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Medical Compression Socks - Which Option Should You Choose?

Medical Compression Socks - Which Option Should You Choose?

Compression Socks and Stockings - How They Work

Before selecting a compression garment you need to understand what condition you are trying to treat, this will help you pick the style and compression level required.

How do Compression Stockings Work? 

Compression stockings contain elastic fibres that exert pressure on the legs. Unlike support stockings, they have been proven to be medically effective. They help to prevent tired and heavy legs, varicose veins and more severe venous diseases.

The pressure from the stockings assist your veins to resist backflow. Most compression stockings feature 'graduated compression'. Compression is highest at the ankle (100% compression garment grade), lower at the calf muscle belly (50-70% compression garment grade) and lowest at the thigh (20-50% compression garment grade). This graded compression encourages return blood flow to the heart and prevent pooling at the ankle/foot.

What is a Venous disorder?

Are conditions that damage the ability of your veins to be able to carry deoxygenated blood from your organs and tissues back to your heart.

The damage caused to your veins can result in either pooling of blood in the limb, or a blood clot.

There are different types of venous disorders and they can develop for many different reasons. Some of the more common disorders include:

  • Chronic venous insufficiency
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Superficial Phlebitis

Most people are familiar with what a blood clot is but you may not know the specific terms such as superficial phlebitis or DVT that describe if it is a superficial (close to the surface) or deep vein that has the blood clot.

You may also have heard of the terms varicose veins and spider vein: those are the visual signs of chronic venous insufficiency.  

What is Superficial Phlebitis and Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Phlebitis is an inflammation in a vein, that may cause a blood clot to form, usually in your leg. When it affects a vein close to your skin's surface, it's called superficial phlebitis. This can cause swelling and pain where the inflamed vein is located.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually in your legs. Deep vein thrombosis can cause leg pain or swelling but also can occur with no symptoms. It is a concern after surgery as DVT risk doesn’t end when patients leave the hospital—in fact, the risk can continue for 30 days or more after discharge.

What is Venous Insufficiency?

It is a problem with the return blood flow to the heart. Veins have valves that keep the blood moving in one direction, preventing backflow, while using muscle contractions to push the blood against gravity back to the heart. In venous insufficiency, the valves in the leg don’t work correctly which causes the venous pressure to increase. With an increase in venous pressure overtime, this can lead to problems like chronic venous insufficiency.

Important Note: Before you wear compression stockings we recommend contacting your physician to ensure you are screened for conditions that increase the risk of complications prior to use. Compression stockings may be used as a way of prevention for blood clots. In some cases you might have to avoid using compression if you already have a history of blood clots, or have an active blood clot.

Compression Socks & Stockings: How to Choose a Style & Compression Level

Compression stockings are available in different designs, colours and compression strengths. You can get models in your size or individually made to measure, depending on your needs.

#1 Pick a Style - Below Knee, Thigh High, Full Waist, Waist with Attachment:

Compression socks and stockings come in different lengths to cover different parts of your body, from just below the knee, thigh-high and full waist high tights. What style you need depends on where the affected area is on your body. If you have swelling only in your ankles, then a knee-high sock would be appropriate. If you have swelling on or above the knee, then a thigh high or waist high compression stocking would be required. 

There are a variety of stocking heights available, here some examples:

Below Knee

Thigh High

Waist High

Thigh High With Waist Attachment

Fitting Tip:

Measurements should be taken in the morning before swelling occurs to get a true representation of size. Also, stockings applied in the morning will prevent swelling and must fit properly before swelling develops. Stockings should feel snug, but not painfully tight. 

#2 Pick a Compression Level Based On What You Need The Garment For - Mild, Moderate, High:

Compression stockings have different levels of pressure, measured in mmHg. Mild compression is designed to keep you comfortable on your feet at work or improve performance during sports. You'll need higher compression with a firmer fit for venous disease or to prevent DVT (a type of blood clot called deep vein thrombosis).

Mild Compression (15 - 20 mmHg) - Use For Traveling, Work, Sports, Daily

When traveling, at work, or during sports and activity - light compression support and stockings can promote better blood flow and reduce swelling. This may help with improving physical performance, reducing soreness, and fatigue. Typical diagnosis for this compression type are for individuals with no visible signs of venous disorders, or spider veins.

Mild compression stockings are comfortable to wear and beneficial for your legs - regardless of the situation you can always find the best stocking to suit your needs. For mild compression, there is a higher elasticity component for added comfort so over the course of the day the garment has more “give” to the shape. Here are some examples of mild compression rated socks:

Bauerfeind Compression Sock Training:

Decrease muscle 'vibration' to reduce fatigue in the muscle. Mimics taping technique for extra ankle support and a protective zone for more comfort around the Achilles tendon.

Bauerfeind Compression Sock Performance:

Most recommended for endurance sports because it promotes good calf muscle refill. It has a higher elasticity context and a wide top band for more comfort. Additional features include more space at toes and moisture wicking fabric.

Bauerfeind VenoTrain Discretion:

The exceptionally fine material of these compression stockings gives them a stylish transparency and lightness.

More examples of 15-20 mmHg compression socks and stockings

Mild to Moderate Compression (20 - 30 mmHg) - Use For spider veins, varicose veins, swollen ankles

To minimize the risk of spider veins, varicose veins and swollen ankles moderate compression promotes blood circulation so that your legs still feel light even at the end of a long day. The mild to moderate compression options have a decrease in their elasticity component and an increase in working pressure. This means the garment has an increased ability to keep the same compression level over the course of the day. This is typically used for spider veins, varicose veins and imminent functional insufficiency. Here are some examples of moderate compression rated socks:

Bauerfeind VenoTrain Look:

A fashionable, sheer option.

Bauerfeind VenoTrain Micro:

Higher elasticity. Comes with pressure relief zones on foot and heel. Wider toes for less friction and available in an open toe design.

Bauerfeind VenoTrain Business:

Trouser sock offers a wide toe seam. Thicker material than the other available options. Holds shape as it has a higher working pressure compared to the VenoTrain Look and VenoTrain Micro.

More examples of 20-30 mmHg compression socks and stockings