Frequently Asked Questions About Compression Socks
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If you have aching feet or swelling in the lower legs or ankles below the knee, knee-high stockings will typically provide all the compression you need. This length stocking is also the easiest style to fit.
If you need compressive support throughout the entire length of the leg, thigh-high stockings, pantyhose, or a leotard are appropriate. For compression to be effective, it must cover the area of the limb where the problem exists.
If you have been told to wear a compression garment by your doctor or therapist, he or she should have told you what compression level you need, to treat your specific condition. Wearing compression over 20mmHg is not recommended unless it has been prescribed for you.
Our Compression Guide guide gives a broad overview of the different levels of compression, and how they are used to treat certain conditions, but it should not be a substitute for medical advice.
Yes, almost all compression stockings are sold in pairs. The few that are not, are clearly marked as such. Compression armsleeves are sold individually, as are most compression wraps with velcro.
Great question … some stockings are sized by shoe size or height and weight, but most are sized by leg measurements. If you swell, best to measure first thing in the morning. Measure the circumference of your ankle at the narrowest point, your calf at the widest point, and the distance from the floor to the bend of your knee for knee highs. For thigh highs and pantyhose, you’ll also need to measure around your upper thigh and the length of your leg from the floor to crease of buttocks.
Compare your measurements to the size chart for the stockings you want to purchase, or use our Size Machine. Just plug in your measurements, and you’ll get a list of products that fit. Every brand is sized differently.
Assuming you don’t have any venous issues, a moderate compression of 15-20mmHg is recommended for travel.
Some insurance plans cover compression hosiery, many do not. It depends on the plan. If you have health insurance, give them a call to see if they will reimburse for compression garments. Because of the administrative costs, we regret that we are unable to process insurance claims for you. We can, however, provide you with a detailed invoice that can be submitted for reimbursement.
It almost all cases, Medicare will only pay for compression stockings if you have an active venous stasis ulcer on your leg.
Watch our donning video, which demonstrates several different ways to don, or put on, your compression stockings.
Often a skin reaction to silicone bands is caused by rubbing or friction, not from a reaction to the silicone itself.
If the irritation is caused by a reaction to the silicone, many of the thigh highs we carry can be special ordered without a silicone band, and you will use either a garter belt or skin glue (It Stays) to keep the stockings in place.
Every product we sell has detailed laundry instructions included in the packaging. On our website, you’ll find laundry instructions for each product under the MORE INFO tab. Some brands can be machine washed and dried, some just machine washed, some require hand washing and air drying.
As with any item made of fabric, it will last longer if it’s hand washed and air dried, but this can be difficult. If you machine wash your stockings, use a mild detergent and warm or cold water, never hot. If your stockings are sheer, use a lingerie bag to prevent snags. If you machine dry, use a low heat setting. Silicone top-bands will loose their softness more quickly if machine dried. And finally, wash them daily. This removes dirt and oils from your skin that can break-down the spandex, and it returns the stocking to its original shape and size.
Compression stockings apply pressure to the circumference of the leg which affects the leg’s surface veins in a graduated, controlled manner. This temporarily reduces the size of the surface veins and forces blood into the deep vein system within the legs. Clinical studies have shown that applying graduated compression to the legs increases blood flow to the deep veins. The result is better blood circulation which usually brings relief from painful symptoms caused by poor blood flow.
Because the legs are farthest from the heart, and blood flowing back to the heart must work against gravity, blood circulation to the legs is often affected by medical conditions, increasing age, weight, or occupational stresses. Any of these can cause serious problems with blood circulation. Impaired blood circulation may cause symptoms ranging from fatigue, aching, and swelling in your hands, legs, and feet to more serious conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). These conditions can usually be reduced by wearing the appropriate type of “graduated compression” hosiery. Doctors call this approach compression therapy.
