Types of Compression Socks: What Type of Compression Socks Do I Need?

Not all compression legwear is created equal. For every type and compression level, there is intended use. Not every patient can wear over-the-counter compression socks, and not every athlete can wear graduated compression sleeves.
There are different types and grades of compression socks, stockings, and sleeves. And figuring out which one to use should be determined first before buying several pairs. There are also different fabrics, heights, and designs to choose from.

1. Who Can Wear Compression Socks

The use of compression stockings is perfect for individuals who need support on their legs and to encourage blood circulation, especially after a medical intervention such as:
  • Post venous treatment such as scleropathy
  • After delivery from pregnancy
  • Post-surgery. For patients who would remain bedridden for long periods
  • Bone fractures and injuries
And they are also ideal for non-medical reasons such as:
  • Sports
  • Workout
  • Travel
  • Pregnancy
  • Work-related
  • Elderlies
For non-medical purposes, individuals can wear compression stockings for tired and achy feet and legs and relief of swelling. The primary goal is also to encourage good circulation to alleviate these symptoms.

2. Compression Socks 101

Before going any further, let’s discuss how compression legwear works and how it helps the lower extremities to get their function back.
Basically, compression socks or stockings help blood circulation by applying the proper amount of pressure on the legs’ muscle tissues. As the tissues get squeezed, it applies tension to the blood vessels. This then helps the blood travel accordingly through the blood vessels in the legs and back to the heart.
But as this process happens, it addresses several problems
  • Lessens the leakage coming from the capillaries.
  • Minimizes the potential of superficial veins from dilating, which may cause blood to disrupt the blood circulation
  • Escalates fluid absorption of capillaries and lymphatic vessels
  • Reduces swelling when sitting and standing for long hours
  • Avoids the risk of blood pooling which results in clotting
  • Relieves symptoms of venous problems such as varicose and spider veins, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and vein ulcers

3. Types and grades of compression socks

There are three types of compression socks, stockings, and sleeves. It’s either for medical or non medical use. And for every type, it’s intended for certain uses and / or treatments.
Here’s the differentiation for each types of compression socks:

Non-medical support hosiery

Anywhere between 8 to 20 mmHg.
Flight socks, elastic support stockings
  • Prescription is unnecessary
  • Mild to moderate support
  • It can be bought over the counter at pharmacies, drugstores, online and medical supplies shop
  • It can be worn for menial or heavy activities

Medical compression socks

Anywhere between 20 to 50 mmHg
A health professional can prescribe two types of medical compression socks. These types of compression legwear are in the pressure level of 20 to 50 mmHg, and they are also available in different styles
  • Knee-high
  • Thigh-high
  • Pantyhose or Maternity stockings
a.) Graduated Compression extra firm support
  • Prescription is needed
  • A foot specialist may be required for proper fitting
  • The level of compression is tightest at the ankles and gradually loosens upward
  • For the treatment of edema and chronic venous disease
  • For preventive measures, treatment, and therapy for a wide range of conditions
  • Long term use
b.) Anti Embolism firm support
  • Prescription is needed
  • A foot specialist may be required for proper fitting
  • Graduated level of compression with a lighter pressure
  • TED hose (Thrombo Embolus Deterrent)
  • Inhibits the risk of DVT and VTE (Venous Thrombo Embolism)
  • For preventive measure of bedridden patients due to surgery or operation
  • Designed for ambulatory or immobile individuals
  • For short term use only

4. Key Takeaway

Knowing all this information about compression legwear may be confusing, but you don’t have to worry. The differences can be determined by a health professional when it comes to medical compression socks.
If you need non-medical compression socks, all you have to do is buy them online or over the counter, and the essential information is already included in the packaging. All that is needed is strictly follow the instructions, and you will be good to go.
Just a disclaimer, all information stated here is for basic FYI only. It would always be safe to consider medical advice from doctors.

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