Your Get-Started Guide to Compression Stockings

Covidien TED - Anti-embolism Thigh High 8-18mmHg Compression Support Stockings (Open Toe).

What Are Compression Stockings?

Compression stockings are a fairly broad class of stockings that apply higher amounts of squeezing pressure on the foot and ankle, a little less pressure as the stocking goes up the calf, and even less into the thigh. This is called gradient pressure because it flows from a high grade of pressure to a lower grade of pressure. They are more similar in appearance to pantyhose than cotton knit sport socks.


When Are Compression Stockings Used?

Doctors will typically prescribe a patient compression stockings after surgery or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Compression stockings are also prescribed to help treat varicose veins and spider veins.

The purpose of these pressurized stockings is to enhance blood flow in the legs. Compression stockings also prevent leg swelling and to a lesser degree reduce the chances of blood clots forming.

They are meant to be worn all day. In fact, it is best to put them on when one first wakes up because that is when feet and ankles will be the least swollen in the entire 24 hour period.

Compression stockings should be washed daily after a single wear. Therefore, it is recommended to have a few pairs for convenience.

Compression Stocking Features

Compression stockings come in various sizes (in addition to small, medium, and large, there are also knee-high and thigh-high options within the sizes), colors, and degrees of pressure.

You'll want some professional help getting fitted for your first pair of compression stockings. Therefore, it may be best to find a medical supply store to get help in person. If you can't do that, don't fear. There are online medical suppliers that have sizing charts on their websites so that you can buy the right size as long as you know your foot size and calf and thigh circumference measurements.

Anti-Embolism Compression Stockings

A sub-category of compression hosiery is the anti-embolism stocking. You may see them referred to as TED hose, which stands for thromboembolism-deterrent hose. They support veinous and lymphatic drainage of the leg. They are most commonly prescribed for non-ambulatory patients because they have a gradient pressure process that, when combined with the muscle pump from the calf, improves circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid through the leg. 

Accessories to Compression Stocking Wear

Since compression stockings can be expensive, yet are built with a fine material, like pantyhose, they can run and snag fairly easily when you try to put them on. The added pressure these specialty stockings have further complicates the difficulty of putting them on.

As a result, manufacturers have invented medical supply aids to help reduce the chances of a run or a snag, as well as ways to simply make the experience of putting them on and taking them off easier.

One such product, made by Sigvaris, are the Compression Stocking/Support Hose Latex Donning Gloves.

These gloves look similar to gloves you would wear while washing dishes. They have a raised ridge that makes it easier for you to grasp the stockings and roll them up or down your leg.

Sigvaris also makes a kit they call the Doff N Donner and Cone. The Donner is a soft donning device that you use to guide the stocking up or down the leg when dressing or undressing. The Cone makes the process even easier. It sets in place to the floor with its suction cup base, and the Cone is used jointly with the Doff N Donner.

Jobst also makes a stocking donner. Their version looks like a miniature walker. It has two handles the user can lean on, and a wire frame in between them that holds the stocking in place. The user simply steps into the stocking and the Jobst frame feeds the stocking up the leg.

Continue Reading