Compression stockings are specialized socks that apply pressure to your legs.
The compression is graduated meaning the socks exert the greatest compression at the ankle and the level of compression gradually decreases up the garment. This pressure gradient encourages the movement of fluid upward toward the heart, thereby reducing blood/fluid stagnation and providing better drainage of the deep vein system.
The primary goals and beneficial effects of compression therapy are:
- Improving blood flow within the legs
- Reducing swelling in the legs and ankles
- Improving lymphatic drainage
- Reducing pain related to varicose veins
- Managing orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Preventing other medical conditions (DVT, venous ulcer, blood pooling in veins)
What Are the Uses of Compression Socks?
Compression stockings can be used for a variety of conditions and/or populations and are often recommended for the following:
Pregnant women are typically prone to swelling in their legs, feet and ankles. Compression stockings help to reduce chances of swelling and symptoms of fatigue, heaviness and achiness often associated with the increase in swelling.
Whether it is by car or plane, long distance travel can be associated with leg pain, swelling in the legs/feet and increased risk of DVT due to lack of leg movement. Compression stockings will help to prevent the negative side effects associated with reduced mobility while traveling.
- Prolonged standing.
Tired, achy and swollen legs and feet are commonly associated with jobs that require prolonged standing or walking. Compression garments can help reduce soreness, fatigue and swelling by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the legs and enhancing the upward direction of flow.
Because compression garments may help improve blood flow and thus oxygen delivery, athletes will sometimes wear them while they are exercising, practicing or during their sport/competition. Compression garments may also help speed recovery and reduce muscle soreness post workout.
- Other medical conditions.
Graded compression therapy has also been used in conditions such as: lymphedema, post venous ulcers and post deep vein thrombosis (DVT or blood clot).
mmHg represents the compression level, or amount of pressure for therapy put on the legs.
There are a variety of compression levels – ranging from low (8 mmHg-15 mmHg) to high (>30 mmHg).
Medical grade compression is generally above 20 mmHg and requires a prescription from your doctor. However, the lower levels of compression garments are often used for many of the above situations and are available over the counter.
At Donald Physiotherapy, many are trained in the measurement and fitting of compression stockings. You will have a trained and certified fitter measure your leg and receive education on selecting different materials or styles best suited for your needs.
SPOILER - Did you know most Health Plans cover the costs of at least 1 to 2 pairs a socks per year?? Ask us how!
Give us a call today if you have any further questions!
Image 1: Healthy vs Vein Problems: https://orthohealth.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/vein.jpg
Image 2: https://www.sigvaris.com/en-ca/expertise/basics/compression-therapy