A Comprehensive Guide to Compression Stockings

A Comprehensive Guide to Compression StockingsCompression stockings are often the first line of treatment for spider veins and varicose veins. This is because they can promote better blood flow through the legs by providing constant pressure, relieving swelling and other symptoms of vein problems without a more advanced form of treatment like sclerotherapy.

If you’ve been prescribed compression stockings for varicose veins or spider veins, learning more about how they work and the proper way to use them can help you get the most out of this conservative vein treatment.

How Do Compression Stockings Work?

Compression stockings come in various sizes, pressures and colors, but the basic concept behind them remains the same. Compression stockings put gentle, continuous pressure on the one-way valves in the leg veins. By making this pressure highest at the ankle and lowest near the knee, the stockings can promote blood flow back to the heart, counteracting the tendency of blood to pool in our leg veins due to gravity.

Because of this effect, compression stockings can help to relieve and prevent:

  • Swelling
  • Aching and heaviness
  • Blood clots, making them also useful for deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

Using Your Compression Stockings

To get the best results from your compression stockings, you should:

Get the right fit

Measurements of your legs can help to determine the proper fit of your stockings. If your stockings fit correctly, they should apply light, gentle pressure without any discomfort. This pressure should feel strongest near the ankles and lighter higher on your leg.

When you put your stockings on, start by rolling the top of the stocking down to the heel. Put your foot as far into the stocking as you can and unroll the stocking over your leg. To keep a comfortable fit, try to keep your stockings from bunching up or wrinkling.

If you’re having trouble getting your stockings on, applying a little baby powder to your legs can help. When you apply lotion to your legs, remember to let it dry before you put on your stockings.

Wear them all day

You should put your compression stockings on as soon as you get up in the morning. Swelling will be at its minimum when you first get out of bed, and this will make your stockings easier to put on. To be effective, your compression stockings will need to stay on all day long.

Compression stockings should not interfere with your daily tasks, and in the case of exercise, they may actually help. Though compression stockings were developed for medical purposes, they have become popular among runners and other athletes due the belief that compression gear can improve athletic endurance and recovery.

Care for them properly

Because you’ll be wearing your stockings all day, you’ll need to wash them frequently. Try to wash your stockings daily with soap and water, then rinse and let them air dry. If possible, it helps to have two pairs—this way, you can alternate by wearing one pair and washing the other. To maintain their effectiveness, your compression stockings should be replaced every three to six months.

If you have any questions about proper use and care of your compression stockings, speak with your vein specialist.

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