Compression stockings are becoming more popular than ever among athletes, recovering patients, pregnant women, and professionals with taxing jobs. However, what makes these garments so effective, and can they benefit the average everyday person?
Compression stockings are special or custom stockings that help improve circulation in the legs. They help alleviate pain and other symptoms of conditions such as varicose veins. They work by applying slight pressure on your legs to help blood flow back to the heart.
Due to their benefits, compression stockings are becoming more popular by the day. However, what do you need to know about them before deciding on buying a pair? Read on until the end of this article to learn more about these stockings, their benefits, how to wear them, where to get them, etc.
What Are Compression Stockings?
You might be familiar with stockings already – long, snug, and elastic garments that cover one’s legs. Compression stockings are stockings with a particular medical purpose.
Compression stockings are intended to improve circulation or blood flow. They are specially-made, well-fitted garments that put gentle pressure on the legs to allow blood to flow back to the heart. They come in various types, compression levels, lengths, and colors.
Compression stockings are a practical application of compression therapy. This physical therapy deals with different health conditions such as varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis. However, you can still benefit from their wear even if you’re perfectly healthy. Many athletes, working people, and pregnant women also wear them.
You may find these garments referred to in several other terms, including compression hose, pressure stockings, support stockings, gradient stockings, etc.
What Are the Different Types of Compression Stockings?
As I briefly mentioned, compression stockings come in various forms, shapes, compression levels, and lengths. In this section, I’ll break down the features that make each of these variations unique.
The different types of compression stockings include graduated compression stockings, anti-embolism stockings, and non-medical support hosiery. These variations differ in purpose and function. The stockings’ lengths, colors, and compression levels also vary.
For instance, graduated compression provides gradient pressure for moving people, while anti-embolism is designed to help those who are bedridden or recovering from surgery.
Types Based on Function
Compression stockings can be specialized for specific functions, which is why you may need a specialist’s opinion before you can get one fitted. Here are some of the most common types of compression stockings:
Graduated Compression Stockings
These kinds of stockings apply a gradient pressure on the legs. More significant pressure is exerted around the ankles, and less as the stockings go up the legs. This prevents blood from accumulating in the ankles (where it can be prone to pooling) and allows it to flow back to the heart. These can be used by people who can move and may treat chronic venous disease and edema.
Bedridden individuals or people recovering from surgery through bed rest are the best candidates for anti-embolism stockings. These reduce the chances of suffering from a deep vein thrombosis or blood clots. They also apply gradient pressure, but they do so at different levels than graduated compression stockings.
Non-Medical Support Hosiery
As the name implies, non-medical support hosiery is not intended to treat or prevent diseases, unlike the previous variations. Prescription also is not essential when getting a pair. These are designed to alleviate aches and apply less pressure than the other types. Examples include support hoses and flight socks.
Types Based on Length
Compression stockings are manufactured in varying lengths. Depending on your preferences or your doctor’s prescription, you can choose between knee-high and thigh-high varieties. Waist-high stockings are also an option.
Types Based on Compression
Compression stockings can exert varying levels of pressure. Most non-prescription, over-the-counter stockings apply only mild pressure while prescription ones exert firm pressure. The amount of pressure you’ll require may be advised by your doctor.
Graduated compression stockings are also classified based on the level of pressure applied at the ankles, which is where pressure is greatest for these garments. Low compression or class 1 stockings have a pressure of 20 mmHg or less, medium or class 2 have 20 to 30 mmHg, while high or class 3 have more than 30 mmHg.
Who Should Wear Compression Stockings?
Even though most people can wear compression stockings (at least the non-prescriptive type) if they want better circulation, some specific individuals would benefit from them more than others.
People who should wear compression stockings are those with circulatory conditions, like varicose veins. Bedridden patients, those recovering from surgery, pregnant women, and those who sit or stand for long periods at work, like pilots or retail workers, may also benefit from their wear.
Although there are few studies to confirm the efficacy of compression stockings on improving physical performance, athletes also wear them as performance enhancers.
Who Should Not Wear Compression Stockings?
While nearly everyone can wear compression stockings, some may find certain conditions worsen by using them.
People with or suspected to have arterial diseases should not wear compression stockings. Individuals with sensory impairment, allergies to the material, edema, tissue condition, or leg deformity are also advised against it. Wearing compression stockings may lead to discomfort.
Therefore, if you happen to have any of these conditions, it is best to consult a doctor if you plan to wear compression stockings. Some complications that result from wearing these stockings include worsened ischemia for those with arterial flow problems or skin problems for those with allergies.
Do You Need a Prescription To Wear Compression Stockings?
This article may already have given the idea that compression stockings can be either prescriptive or not.
Depending on the variety you choose, you may need a prescription to wear compression stockings. There are some compression stockings that do not need a prescription to be worn or bought and can be purchased from drug stores. However, those used to treat conditions require a prescription.
If you’ve consulted your doctor regarding your compression stockings, following their prescription and specific recommendations, such as a certain pressure level, is best. Nurses or other personnel may also be equipped to advise you on the pair that will best suit your needs.
It may also be possible for insurance to cover the cost if you have a prescription. However, you may want to consult your insurance company first to check if that is the case.