Graduated means that the level of compressive pressure applied to the circumference of the leg gradually decreases as you move from the lower to the upper part of the garment. The result is that more pressure is applied to the veins in the lower leg than in the upper leg which pushes fluids up. The amount of pressure in compression hosiery is indicated using the measurement term “mmHg” or millimeters of mercury which is how the compression is measured. Some examples are 15-20mmHg, 20-30mmHg, and 30-40mmHg.
Doctors recommend compression hosiery for treatment or to provide relief for many conditions affecting the veins. Your doctor or medical professional is your best source to find out if it might help you. Compression hosiery is a medical product and you should check with your doctor before wearing it to ask what level of compression best suits your medical condition. To get the best results from compression therapy, you need to wear the right level of compression and wear a garment that fits you properly.
The symptoms of varicose veins, spider veins, venous insufficiency, phlebitis, chronic ankle and leg swelling, and deep vein thrombosis can all be helped with graduated compression therapy. Because the correct compression level is highly important to getting the best result, you should consult with your doctor or medical professional for advice regarding the appropriate compression level for your condition. Verify this with your doctor from time to time, particularly if your health changes.
Absolute contraindications, or medical conditions in which compression is never recommended, include ischemia (e.g. advanced arterial disease), uncontrolled congestive heart failure, untreated septic phlebitis, and phlegmasia coerulea dolens.
Relative contraindications, or medical reasons in which compression is sometimes not recommended, include concomitant dermatoses, intolerance to compression stocking fabric, sensory disturbance of the limb, advanced peripheral neuropathy, and primary chronic arthritis..
Diabetic socks are stockings woven with either no compression or a low level of compression that is non-constricting. They have an antimicrobial finish to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungus, include moisture wicking fibers to keep the feet dry, and have no seams or have flat smooth seams that won’t create friction points or irritate your skin.
Yes. Most adults can benefit from compression hosiery regardless of age. Usually, healthier and younger people wear lighter levels of compression.
Anyone who spends a great deal of time sitting behind a desk or standing up for extended periods may experience constriction of blood vessels and blood pooling in their legs and feet. They will find that graduated compression hosiery can help reduce the swelling, fatigue, and leg aches as their circulation gets a boost from the hosiery. The heavier levels of compression should only be worn under a doctor’s supervision.
Athletes, particularly runners, find that knee-high compression hosiery improves performance and reduces recovery time as less fatigue is felt after a work-out. Frequent travelers can wear travel socks to help prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Many pregnant women develop venous problems, such as varicose veins and spider veins, and maternity pantyhose can help prevent or minimize these problems.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), also known popularly as economy class syndrome, is a very serious condition in which dangerous blood clots can form in the legs during flights due to cabin pressure and cramped seating positions. Studies show that graduated compression hosiery, sometimes called travel or airplane socks can help prevent or minimize the formation of these blood clots.
No matter how healthy you are, when you are passively seated in a plane, a car, or even at a desk, for long periods of inactivity during which the leg muscles are not moved can lead to blood pooling in the legs. This causes swelling and discomfort and may even lead to the formation of blood clots in veins deep inside the legs. When activity resumes, a blood clot can move to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. Anyone who spends long periods of time in passive sitting can be at risk. You can reduce the risk by wearing compression stockings. Compression therapy will help your legs feel energized and reduce swelling in the legs and feet. It’s one of the simplest things you can do to prevent DVT.
All brands offer the three basic styles (knee-highs, thigh-highs, and pantyhose) in the standard compression levels (15-20mmHg, 20-30mmHg, and 30-40mmHg). The differences between brands are often in the type of fabrics offered (sheer, opaque, etc.) and options available (open toe, petite length, silicone band, etc.). Every brand fits a little differently as well. First time customers will often try several brands to see which one fits them the best.
We do sell compression stockings with a zipper, but don’t get excited. To put on a stocking that has real graduated compression and a zipper takes 3 hands, two to hold the fabric together, and one to pull up the zipper. Compression stockings with a zipper are designed to protect wound dressings, and for use by caregivers. If you have trouble putting on your stockings, we have many donning aids that work much better, and compression wraps with velcro closures.
