Compression stockings are specialized hosiery designed to help prevent the occurrence of and guard against, further progression of venous disorders such as edema, phlebitis, and thrombosis.
Compression stockings are elastic garments worn around the leg, compressing the limb. This reduces the diameter of distended veins and causes an increase in venous blood flow velocity and valve effectiveness. Compression therapy helps decrease venous pressure, relieves heavy / aching legs, and prevents venous stasis and impairments of the venous wall. Knee High Compression Hose is used not only to help increase circulation but to also help prevent the formation of blood clots in the lower legs, as well as aiding in the treatment of ulcers of the lower legs.
Unlike traditional dress or athletic stockings and socks, compression stockings use stronger elastics to create significant pressure on the legs, ankles, and feet. Compression stockings are tightest at the ankles and gradually become less constrictive towards the knees and thighs. By compressing the surface veins, arteries, and muscles, the circulating blood is forced through narrower circulatory channels. As a result, the arterial pressure is increased, which causes more blood to return to the heart and less blood to pool in the feet.
There are two types of compression stockings, gradient, and anti-embolism.
Gradient compression stockings
Gradient compression stockings are designed to remedy impaired “musculovenous pump” performance caused by incompetent leg vein valves. They are woven in such a way that the compression level is highest around the ankle and lessens towards the top of the hose. Doctors will typically recommend these stockings for those who are prone to blood clots, lower limb edema, and blood pooling in the legs and feet from prolonged periods of sitting or inactivity. They are also frequently used to address complications caused by diabetes, lymphedema, thrombosis, cellulitis, and other conditions.
These stockings are worn by those who are ambulatory in most cases, where they assist the calf muscles to perform their pumping action more efficiently to return blood to the heart. In some cases, they are worn by those at increased risk of circulatory problems, such as diabetics, whose legs are prone to excessive swelling. A common indicator for the prescription of such stockings is chronic peripheral venous insufficiency, caused by incompetent perforator veins.
It is crucial that compression stockings are properly sized. Compression should gradually decrease by 70% from the highest level of compression at the ankle to the just below the knee. Vascular doctors & nurses may use special pads to ensure uniform higher pressure around the circumference of the ankle (to smooth out the irregular cross-sectional profile.) “Firm” gradient stockings (20-30 mmHg and 30-40 mmHg) should generally be worn only on medical advice.