How do Compression Stockings Work?

Compression stockings are flexible, elastic garments that fit tightly around the legs, ankles and feet, improving blood circulation and preventing further progress of health issues related to dysfunctions of veins, especially deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Typically, they are loose around the feet so that inflammation is reduced mostly around legs and ankles.

Compression stockings come in different size and materials. Even though low pressure compression stockings can be purchased at pharmacies over the counter, a doctor’s recommendation is best, they know the level of compression that you should be aiming for.

  • Who Needs Compression Stockings?
  • People with blood circulation issues due to venous insufficiency (when veins do not function properly, the blood they should be taking to the lungs for oxygenation is severely delayed), varicose veins (enlarged expanded veins, sometimes painful), DVT (blood clots that form due to poor blood circulation), lymphedema (accumulation of lymph fluids) or diabetes.

  • Sports lovers and athletes.

  • Patients with mobility impairments due to inflamed or sore legs.

  • Individuals who need to stand-up for long periods of time at work, like nurses or surveillance workers.

  • Pregnant women (pressure on the vena cava, which returns blood to the heart can cause their legs to swell).

  • How do compression stockings work?

The principle is very simple: blood circulation is improved due to pressure exerted by the stockings on legs, which in turn, allows more oxygen to get to tissues, organs and muscles. This is due to arteries and veins performing enhanced jobs.

For some people including athletes, compression stockings have proven to reduce leg inflammation and soreness and prevent worsening of health disorders like varicose veins. This in turn, has reduced pain and feelings of tiredness. However, more research is needed to fully confirm their effectiveness in these areas.

Since these stockings are constantly pushing blood, clots become more difficult to build-up, becoming potentially less dangerous. If you have venous insufficiency and valves in your veins are not working adequately, blood can collect in your legs, and when this happens your doctor will probably recommend you to wear compression stockings.

Compression stockings will not cure illnesses, but alleviate symptoms and prevent health conditions from deteriorating. To prevent DVT from developing however, higher pressure intensity compression stockings need to be worn.

Stockings should not be up folded, because that can make them too tight and cause blood circulation issues; a good fitting is most important to assure effectiveness of treatment. Nurses and medical caregivers trained on these matters are competent medical staff, you should heed their advice.

  • Who Should Avoid Wearing Compression Stockings?
  • Patients with cardiac issues or pulmonary edemas

  • Individuals with leg infections

  • People with excessive leg inflammation, allergies or skin reactions to the stockingsĀ“ fibers

Consult your doctor, nurse or caregiver for more information and medical advice concerning your symptoms and specific needs before wearing compression stockings!

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