Compression stockings are the preferred treatment method for venous and lymphatic disorders such as varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, and lymphedema. These garments also reduce heaviness, pain, and swelling in the legs.
For people who don’t have venous disorders, compression stockings can help by energizing their legs and preventing any future vein problems. Therefore, these are especially beneficial for those who spend long hours standing or sitting.
However, choosing suitable compression stockings and wearing them properly is crucial to ensure optimal performance.
Here’s everything you need to know about compression stockings and how to ensure that you are using them correctly.
What Are Compression Stockings Used For?
Compression socks and stockings are used for compression therapy. They apply gentle graduated pressure to your legs, boosting blood flow from your legs back to your heart. They also help relieve swelling and pain in your ankles and legs.
Benefits Of Wearing Compression Stockings:
- Applying compression reduces the diameter of significant veins and increases the velocity of blood flow.
- It also assists blood flow against the pull of gravity.
- It also helps prevent blood from accumulating in the lower legs and feet.
- Compression stockings help manage symptoms caused by venous insufficiencies like Varicose Veins, Skin Ulcers, Lymphedema, and Deep Vein Thrombosis and prevent its progression.
- Compression socks help reverse venous hypertension.
How To Choose The Right Compression Stockings?
Compression stockings are available in a variety of sizes, lengths, and colors. They are also available in different levels of compression. Choosing the proper compression level and stocking size is very important to get the maximum benefit from compression therapy.
Medical compression stockings are available in different compression levels or grades.
While there is a general guideline for the use of each grade of compression, this is not binding. Your doctor will determine the grade you require by the severity of your condition.
Medical compression stockings of a higher compression class should not be used without the guidance of your physician.
1. Medical Compression Class 1 (18-21 mmHg)
Ideal for mild compression needs, class 1 compression stockings help manage mild varicose veins symptoms and support veins when standing or sitting for long hours.
• Lowest level in medical compression
• Moderate compression
• Relief from tired legs and prevention of varicose veins during pregnancy
• Helps prevent the economy class syndrome
• Relief from symptoms of mild varicose veins
2. Class 2 Medical Compression (23 – 32 mmHg)
The most commonly prescribed compression level, these stockings treat more severe symptoms and conditions.
• Offers Firm Compression• Relief for heavily fatigued legs
• Relieves symptoms of pronounced varicose veins
• Relieves symptoms of severe varicose veins during pregnancy
• Management of healed venous ulcers
3. Medical Compression Class 3 (34 – 46 mmHg)
Class 3 compression stockings provide strong compression ideal for treating and managing severe venous insufficiencies. This level should only be used under medical guidance.
• Offers very firm compression
• Effective in healing active & recurring venous ulcers
• Relief from symptoms of serious cases of varicose veins
• Management of DVT
Compression Stockings Size
To find the correct compression stocking size, you will first need to measure your legs correctly. Each brand has its own measuring instructions and sizing charts. The compression stockings chart will help you find the right size of compression garment for your legs.
The correct compression garment should fit your legs snugly but should not be so tight that it constricts the blood circulation. They may be difficult to put on but should feel comfortable once worn.
You must get your compression stocking size checked by a nurse or doctor before usage.
How To Wear Compression Stockings Correctly?
Here’s everything you need to know about wearing compression stockings correctly:
- Wear them first thing in the morning when you have the least amount of swelling.
- Sit in a chair with a back as it gives you support to lean against as you put on the stockings.
- Use rubber gloves to help you grip the material of your stocking and prevent any rips and tears from your nails.
- Hold the top of the compression stockings with one hand. Then with your free hand, reach inside the hose and push your arm in till you find the heel section of the sock.
- When you can hold the heel section, pull your hand back up through the stocking, turning it inside out, creating a pocket. The heel section will be right at the edge of this pocket.
- First, put on the satin foot slip that comes with the stockings to wear the stockings. Hold the stocking pocket with both hands and put your foot in. Next, slide the stocking up to your heel.
- Now, hold the stocking from the top band, turn it over and pull it up and over your leg.
- Use the palm of the gloves to adjust the fabric over your leg correctly so that the garment is in the correct position without any creases or wrinkles.
- Be gentle with your stocking, and don’t pull at the top of the compression stocking as that can cause it to rip.
If you have trouble Wearing Stockings
- You can use Sigvaris accessories like slim-slide and Doff n donner to wear and take your stockings off easily.
Side Effects Of Wearing Compression Stockings
In general, compression socks are safe when worn correctly.
If you suffer from congestive heart failure, peripheral arterial disease, advanced peripheral neuropathy, or rheumatoid arthritis (RA), please consult your doctor before wearing medical compression stockings.
Compression socks must be fitted properly. Loose compression stockings are ineffective, and stockings that are of a smaller size can be dangerous as they can cut off your circulation.
Best Practices For Wearing Compression Socks
Here are a few best practices for wearing compression socks safely and avoiding any side effects:
- Wear compression stockings after getting them fitted by a professional.
- In case of weight change, get fitted again to ensure you are wearing the correct size.
- Follow instructions from the garment manufacturers and your healthcare provider.
- Check your skin regularly for changes like redness, dents, dryness, and chafing.
- Hand-wash compression socks and dry them cautiously to prevent pilling or changes in the fabric.
- Take your compression socks off before going to sleep and replace them with a clean pair to maintain hygiene and prevent infections.
- You should have your legs measured again and your compression stockings replaced every 3 to 6 months.
Compression socks are safe to wear if you are precautious and adhere to all the guidelines stated by the doctor and the garment’s manufacturer.
Wearing the right size and compression class stockings is essential to get all the benefits of compression therapy. However, wearing wrongly fitted stockings can be counterproductive and harmful.
Consult your doctor before choosing or changing your compression stockings.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Is it harmful to wear compression stockings to bed?
Ans: When you lie down, you take away the effect of gravity. So there’s no need to wear compression socks while sleeping. But it’s not harmful to wear compression stockings to bed, not if it’s for short periods anyway.
Q2. Can compression stockings cause blood clots?
Ans: Compression stockings help improve blood circulation and prevent blood clots. However, if your compression stockings are not fitted correctly or the compression is not ‘graduated,’ it may make your blood circulation worse and even result in blood clots.
Q3. How long does it take for compression socks to work?
Ans: Once you start wearing compression socks, you will notice an improvement in leg pain, swelling and other symptoms almost immediately. If you have visible bulging varicose veins, it may take up to 6 weeks to see an improvement in the appearance of the veins.
Q4. Is wearing compression socks all day bad?
Ans: The general guideline for wearing compression socks is to put them on first thing in the morning and take them off at night before going to bed unless your doctor has advised differently. Wearing compression socks all day helps boost blood circulation and reduce pain and swelling.