What Are the Benefits of Wearing Compression Stockings?
You might be worried that wearing compression stockings would cut off your circulation or harm your limbs. It would not, especially as long as the garment is fitted and worn correctly. Great compression stockings provide various benefits for their wearers, especially for those with circulatory problems.
The primary benefit of compression stockings is that it improves circulation. This then helps alleviate symptoms of chronic venous diseases and prevent or ease swelling in the legs. The garment can reduce the chances of blood clots while also relieving leg aches or pains.
Circulation is crucial for our organism’s operations as it helps bring oxygenated blood to different parts of our body. For that to happen, deoxygenated blood must first return to the heart. It can be harder for blood from the legs to come back up due to gravity, and malfunctioned valves may worsen the situation.
Graduated compression stockings apply a pressure gradient that helps ensure blood travels back up to the heart without backflow or reflux. As the stockings squeeze against your leg and put pressure, they decrease the diameter of your significant veins, allowing for faster blood flow. As a result, circulation is enhanced, which helps improve many conditions.
Help Ease Symptoms of Chronic Venous Diseases
Some chronic venous diseases may manifest as leg pain, itchiness, edema, etc. Varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency are examples of these diseases. Venous insufficiency is a condition wherein the valves in the veins do not function properly, leading to blood retention.
Many studies find that compression stockings help alleviate symptoms of individuals with chronic venous diseases. However, they are not a cure.
Help Alleviate Pain and Prevent Swelling
The prevention and alleviation of swelling in the legs is a byproduct of the improved circulation brought about by wearing compression stockings. Since the blood can flow back better to the heart, it has fewer chances of leaking or flowing backward.
Furthermore, compression stockings are also used to treat lymphedema, which causes fluid buildup and leads to swelling. However, this type of treatment is applied in the second phase of the medication process to help maintain the reduction of swelling.
Help Reduce the Risk of Blood Clots
Clots may happen if blood backflows and pools around some regions of the legs. This can happen to people who often sit too long, like pilots or mall cashiers. Blood cannot circulate well due to the lack of mobility and will accumulate or clot.
With compression stockings, the chances of this happening are reduced, as there is better blood movement, preventing it from pooling and clotting. Anti-embolism stockings are specifically designed for this purpose.
How Often Should You Wear Compression Stockings?
It can also be essential to know the proper duration for wearing compression stockings. Adverse effects may occur if worn for too long; therefore, you must be careful not to overwear these garments.
You should wear compression stockings as often as your doctor advises you to. These stockings are often worn during the daytime when people have to sit and stand for long periods. It is also recommended to wear them in the morning.
A doctor may also suggest wearing them at night if you have varicose veins. Therefore, always consult with a medical professional first to learn more about the optimal duration and time frame.
Where Can You Get Compression Stockings?
You can get compression stockings in most drug stores, pharmacies, or medical supplies shops. You can also ask your doctor where you can get them. Present your prescription if you have one, and get the correct measurements.
Many non-prescription stockings are available; however, their pressure levels are mild or low. Prescriptions may be necessary to get a variety that exerts higher pressure.
Tips for Using Compression Stockings
Compression stockings have to be appropriately used to be effective and beneficial. Therefore, I’ve also compiled a list of tips you’ll want to keep in mind when using them:
- Inform your doctor of any discomfort or adverse reactions. Improper measurements may cause pain. It is essential to find stockings with correct measurements, so if you don’t think yours fit, consult with a doctor to get a better pair. It is also possible to get allergic reactions to the material; therefore, note and observe any adverse reactions.
- Do not bunch or fold the stockings. Bunching or folding can make them too tight, which can impact circulation. Always smooth them out before wearing them.
- Please wait for the lotion to absorb before wearing them.
- Wash your stockings every day and keep a spare pair. It is recommended to have another pair so you’ll have one to wear while laundering the other.
- Get a new pair every three to six months.
- Hand-wash your stockings instead of using a washing machine. It is also recommended to use cold or mild water with soap or mild detergent. Avoid fabric softeners and dryers.
While compression stockings are best suited for individuals with chronic venous problems, jobs that keep them sitting or standing up for too long, and pregnant women, they can also benefit everyday people of all backgrounds. They help improve circulation and prevent swelling, aches, pains, and other conditions. It is best to consult your doctor when planning to use them.
Allied USA Offers Different Kinds of Compression Stockings
Luckily, you do not need to look further to find excellent-quality compression stockings! We’re a company providing premium-grade medical supplies, including compression stockings. You can even get them through our online shop.
- Allied USA Shop: Homepage
- Allied USA Shop: STOCKING, COMPRESSION BEI TALL
- Allied USA Shop: Compression Stocking JOBST® Ultrasheer Knee High Medium Black Closed Toe
- National Library of Medicine: Graduated compression stockings
- Healthline: The Benefits of Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins
- Medical News Today: Do compression stockings help to treat varicose veins?
- Cleveland Clinic: What You Should Know About Compression Socks
- Healthline: What to Know About Compression Socks and Stockings
- MedlinePlus: Compression stockings
- WebMD: How to Choose and Use Compression Stockings
- NHS UK: How long should I wear compression stockings to improve my circulation?