The act of compression therapy isn’t new and began in the Neolithic period, evidenced in cave paintings where soldiers tightly bound their lower extremities. Compression hosiery has evolved in both method and materials since then.
Today, strong elastic and fibers come in an array of styles and colors to fit any lifestyle or wardrobe. The interwoven elastic threads compress your veins, arteries, and muscles beneath the surface of the skin. Compression therapy causes circulating blood to push through thinner channels, which increases arterial pressure. Therefore, more blood returns to the heart and less remains in your feet, where it can cause swelling and discomfort.
Conditions That Use Medical Compression Hosiery
Whether someone requires compression therapy is for the individual and his or her doctor or physical therapist to decide. Compression therapy doesn’t work for everyone and fit as well as other medical conditions can become major factors in their recommendation. Conditions that compression can help include:
- Venous leg ulcers are one such condition that compression can help to heal properly. They occur when the vein wall stretches and weakens to the point that the valves no longer close. This condition can cause edema, inflammation, and more.
- Edema restricts your blood flow. Wearing a compression stocking improves blood flow, lessens pooling blood at the feet, and recycles blood properly to the heart.
- Chronic venous insufficiency can occur due to aging. Its earliest appearance might be a sprinkling of spider veins. Compression hosiery can improve circulation and reduce the formation of new ones.
- Varicose veins are hereditary, although aging, pregnancy, obesity, and menopause can be factors, too. One non-invasive treatment is using compression hosiery to reduce leg swelling and improve circulation.
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is when a blood clot forms in a deep vein. A doctor will likely recommend medication and compression hosiery.
- Lymphedema is lymph fluid that accumulates in a body part. Compression garments can reduce the edema that affects the area as part of complete decongestive therapy (CDT).
- Phlebitis treatments vary on the severity of symptoms. Compression stockings can help blood flow, alleviate pain, and minimize swelling.
- Lipodermatosclerosis is inflammation of fat. Compression therapy is the leading treatment in making sure blood flow isn’t restricted.
- Pregnancy hormones can cause swelling that can lead to reduced circulation in the legs and varicose veins. Compression stockings can limit discomfort.
- Anti-embolism use is common post-surgery or for those with limited mobility. Compression hosiery improves blood flow and reduces other symptoms.
- Diabetics can see improvement in their blood circulation with compression socks or hosiery.
Only use compression hosiery under a doctor’s care, as wearing them can cause adverse reactions, such as: a peripheral obstructive artery disease, heart failure, septic phlebitis, oozing dermatitis, and advanced peripheral neuropathy.
Fitting Medical Compression Hosiery
Fit is a critical factor in finding a compression hosiery that works right for each individual. A doctor, nurse, or trained professional should perform a fitting by measuring a patient’s legs, especially if skin is broken because this could require an aseptic technique.
Manufacturers rate their compression or pressure by millimeter of mercury (mmHg). OTC support pressure ranges generally fall between 10-20 mmHg. Prescription pressure range is 20-50+ mmHg and custom, seamless fit ranges from 18-50 mmHg.
Styles of medical compression hosiery:
- Waist attachment or CHAPS
- Standard sock
Sigvaris products include OTC compression hosiery for light support and prescription strength a doctor can order and properly fit. The company makes stylish socks and hosiery but doesn’t sell direct to consumers. Interested individuals can find an authorized dealer from their website or purchase at an online retailer. Retail prices do vary, but they generally start at $27.99 and up.
Jobst offers multiple styles of compression legwear for men and women. Their thigh-high and knee-high styles start at $16.95 online, depending on the retailer.
Mediven styles come in both ready-to-wear compression hosiery and custom fit. They don’t sell directly, but their products are available through doctors, therapists, or online retailers. Prices and styles vary, but costs start around $21.00 for basic compression knee-high socks. Their Glamour series starts around $45.00.
Juzo has a range of men’s, women’s, and unisex compression wear available in multiple sock styles, thigh-high hosiery, leggings, and pantyhose. Their Signature series is comes in bright colors, prints, and tattoo-style sleeves. Dealer information is available on their website, or interested individuals can make purchases online at authorized retailers. Prices for their basic line start at $14.00 and up.
Curad’s compression thigh-high and knee-high socks come in white or black. The standard OTC socks have 15-20 mmHg. Major retailers sell them, like Walmart and Medline, but their prices do vary greatly; they generally start at $15.55 or more.
Nurse Mates is a popular brand for those requiring light support. Suitable for men and women, they come in standard sizes A-EE, compression is 15-20 mmHg, and prices start at $7.00 direct from their website. They frequently run sales, too.
Working together with a doctor or physical therapist to determine whether compression hosiery is the correct treatment option for a certain patient is the best way to ensure desired results. Never start any new type of treatment without first consulting a medical professional.