What Level of Compression Socks Do I Need(mmHg pressure guide)

The compression sock levels depend on your condition and activities, whether it’s for a medical or a non-medical necessity. The thing with pressure socks is that it is created for specific purposes at every compression level. This is why wearing medical grade compression socks are unnecessary. However, if you prefer more substantial pressure socks, you may always consider talking to a health professional for this.

1. What Are the Different Compression Socks Grade

As mentioned, there are different levels for compression socks, and they also have different grades. The information may be a bit complicated, but visiting a healthcare professional will help you understand the crucial details about your condition.
Here is some basic knowledge of compression socks that you can refer to.

Pressure Chart

It is crucial to determine the compression socks pressure to address your need and condition. Wearing the wrong compression socks that do not meet the requirements may lead to medical complications.
There are classifications for compression socks which will differ with pressure level, availability, and use:
a.) Non-medical stockings – available online, medical supply stores and pharmacies
  • Light
  • Medium
b.) Medical Grade – by prescription of a health professional
  • Class 1
  • Class 2
  • Class 3
The measurement used in the pressure is mmHg which stands for milliliters of mercury — mm for milliliters, and the element symbol of mercury which is Hg. This is also the exact measurement used for blood pressure and intracranial pressure.

Light: 8 to 15 mmHg

  • Minor aches, swelling, and tired legs
  • For general purposes such as good blood circulation and muscle support
  • Ideal for people with diabetes with peripheral neuropathy
  • Appropriate for travel, sports, and pregnancy
  • Best for work that needs sitting or standing for long periods

Medium: 15 to 20 mmHg

  • Same uses as with the 8-15 mmHg compression
  • More support with tighter compression level
  • Ideal for minor to moderate swelling and painful legs.
  • Ideal for pregnancy preventing the growth of spider veins and varicose veins

Class 1 Firm: 20 to 30 mmHg

  • Ideal for nurses with varicose veins or swelling legs, athletes and with the need of mid-level compression.
  • Relief for the swelling of moderate to severe edema and lymphatic edema
  • Minor to moderate medical conditions
  • Treatment of orthostatic/postural hypotension, which is a form of low blood pressure
  • Post-surgical treatment of sclerotherapy and phlebectomy
  • Management of vein ulcers and an indication of post-thrombotic syndrome (pts)
  • Relieves and alleviates moderate to severe varicose veins

Class 2 X-Firm: 30 to 40 mmHg

  • Same uses as with the 20-30 mmHg compression socks
  • Alleviates and prevents severe varicose veins
  • Prevention of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Therapy treatment for orthopedic surgeries and bone fractures
  • Management of venous ulcers and post-thrombotic syndrome (pts)

Class 3 XX-Firm: 40 to 50 mmHg

  • Highest level of compression
  • Partial treatment of chronic venous insufficiency
  • Treatments of severe post-thrombotic syndrome and DVT
  • Wound management

2. What Compression Level To Use

Wearing compression socks, stockings, or sleeves would really depend on either your activity or medical condition. Not all pressure socks can be worn for daily use, DVT, and even for therapeutic purposes.
For daily use, such as support for running, long walks, pregnancy without complications, you may use non-medical grade compression hosiery which are low pressure compression socks (8 to 15 mmHg). But if that compression level isn’t really doing much for you, you may opt for the Class 2 compression socks (15 to 20 mmHg), which can provide a more substantial pressure at your lower extremities.
If you are dealing with venous problems or just seeing signs of it, there are also appropriate pressure socks for you. The perfect compression stockings pressure for varicose veins and spider veins is between medium and class 1.
Now, you may buy an over-the-counter compression stocking depending again on the severity of your venous problems. If your varicose veins are causing you pain, you may need to see a doctor to assess your condition so you can be prescribed with the correct pressure of compression socks.
Compression socks also have a uniform and graduated pressure. The uniform support socks have a steady pressure throughout the length of the socks while graduated socks or stockings are tightest at the ankle and gradually loosens upwards, thus the idea of gradient pressure.
Anti-embolism and medical grade graduated socks can only be worn with a doctor’s prescription and supervision because they may cause medical risk if used like a non medical grade socks. It may cause improper blood circulation, which may result in severe blood clotting.

3. In summary

Determining which level of compression socks you need will always depend on your activities and medical condition. As self-medication is not encouraged, immediately acquiring medical-grade compression socks is not a wise thing to do as well.
Even if you buy over-the-counter compression socks with the lightest pressure, this may not help your condition, especially if you are experiencing pain in your legs. Remember, always consult your doctor.

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