Anyone who has ever had a job that entailed sitting or standing in one place for long stretches of time would be familiar with the feeling of heavy feet at the day’s end. A long period of inactivity can result in poor circulation and blood pooling in the lower extremities. The same complaint can be heard from those suffering from varicose veins, and it can worsen if left untreated. Health care providers frequently recommend compression stockings to overcome the problem.
What Are Compression Stockings?
Leg compression stockings are exactly what they sound like – they exert pressure on the lower extremities by being tighter near the bottom of the leg. The pressure exerted encourages blood to “defy” gravity and travel back up the leg instead of pooling in the feet. They thus prevent swelling by forcing blood to go back upwards.
Medical compression stockings exert pressure beginning at the forefoot. Pressure decreases further up the leg where it is not required. These are prescribed for problems such as chronic vein insufficiency and deep vein thrombosis or as post-operative care following sclerotherapy. Non-medical grade compression stockings exert pressure at ankle level.
The idea for circulation stockings came about from a desire to treat aching feet and varicose veins. Since then, doctors have recommended them to people whose movement is restricted for long durations. For example, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a concern for frequent, long-haul travelers. Blood clots may form in the lower legs and travel through the circulatory system, lodging in the heart and potentially causing death. Poor circulation also means that a person is more susceptible to infections. This is true for diabetic individuals, who tend to suffer from stagnant circulation in the feet. For them, it is feasible to consider the use of medical compression hosiery in order to ensure good health.
Compression stockings are available in different lengths. There are compression knee highs, or those which double up as pantyhose. Thigh-high lengths are also available, and there are open-toed options for individuals who do not wear closed footwear. Aside from this, they are like normal socks and are available in numerous colors. Additionally, stockings can match different requirements, such as those for lymphedema and anti-embolism purposes.
Compression legwear only works as long as they are suited to your need. To this end, you should decide if you want a pair to prevent and treat aching legs or varicose veins, guard against DVT, as post-operative therapy, prevent swollen ankles if you’re pregnant, or to treat venous disorders such as lymphedema or post-thrombotic syndrome.
Stockings are also made with varying degrees of compression, namely light, therapeutic and medical grades. A graduated compression stocking set provides light, medium, and heavy compression, and their use depends on your conditions and your doctor’s diagnosis.
No one said it was easy working a 9 to 5 job, and contrary to popular belief, constant travel is not all glamour and fun. People experiencing either scenario are vulnerable to developing poor circulation. Additionally, individuals who are pregnant, diabetic or have had surgery may also be susceptible to the problem of blood pooling in the legs. As this condition may lead to further, more serious situations, it is always best to consult a physician to determine if compression stockings are the ideal solution.