Compression Stockings: Why, When and How to Use Them?

Compression Stockings: Why, When and How to Use Them?
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They are often disliked by those who have to wear them and yet they are useful and particularly necessary in many situations where you might need to prevent further issues. Compression socks are usually recommended and prescribed to patients suffering from varicose veins and venous insufficiency, but not only.

Why are they prescribed, how to choose them, how to position them properly or even maintain them, we will answer all the questions you might have about compression socks, and you will see that wearing them is not that bad after all!

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Zoom in on compression socks

Compression stockings are elastic garments worn around the leg, compressing the limb to facilitate blood flow. They are classified by the degree of compression which varies according to the medical prescription.

The compression they allow prevents the accumulation of blood in the veins and helps to push the blood back up the legs. Compression stockings will reduce the intensity of pain but can also prevent complications.

Compression is not new. Compressing on a painful area is a common reflex when suffering. As early as the ancient Egypt period, was found traces that tight bandages were used already for medical purposes.

Nowadays, compression stockings are usually prescribed to treat different disorders.

Compression stockings are no longer grandmothers’ stockings. They exist in the form of socks, stockings, knee-high, black or skin tone colors and even with lace. But compression stockings are above all an essential medical device for certain pathologies.

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A wide range of stockings!

Anti-Embolism and compression stockings: what are the differences?

Often confused by patients, they are very different. The biggest difference is the compression level. Anti-Embolism Stockings are usually 8–18mmHg, while compression stockings are a medically-measured 15–20mmHg or higher. Anti-Embolism stockings are therefore mainly used as a preventive solution, and its role is to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis.

Anti-embolism stockings will, therefore, be prescribed mainly to prevent the appearance of varicose veins or to avoid the sensation of heavy legs. Also, note that most medical insurance plans do not cover medical and non-medical compression stockings. 

The different types of compression stockings

All compression stockings are different and are classified according to the pressure they exert.  For example, type 1 and 2 compression stockings are primarily indicated for the treatment of moderate venous insufficiencies.

Type 2 compression stockings are meant to act on the veins in the muscle, while type 3 and 4 compression stockings are mainly prescribed for advanced venous insufficiencies. Your doctor will prescribe you which type is best suited to your case.

Compression stockings: Why are they prescribed?

Compression stockings are prescribed in the following cases:

Only a few people have not suffered from the feeling of heavy legs. This usually happens during a long car ride, during a long plane journey or if our work requires us to stand up for a very long time.

In these specific cases, compression stockings will allow better blood circulation and therefore reduce the feeling of heavy legs.

Putting on compression stockings: Our advice

Did your doctor prescribe you compression stockings? So here are some very simple rules to apply before you put on your compression stockings:

  • Put your compression stocking on first thing in the morning. In some cases, your doctor may advise you to put them on before you even set one foot on the ground.
  • Do not apply cream or body milk on your legs
  • If you have a wound on your leg, we advise you to put a sterile compress on it to avoid any friction

We will explain how to put on compression stockings. if you have trouble reaching your feet, we recommend that you sit on a low seat. Here are the steps to make it easier to put on your compression stockings:

  • First, grab the heel pocket and turn the pocket inside out
  • In the compression stocking, point your toes and slide the stocking halfway onto your foot
  • Take hold of the top band on each side and pull the stocking over your heel up over your calf, and into position on your leg
  • Make sure to smooth out any wrinkles
  • Do not pull on your compression stockings so that the compression force is the same everywhere

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If you have difficulties putting on your compression stockings, apply a little talc to the legs to ensure a smooth glide or consider using a stocking donner. If you have daily care at your house, ask the nurse to put them on for you. Remove any rings or jewelry that might snag the stockings. Also, cut your nails and check that the inside of your shoes is in good condition.

How to choose your compression stockings?

First of all, it is important that you are properly measured to choose the right size. Measurements should always be taken in the morning when legs are rested and not swollen.

  • Start by measuring the narrowest point of the ankle.
  • Then measure the girth of the widest part of the calf.
  • Next, measure the thigh girth at the thickest part, just below the buttocks.
  • Now measure the distance from the bottom of the buttocks to the ground

If these measures seem difficult to you, your doctor or pharmacist can do it.

Unlike a few years ago, today you will have more choices regarding stockings. You can choose for example between socks, tights or stockings. Their effectiveness is similar so it remains a personal choice. However, they must adapt to your morphology and not compress a varicose vein.

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You will also have the choice of fabrics. Cotton, linen or bamboo are recommended for people who sweat a lot because they tend to be more breathable.

As for the color, the choice is now wider. For aesthetic reasons, skin tone colors are the most purchased compression stockings. 

How to wash your compression stockings?

Caring for your compression stockings is easy. In some cases (as specified in the instructions) you can wash them in a washing machine at a warm temperature. But washing your garment by hand with warm water and neutral soap is highly recommended.

Make sure to rinse the stockings and wring them out without twisting them. To let the stockings dry, it is recommended to hang them on a clothesline. Do not put them in the dryer and do not iron them.

Frequently asked questions on the forums about compression stockings

It isn’t easy to wear compression stockings for the first time. If this is your case, we will answer the main questions found on forums about compression stockings. If you have another question, do not hesitate to ask us!

Should I wear my compression stockings every day?

Yes, for optimal effectiveness doctors advise you to wear your compression stockings every day. However, in some cases, they can only be worn during high-risk activities such as prolonged standing, long flights or physical activities.

Do you need a prescription to buy compression stockings?

Yes. You can’t buy compression stockings if you don’t have a medical prescription.

How long do compression stockings last?

If you wear them every day, they last approximately 3 months.

Should I wear compression stockings at night?

At night, the compression is not useful. It is not recommended to wear compression stockings at night.

Conclusion

When your medical practitioner prescribes compression stockings, patients tend to minimize their effect and not wear them. However, they are necessary. The unsightly side was often the reason for not wearing them, but today, compression stockings are more discreet and therefore more aesthetic.

It takes some time to get used to wearing them, but the comfort and relief of compression stockings quickly take over. It is important to wear them every day and to put them on properly. You will see that relief is quick and that wearing compression stockings has a real therapeutic role.

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