering or bathing. You can wear socks, slippers, and shoes over them.
Since they are designed to fit your leg snugly, putting your compression stockings on can be challenging. Sometimes patients need assistance putting them on.
Make sure you put them on first thing in the morning because your legs are probably not as swollen as they will be at the end of the day. If they get stuck on the way up, try putting some talcum powder on your legs to remove excess moisture.
You want your stockings to lie completely flat against your skin, with no bunching or folding in any areas. They will cause more harm than help if they are wrinkled because the folded areas will provide too much concentrated pressure, potentially resulting in blood flow problems or cutting off your blood circulation entirely.
Compression Stockings & Medical Supplies In Broward County
If you are considering getting compression stockings or have been prescribed them by your doctor, contact Affordable Medical Supply or stop by our store to buy any length, pressure gradient, or size today. We know we’re the best choice for all your medical supply needs—our passion is putting patients first.