A balloon toe is a voluminous toe box. The opposite of a fitted toe. The extra fabric in the toe box gives your toes extra wiggle room. Many Allegro brand stockings have a balloon toe.
They all mean the same thing. There’s no difference between a compression stocking and a support stocking, except for the wording.
Yes. Both fabrics provide the same level of compression, the force pushing in on your legs. If you have mild swelling and/or venous insufficiency, most fabrics should work well for you. If you suffer from more severe edema (swelling), you may need a thicker fabric that offers better containment. If your stockings are creasing into your skin, that’s an indication that you need higher containment. In general, stockings made from thicker opaque fabrics are more durable than those made from the thinner sheer fabrics.
If properly care for, compression stockings should last between four and six months. Stockings made from sheer fabrics can develop snags and runs like regular sheer stockings, and can have a shorter life span. Keep the following factors in mind when estimating how long your hosiery should last:
- The most common reason for compression garments wearing out too quickly is when they are washed and dried carelessly – just thrown in with the regular wash – or not cleaned when needed. Washing and drying must be according to the manufacturer’s instructions which come with each pair. Don’t use high temperatures when washing or drying, and don’t machine-dry unless the stocking instructions specifically allow for it.
- Clean frequently enough to remove the natural perspiration, skin oils, skin acids, and skin flakes that the skin is always producing and shedding. Letting these substances remain in contact with the stocking fibers will weaken them and decrease the lifespan of the garment.
- When donning and removing the hosiery, don’t snag the stockings on jewelry, finger or toe nails, or rough surfaces. Long toe nails can tear or cause increased wear in the toe area.
- If worn with shoes that have worn or rough linings, or shoes that are too tight which rub against the stocking fabric, the lifespan of the garment will be decreased.
- Compression will gradually decrease over time so mark your calendar with a reminder of when you need to replace your stockings.
An open-toe stocking is one that is woven so that the toe area and the area about one or two inches behind the toe are not covered by the stocking – i.e., the toes and part of the foot remain bare. There is no therapeutic difference between the two styles. Occasionally your doctor may prescribe one style over the other, but usually it is just personal preference.
Compression hosiery has come a long way since the days when support stockings all looked clinical. You can now select fashionable sheer or very sheer hose in an array of attractive colors while still benefiting from compression levels ranging from the lower end (8-15mmHg) to the higher levels of compression (30-40mmHg). Men’s socks are now woven using techniques that make them indistinguishable from regular ribbed dress socks. Women’s trouser socks look like regular socks as well. Because of the advanced weaving technology now employed, most non-surgical types of compression hose do not have a clinical appearance.
Anti-embolism stockings, also called TED stockings, are used in hospitals for non-mobile patients. Doctors prescribe them for those patients who are still in recovery rooms or who are undergoing post-surgical treatment while still confined to a bed. TED stockings, in appearance, are made from white fabric and have an inspection opening just above the toes. TED compression is not graduated, but is at the same level (18mmHg) throughout the length of the garment.
Graduated compression hosiery is different because the hose are designed specifically for people who are capable of moving around – i.e., they are mobile. The hosiery provides more compressive pressure at the lower end of the garment and gradually decreases towards the upper end of the garment to help move fluids toward the torso. A moderate level of compression is 15-20mmHg. A high level of compression is 30-40mmHg.
It is advisable to wear a sleeve and glove/gauntlet from the same manufacturer. Some lymphedema garments have reduced compression at the wrist, so when worn together, they don’t cause a point of constriction. Colors vary slightly as well. A beige from one company, will not match the beige from another.
Gloves have fingers, gauntlets do not. The front edge of a gauntlet stops at the knuckles and does NOT provide any compression to the fingers. Gloves with fingers are sewn by hand from a flat weave fabric that’s also used to make custom stockings. They’re not woven like sleeves and some gauntlets. This limits your choice of color and makes them quite expensive.