Graduated Compression Stockings: What They Are, How They Work, and How to Take Care of Them

What are Compression Stockings and How Do They Work?

Compression stockings (also known as graduated compression stockings) are garments that apply progressively less pressure as you move up the limb towards the trunk. Thigh-length compression stockings, for example, will have a higher pressure at the ankle, a midpoint at the knee, and a lower pressure in the thigh.

Despite the word “stockings,” the term is also used to describe knee-length’socks,’ compression tights, and even arm compression garments.

Compression stockings are commonly used to treat a variety of ailments, including:

DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) is a blood clot that originates in a deep vein, generally in the leg. If a blood clot breaks free, it can move into the heart and lungs, blocking an artery. (This is referred to as a pulmonary embolism.)

Swollen superficial veins are known as varicose veins (veins that lie superficially, just under the skin). Although the condition is minor in clinical terms, it is ugly, appearing lumpy and dark blue or purple through the skin. They mainly affect the legs, especially the calf and, on rare occasions, the thigh. The exact reason is unknown, however it is most likely caused by broken vein valves that enable blood to flow backwards between heartbeats and pool (collect) in the veins, causing them to expand.

Oedema is the accumulation of fluid in the legs. It’s possible that it’s caused by heart failure and leg vein troubles. Fluid can build up in the legs during long airline rides or any other period when the legs are relatively stationary.

Venous leg ulcers are skin ulcers that commonly occur near the ankle. Problems with the valves in the leg veins induce them once again.

Stockings must be worn continuously throughout the day to be effective. Normally, they are removed before going to bed, but a doctor may recommend that them be worn at night if clinical factors indicate that it will be advantageous. It is normally recommended that they be removed for at least half an hour each day to allow the wearer to wash their legs and feet and check the health of their skin for sores or dryness, which can be decreased by using emulsifying lotions.

What are compression stockings and how do they work?

Compression stockings function by applying pressure to the limb’s veins. Movement of the limb muscles acts as a natural pump, constricting the veins and forcing the blood through. Blood is driven out of the limb and into the trunk thanks to the progressive pressure.

Compression stockings come in a variety of sizes, lengths, designs, and compression strengths. Although there is no international standard for compression, the lower the compression value, the lesser the strength. A class 1 stocking will have less compression than a class 3, however two class 1s from different manufacturers or different locations of the world may have varying compression strengths.

When travelling for an extended amount of time, the chance of developing Deep Vein Thrombosis increases.

When travelling for more than eight hours, low-pressure compression stockings (often known as “flight socks”) can assist to lower the risk of DVT and fluid build-up.

How to put on and take off compression stockings

Graduated compression stockings are tighter at the foot than they are higher up the leg, as previously stated. This makes them difficult to apply and remove, and some people find it impossible to do so without help.

On the market, there are a number of application aids ranging from simple slipperette devices to comprehensive leg aids and gloves.

Without the use of any aids other than a pair of gloves, as a general technique:

Turn the stocking inside out by inserting a hand into the heel pocket and turning it inside out. Carefully slip the foot into the foot portion and smooth the stocking over the heel, making sure the heel is centred in the heel pocket.
Bring the rest of the stocking over the heel and up around the ankle and calf – don’t tug the stocking up the leg; instead, softly massage it up with the palms of your hands.
Compression stockings come in a variety of lengths that fit the leg differently.

Stockings that are knee-high but don’t go all the way up to the knee.
Thigh-high stockings are worn by bringing the stocking over the thigh until the stocking border reaches the buttocks.
Bring the body part of the stockings up to the waist, making sure the seams run vertically up the front of the garment.
Compression stockings maintenance

Compression stockings may be used for several weeks, months, or even years, so they must be cared for and washed on a regular basis.

Wearing a spare set while the first set is being washed is quite useful.

The following are typical care instructions:

  • Every two to three days, machine or hand-wash the stockings in warm water at a maximum of 40 C. Do not wring the stockings as this will reduce their effectiveness.
  • Tumble-drying the stockings may cause the elastic to break down.
  • Smooth up any creases and never roll down your stockings while wearing them; this will reduce their performance and may block blood flow through your legs.
  • Keep ointments, oils, lanolin, and other similar substances away from the stockings because they can cause the elastic to deteriorate. Don’t sit or lie in bed for lengthy periods of time – this will aid the blood circulate through the legs. When sitting or lying down, take regular walks about the house and conduct simple foot and ankle exercises. When sitting or laying down, keep your legs uncrossed. has a large selection of high-quality socks & compression hosiery and application aids.



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