Compression Garments

What Are Compression Stockings? 

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Compression Stockings, or Compression Hosiery Therapy, are stockings and socks designed to increase blood circulation. They are made using elastic fibers or rubber. They put pressure on the lower leg and foot, and, in some cases, the thigh, to improve circulatory problems such as edema, phlebitis and thrombosis. They also counter the effects of hypertension. The stockings are tightest at the ankles and gradually become less constrictive towards the knees and thighs.

Compression stockings are offered in different levels of compression. The unit of measurement used to classify the pressure of the stockings is mmHg. They are often available in one of the following pressure ranges:

Support/Over-the-counter

  • 10-15 mmHg
  • 15-20 mmHg

With the advice or prescription of a physician or medical professional and proper sizing from a trained fitter:

  • 20-30 mmHg
  • 30-40 mmHg
  • 40-50 mmHg
  • 50+ mmHg

How it Helps

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Compression is the exertion of force or pressure on a body from distal to proximal. Compression stockings have the highest gradient at the ankle with it slowly decreasing up toward the knee or thigh. This pressure physically reduces the circumference of the limb and superficial veins. This decreases the size of the veins which causes the blood to flow faster. This decrease in vein size also helps to improve the function of the valves by moving the valve cusps to a correct overlapping position. As a result, the arterial pressure is increased which causes more blood to return to the heart and less blood to pool in the feet.

Compression stockings can also help to improve the action of the calf muscles and helps to increase venous blood flow.

Benefits of Compression Garments

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  • Useful for people who have to stand for long periods.
  • Aids those with poor circulation.
  • Help prevent deep vein thrombosis and reduces swelling.
  • Used by some athletes to enhance performance.
  • Come in varying degrees of compression.

pt Health offers a wide range of quality compression garments with stylish colours, styles and sizes. Covered by most insurance plans.

Common Questions

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People with the following symptoms or conditions should consider using Compression Hosiery Therapy.

  • Varicose veins
  • Diabetes
  • Smokers (Risk of venous disease)
  • Obesity
  • Expectant mothers
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • People with a history of a deep vein thrombosis
  • Phlebitis/Thrombophlebitis
  • Venous ulcers 

  • Control edema.
  • Decrease leg discomfort.
  • Resolution of dermatitis.
  • Softening of fibrotic tissue.
  • Healing of ulcers.
  • Increase in energy and activity.
  • Return to regular activities of daily living.

Anti-embolism stockings are designed specifically for bed bound (non-ambulatory) patients to help prevent blood from pooling in the veins of the leg. Pooling of blood in the veins of the leg may contribute to blood clots forming in the veins. They are generally meant to be worn for shorter periods of time, such as during hospitalization. If you require more compression therapy following your discharge from the hospital, this is when you would begin to wear compression hosiery. In most cases, compression hose are worn by patients who are ambulatory.

Coverage Options

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pt Health therapy services are covered by most extended health insurance companies and in some cases Veterans Affairs and Medicare – such as OHIP (Ontario), Alberta Health Care and Medical Service Plan MSP (British Columbia). Not sure if you’re covered? No problem. We can help you find out (and usually within the hour). Just call us toll free at 1-866-749-7461.

At pt Health we believe your health should come first. We take care of the paperwork so you can focus on getting better, plus we offer direct insurance billing, saving you time and up front costs.

Learn More About pt Health Coverage Options

Research

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Compression hosiery in the prevention and treatment of venous leg ulcers, Sue Johnson, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Wound Care.

Summary: Graduated compression hosiery is the recognized gold standard for the treatment of venous ulcers, usually in the form of four-layer bandaging. Unfortunately with some patients the bulkiness of the bandages leads to non-compliance. An alternative to bandaging could be the use of below-knee graduated compression hosiery. This article will review the purpose and function of compression hosiery including details of patient assessment, measurement and compliance issues. It will provide the basic principles that should enable nurses to successfully treat patients with venous ulceration using compression hosiery. Link to article

COMPRESSION GARMENTS AND RECOVERY FROMECCENTRIC EXERCISE:

A 31P-MRS STUDY Michael I. Trenell 1, Kieron B. Rooney 2, Carolyn M. Sue 1 and Campbell H. Thompson 3

1 Department of Neurogenetics, Kolling Institute for Medical Research, Sydney, Australia

2 Exercise and Sports Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

3 Department of General Medicine, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia Received: 28 November 2005 / Accepted: 31 January 2006 / Published (online): 01 March 2006

Summary: The low oxidative demand and muscular adaptations accompanying eccentric exercise hold benefits for both healthy and clinical populations. Compression garments have been suggested to reduce muscle damage and maintain muscle function. This study investigated whether compression garments could benefit metabolic recovery from eccentric exercise. Following 30-min of downhill walking participants wore compression garments on one leg (COMP),the other leg was used as an internal, untreated control (CONT). The muscle metabolites phosphomonoester (PME), phosphodiester (PDE), phosphocreatine (PCr), inorganic phosphate (Pi) and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) were evaluated at baseline, 1-h and 48-h after eccentric exercise using 31P-magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Subjective reports of muscle soreness were recorded at all time points. The pressure of the garment against the thigh was assessed at 1-h and 48-h following exercise. There was a significant increase in perceived muscle soreness from baseline in both the control (CONT) and compression (COMP) leg at 1-h and 48-h following eccentric exercise (p < 0.05). Relative to baseline, both CONT and COMP showed reduced pH at 1-h (p < 0.05). There was no difference between CONT and COMP pH at 1-h. COMP legs exhibited significantly (p < 0.05) elevated skeletal muscle PDE 1-h following exercise. There was no significant change in PCr/Pi, Mg2+ or PME at any time point or between CONT and COMP legs. Eccentric exercise causes disruption of pH control in skeletal muscle but does not cause disruption to cellular control of free energy. Compression garments may alter potential indices of the repair processes accompanying structural damage to the skeletal muscle following eccentric exercise allowing a faster cellular repair. Link to article

Effectiveness of thigh-length graduated compression stockings to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis after stroke (CLOTS trial 1): a multicentre, randomised controlled trial

The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9679, Pages 1958 – 1965, 6 June 2009 Published Online: 27 May 2009 Summary: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism are common after stroke. In small trials of patients undergoing surgery, graduated compression stockings (GCS) reduce the risk of DVT. National stroke guidelines extrapolating from these trials recommend their use in patients with stroke despite insufficient evidence. We assessed the effectiveness of thigh-length GCS to reduce DVT after stroke. Link to article

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