Disclaimer: Medical compression stockings or socks are well-being products and must be worn under the supervision of a healthcare professional. It is highly recommended to consult a medical professional for specific advice as per your medical condition, severity, your medical history and requirement.
For people suffering from blood circulation related health problems like Varicose Veins, Diabetes and blood clotting, compression socks are the other name for ultimate comfort. Compression stockings are known to improve blood circulation in the veins to help prevent blood clots, pain in the legs and swelling.
Who Can Use Compression Stockings
People with the following conditions can use compression stockings:
- People suffering from Varicose veins diabetes and other medical issues related to blood circulation.
- People who need help moving their legs.
- People who need to stand for longer intervals of time during the day.
- Pregnant women.
- Athletes and sports persons.
- People traveling by air for prolonged durations.
Apart from these, sometimes physicians may prescribe the use of compression socks to people who have undergone surgery recently.
Choosing the Right Compression Stockings
When it is about choosing compression stockings, there is no ‘one size fits all’. These are chosen on the basis of the strength of compression, length, size and color. For those who have been prescribed the use of these socks, it is suggested to use them during the whole day. You can even wear them at night if you feel comfortable or take them off and wear them in the morning. Like your usual pair of socks, the compression socks are specially made using a stretchy material that snuggly fits your legs.
Before you choose a pair of compression socks for you, it is important to explore the different types in which these socks are available. We have got some useful information for you regarding different types of compression stockings:
- Graduated Compression Stockings: Graduated compression stockings are designed in such a way that the highest pressure is exerted at the ankle which gradually decreases moving towards the knee. It is most commonly used by people with medical issues like swelling and blood clotting. These are very comfortable and regulate the blood flow from the lower legs toward the heart.
- Knee-High Compression Socks: Knee-high compression stockings have a good length covering up to just below the knee. Physicians prescribe these to people having issues in moving on their own and pain in calves as they provide compression to the lower leg and calf muscles.
- Thigh-High Compression Stockings: Those who are looking for longer stockings can opt for thigh-high compression stockings. These have an extended length of up to the thigh and cover the body from the thigh to the foot. Thus, compression is provided to the entire leg including the lower leg, calf and thigh. Providing great compression to the entire leg, thigh-high stockings are highly recommended by medical professionals for individuals facing serious venous issues.
- Pantyhose Compression Stockings: Pantyhose compression stockings are the longest stockings that reach up to the waist and hips to cover the entire leg. These tigts can be opted by users who need thorough compression in the lower portion of their body including the abdomen and the lower back area.
- Maternity Compression Stockings: While maternity and comfort may sound like antonyms, compression stockings can make things a little better for the expecting mothers. Maternity compression socks are specially designed to provide comfort to pregnant women and to avoid issues like swelling, pain and discomfort in legs due to increasing weight. These also reduce the risk of Varicose Veins in expecting mothers. The special feature of these maternity socks is the flexible belly panel that provides support to the belly area as these can expand to accommodate the growing size.
- Anti-Embolism Stockings: Thromboembolism refers to a condition in which blood clots are formed (thrombus) that can drift with the bloodstream to reach different parts of the body including legs, lungs and brain and may cause blockage in blood vessels. This condition is known as an embolism. Also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) when it occurs in legs or pelvis and can potentially cause issues like immobility and obesity. Anti-Embolism Stockings can greatly help prevent such conditions by improving blood circulation as these have a specific pressure gradient that eases the symptoms.
Compression Levels in Compression Stockings
Compression level is one of the deciding factors that helps the users choose the most suitable and effective stockings for themselves. The compression level or pressure of these stockings is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). One can either try using these socks for a few days or get a medical recommendation from their physician.
These are generally available in the following compression levels:
- Mild compression (8-15 mmHg)
- Moderate compression (15-20 mmHg)
- Firm compression (20-30 mmHg)
- Extra firm compression (30-40 mmHg or higher up to 50 mmHg)
Generally, 15-20 mmhg compression socks are low compression socks. 20-30 mmhg compression socks are medium compression and 30-40 mmhg or 50 mmHg socks are high compression ones.
Using Compression Stockings without Medical Recommendation
You can certainly try Compression stockings by yourself, however, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional. A doctor can diagnose the cause behind the symptoms you are having and can guide you in a better way to choose the socks with an appropriate compression level, size and time interval for which you need to wear them. If you still think that you can choose a basic pair for yourself, it is important to consider the size and fit. Measure the circumference of your leg to determine the perfect size for you. Follow the steps instructed by the manufacturer for obtaining the correct value.
Care Guide for Compression Stockings
Whether you get your pair from a local store or purchase them online, it is important to care for and maintain them so that they last longer and stay effective. Give them a gentle hand wash using water at room temperature and dry them in shade. Using harsh chemicals and hot water may cause loosening of the fabric and changes in compression properties.
If you are purchasing these stockings to treat a medical condition, it may be advisable to seek professional assistance from a healthcare expert. Read the instructions on the pack carefully about how to put them on and remove them. In case any unusual symptom is noticed, ask the doctor immediately.