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Compression Stockings 101

What are Compression Stockings?

Compression stockings (also called compression hosiery) are designed to help promote circulation by improving blood flow and inhibiting coagulation in the legs. They are often prescribed to prevent, treat or slow the progression of certain conditions that affect circulation and the veins in the legs.

How Compression Stockings Work

Blood flows away from the heart through the arteries and returns to the heart through the veins. On the return trip from the lower extremities, blood is working against gravity, and there are a variety of conditions that can affect the body’s ability to properly transport blood back up the legs and to the heart.

Compression stockings are often used when a medical condition or injury prevents blood from flowing to the heart as well as it should. These stockings use a graduated compression that applies the most pressure around the ankles, which are the farthest from the heart, and gradually reduced pressure through the upper parts of the leg. This pressure creates a “natural pump” in the legs that helps to push the blood back to the heart when the wearer moves their legs. This “natural pump” prevents the pooling that leads to symptoms like aching, swelling and the feeling of heaviness. Different levels of compression are available depending on the needs of the patient.

Should I Wear Compression Stockings?

Compression therapy stockings, socks and hosiery use compression to treat circulation issues that contribute to blood clots as well as thrombosis disorders such as spider and varicose veins. They can also be used on sedentary patients to ease pains associated with prolonged immobilization and on patients before significant surgeries. Other conditions for which compression therapy may be prescribed are lymphedema and chronic venous insufficiency. They are also prescribed for alleviating the pain, swelling and circulation issues that often occur during pregnancy.

Compression Stocking Types and Sizing

Compression hosiery is available in different lengths depending on the needs of the wearer. Knee-length and thigh length are two popular types, and full stockings are also available. Getting the proper fit is essential to the effectiveness of compression stockings for an individual. Compression stockings are medically prescribed and should be fitted by a medical professional for each individual. Improperly fitted compression stockings may make problems worse. Many insurance carriers cover at least part of the cost of compression stockings when they are prescribed by a doctor.

These stockings come in varying degrees of pressure and can be worn with a variety of shoes, including diabetic footwear and comfort shoes. While compression stockings will not correct existing varicose and spider veins, it can halt their development and prevent the creation of new problem veins. These socks and stocking can also greatly reduce the risk of developing blood clots during long car trips and flights.

What to Consider Before Buying Compression Stockings

When you are considering compression therapy stockings, there are several factors to consider:

  1. The specific condition being treated: Are you treating against blood clots or varicose veins? What symptoms are most acute?
  2. Overall comfort: Is the stocking or sock comfortable enough to wear every day?
  3. Ease of movement: Does the stocking or sock allow for proper movement?

If the answer to any of the above is ‘No’ you may need to speak with your doctor again to find the right compression stockings for you.

Note: This information is not intended to supplement or replace advice from a medical professional, or to diagnose or treat any condition.

About MMAR Medical Group: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a wholesale distributor of comfort footwear and diabetic shoes as well as a wide selection of orthotic braces and supports. Please visit for more information.