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Compression stockings are snug-fitting sleeves or socks worn over the lower limbs and designed mainly for compression therapy. They fit firmly against your skin and help by applying moderate pressure, softly squeezing your legs. This helps the blood to flow from your legs back up to your heart and can reduce pain and swelling in your ankles and legs.

Benefits of Compression Stockings

The benefits of compression stockings include:

  • Preventing and reducing swelling
  • Boosting blood circulation in your legs
  • Preventing blood from pooling in the legs
  • Providing support to the calves, ankles, and feet
  • Preventing venous ulcerations
  • Reducing orthostatic hypotension
  • Helping to decrease pain from varicose veins
  • Improving lymphatic drainage
  • Preventing development of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in your legs

Types of Compression Stockings

There are different types of stockings of various lengths and compression strength. Your doctor will recommend the appropriate type of stocking depending on your condition.

Types of stockings include:

  • Graduated compression stockings: These are prescription stockings in which the level of compression is strongest at the ankle and gradually decreases towards the top. They are designed for those who are mobile, and the length and strength are specified according to their medical condition.
  • Anti-embolism stockings: Also called TED hose, these stockings are prescribed to reduce the possibility of deep vein thrombosis in those who are bedridden or not mobile following surgery.
  • Nonmedical support hosiery: These include elastic support hose and flight socks, which can potentially relieve tired and achy legs and are available over the counter.

How Should Compression Stockings be Worn?

Your doctor will advise you on the kind of stockings you need and how often you should wear them. The material should lie flat and evenly against the skin and should not be bunched up. Avoid wearing stockings that are too tight. Check your legs for signs of redness or irritation.

Risks Associated with the Use of Compression Stockings

If worn properly and for the right reasons, stockings are quite beneficial and have little or no side-effects. Occasionally, some people experience:

  • Allergy to the material
  • Peripheral nerve damage from improper use
  • Skin-breakdown from improper use

Compression stockings should not be worn if you have certain medical conditions that affecting arterial blood flow, as it can cause worsening of these conditions.

  • The Arthroscopy Association of North America
  • The American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedics (AOAO)
  • The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society┬«
    Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation
  • American Academy of Osteopathy
  • American Osteopathic Association