As previously mentioned, medical grade compression stockings are unique in that they provide GRADUATED COMPRESSION, that is, most of the squeeze or pressure is at the foot and the least amount is at the top of the stocking. Therefore, the degree of compression is described by a range. The higher number is the amount of pressure or squeeze at the foot and the lower number is the pressure at the top of the sock.
- 8-15mmHg: Very light compression. Can provide relief from tired aching legs, possibly help control minor swelling. Most people say the stockings simply feel good.
- 15-20mmHg: Great for travel, standing or sitting for long periods of time. Relief from minor swelling and varicose veins, often recommended during pregnancy.
- 20-30mmHg: The most frequently prescribed compression level. These are also good for venous thrombosis prevention during extended travel. Relief from moderate to severe varicose veins and swelling, edema, lymphedema, venous insufficiency, superficial thrombophlebitis. Often prescribed post-sclerotherapy and to prevent venous stasis ulcers.
- 30-40mmHg: Relief from severe varicose veins and swelling, edema, lymphedema, or following an episode of deep venous thrombosis. For severe chronic venous insufficiency or post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) which may result in: edema and skin changes such as: hyperpigmentation, stasis dermatitis, lipodermatosclerosis, or venous stasis ulcers. These should be worn under doctors’ supervision.
- 40-50mmHg: Extra firm compression and therefore should only be worn when recommended by your treating physician or other health care provider. For severe chronic venous insufficiency or post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) which may result in: edema and skin changes such as: hyperpigmentation, stasis dermatitis, lipodermatosclerosis, or venous stasis ulcers. These should be worn under a doctor's supervision.
Many people wear compression stockings to help control swelling or edema (fluid) in the legs and feet. This common condition can be a result of a very wide variety of conditions, and often the result of a condition known as venous insufficiency. It is important to understand that compression stockings do not typically cure the problem but are, in fact highly effective at controlling the excess fluid and minimizing long term complications from it. So, if you have edema in the legs, we strongly recommend that you discuss this condition with your physician to determine the underlying cause of the edema.
How much compression do I need?
There is no absolute answer but generally the lowest compression necessary to do the job. If you wear compression stockings to control swelling in the legs, measure your ankles first thing in the morning when they are normal. Measure again at the end of the day when you have noticeable swelling. If there is more than ½ inch difference by evening, then 20-30 mm/Hg pressure is most likely what you need. If there is only minimal swelling noted, you may get by with less compression (15-20 mm/Hg.) If you wear a properly fitted 20-30 mm/Hg compression garment and notice that fluid accumulates during the day, then consider increasing the compression. If you have never worn compression stockings before, we generally do not recommend going straight to a 30-40 mm/Hg compression stocking. Remember, the higher the compression, the more difficult the stocking will be to get on. People with severe arthritis, limited hand strength, or limited flexibility may have difficulty getting the socks on.
- For minor or occasional swelling or discomfort, try a 15-20 mm/Hg compression.
- If you regularly have swelling in the ankles or feet by the end of the day, we find most people enjoy the best results with a compression of 20-30 mm/Hg.
- If you have severe swelling or if you get swelling while wearing 20-30 mm/Hg compression, consider moving to a 30-40 mm/Hg compression. Again, we suggest that you consult your physician first. Remember, compression stockings help treat the symptom and not really the underlying cause of the fluid accumulation!
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