Compression stockings are garments that tightly squeeze the skin for medical purposes, and may be worn for a variety of reasons. For instance, they may be recommended by a doctor after certain kinds of surgery. They may also be recommended by physicians for people who are non-ambulatory for a time. For those who suffer from conditions like varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis, a doctor may also recommend the wearing of compression stockings or hosiery.
All Stockings Are Not Equal
These are not like regular long socks, compression stockings use graduated pressure applied at the ankle that steadily increases up to the knee. The pressure squeezes varicose veins and helps push blood toward the heart. It also reduces stress on varicose veins, helping varicose vein symptoms such as aching, heaviness, and vein pain in your legs.
Compression hose may be used during an activity such as exercise or lounging – or even while you sleep. Support hose may also help to prevent varicose veins in the first place by compressing varicose veins and helping varicose vein valves function properly.
You can purchase vascular health wear at pharmacies, medical supply stores, and online.
Compression stockings are generally graded by the amount of compression they provide.
- 8-15 mmHg stockings are the lowest grade, typically available over the counter. These may come in knee-high, thigh-high, pantyhose or maternity pantyhose styles.
- 20-30 mmHg stockings are the first medical grade compression stockings. It is the most widely used, providing ample compression without being too strong. These are generally recommended for the treatment of varicose veins, spider veins, leg swelling, and after surgery.
- 30-40 mmHg stockings are stockings that are recommended for more serious symptoms. They are also commonly recommended for those with deep vein thrombosis, blood clots, and lymphedema.
- 40-50 mmHg stockings offer the strongest grade of compression. This level of compression is usually reserved for those with severe venous stasis and lymphedema.
Once your doctor has recommended compression stockings, you’ll generally have a wide variety of styles to choose from to fit your lifestyle. Always wear your compression stockings as the doctor recommends if they are prescribed to you.
How To Use Compression Stockings
Many doctors will recommend that you put on your compression stockings when you first wake up, before swelling has had a chance to occur. It may also be recommended that you wear them prior to long flights or trips in a car where you will be sedentary for a long period.
Before putting on your compression stockings, you will want to lay them out so that they are smooth, and to prevent wrinkles. When pulling them on, make sure to avoid bunching. Do not roll them down, because this may put too much compression in one area. Your doctor will let you know how long you need to wear them, but doctors generally recommend removing them before sleeping. Of course, you’ll also want to remove them while bathing.
When you purchase your compression stockings, they will probably come with a guide about how to wash and care for them. It is best if you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the care of your stockings. Many compression stockings are fine tossed into the washing machine, but some need to be hand washed.
Hand washing is simple. You’ll want to place the stockings into a bucket or tub or sink filled with water at the recommended temperature that already has soap or detergent added. If your stockings need to be soaked, allow them to soak for a time. You will then want to rub the stockings together gently to clean them. Once you have cleaned them, rinse them thoroughly.
After cleaning, you may hang to allow them to air dry. Again, check the manufacturer’s recommendations for drying them using a dryer.
Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins
Used properly, compression stockings are an important part of controlling the symptoms of vein diseases like varicose veins. They squeeze the vessels so that blood can flow easier up your legs and prevent the pooling of blood that causes vein issues.
It’s important to wear the correct size of compression hose so they give you the right amount of pressure. If your stocking is too tight, it can cause varicose veins or worsen varicose veins symptoms such as itching and burning. Your leg should feel firm but not tight – a bit like a firm handshake. Too loose and it won’t work as well.