How to Pick the Right Compression Stockings?

Compression stockings and support hose come in a wide variety of styles and compression classes to accommodate a very broad range of leg issues and conditions.

Depending on the type of problems and symptoms an individual exhibits, there are several things to consider when selecting compression stockings.

In choosing the most suitable types and styles of compression hosiery, correct sizing and the best fit can be a challenge to say the least if you are a complete newbie to compression stockings.

Compression stockings can and should be worn equally by men and women because each gender obviously has the same types of legs and therefore experiences the same kinds of leg issues and problems.

Unfortunately in reality there still exists a fairly major acceptance and tolerance problem among certain rather narrow-minded members of society.  In our case, it is directed against men wearing compression hosiery.  Read more on this topic here…

Men Do Not Need Compression Stockings And Support Hose Or Do They?

Sadly, the fear of mockery or ridicule often results in men simply not wearing compression stockings or support hose when they should.  This in turn means that their leg vein symptoms and issues are often simply ignored.  They remain untreated until they turn into far worse conditions such as venous ulcers with serious skin and tissue damage that can be irreversible.

To give you a brief introduction on the vast subject of compression hosiery, we have selected some critical areas any future wearer should pay close attention to in order to get the maximum benefit from her or his compression stockings.


4 Important Considerations in Selecting Compression and Support Hosiery

  1. The compression strength of the compression hosiery
  2. The style or type of the compression stockings
  3. The sizing and fit of the compression stockings
  4. The wearability and patient follow through with regard to wearing compression stockings


1. How to Choose the Correct Compression Strength for Compression Stockings

In determining the correct compression strength for compression hosiery we can distinguish between two major groups of compression stocking users.

The first group would be comprised of individuals without any obvious symptoms that are wearing compression or support hosiery for purely preventative reasons or they may exhibit only occasionally very minor symptoms and are trying to prevent those from worsening.

Statistics show that an estimated one out of every three Americans above the age of 40 will eventually encounter vein related problems.  One way to put your odds in favor of the statistics would be to take preventative action.  If you don’t have any visible symptoms (such as spider veins or varicose veins) or noticeable aches and pains or swelling congratulate yourself.

Nevertheless, it may also be prudent to take some preventative measures such as wearing support stockings or support hosiery with graduated compression to literally give your legs some additional support and protection against the stresses and strains of daily living.

If you are wearing compression stockings or pantyhose to be proactive and to give your legs and feet an extra boost, in most cases a low compression level of 8-15 mmHg may just be what you need to keep your legs from becoming achy and tired feeling after a long day of walking, standing and sitting at your job.

Such low compression level stockings, pantyhose or support pantyhose can make your legs feel energized, massaged and help to optimize blood circulation throughout the day as you go about your business doing all the things you need to accomplish.

If you sometimes experience aching, heaviness and/or some swelling in the feet and ankles, your legs may even benefit from a little higher grade compression stockings or pantyhose in the compression range of 15-20 mmHg.

However – a word of caution – in any case before making any changes that could affect your health such as wearing compression stockings, be sure to discuss this with your physician first and get his recommendations on what would be most beneficial for your particular situation.

The second group includes patients who are experiencing more or less severe symptoms and signs of venous, lymphatic or other leg and foot related issues rather frequently or even on a daily basis.  In such cases, wearing compression stockings regularly may prove to be highly beneficial.  Compression stockings can often alleviate symptoms or at least prevent things from getting out of control.

If you are part of this group with ongoing symptoms and conditions affecting the venous and/or lymphatic system, your health care provider(s) will likely need to perform a thorough evaluation to make recommendations on what type and strength of compression stockings are best for you.  Compression stockings of compression levels higher than 20 mmHg are best prescribed by a physician, particularly if the patient is suffering from peripheral artery disease.


2. How to Choose the Style or Type of Compression Stockings that are Best for You

Individuals who like to or need to wear pantyhose (e.g. because of the dress code at their work) may find it an easy transition to replace their pantyhose with compression pantyhose or compression stockings, which is a special type of hosiery featuring graduated compression. 

Graduated compression is the built-in pressure that is exerted on the legs by the compression pantyhose or stockings.  It starts with the highest pressure level at the ankle area and lessens gradually as it goes up the leg being at its lowest in the area of the upper thigh.  Graduated compression and support hosiery can provide a multitude of positive effects and benefits for the well-being of our legs and feet.

It can for example help boost blood circulation through the veins back to the heart and lungs, it can prevent pooling of blood and the possible occurrence of blot clots in the leg veins, and it can force excess fluids out of the legs and alleviate pain and discomfort.

Compression stockings are available for men and women.  They can be purchased in a wide range of sizes, styles and compression strengths to accommodate a broad range of needs for their wearers.


3. Things to Consider for Proper Sizing and Fit of Compression Stockings

Proper sizing and fitting of compression stockings can be somewhat confusing to the first time wearer.  Luckily all manufacturers of compression stockings have their own sizing charts and they usually provide some helpful instructions on how to determine the correct size.  Some compression stocking sizes are more general based on shoe sizes while others require more precise measurements of the individual’s legs.

If you would like to go the easy route, contact your physician’s office, local pharmacy or medical supply store and make an appointment to be measured and fitted for the compression stockings your health care provider has prescribed for you.  It will be best to make the appointment early in the morning and have your legs measured before they have a chance to swell up.  Some or all of these places should have a certified fitter on staff or be able to refer you to one.  This certified fitter has been specially trained to take precise measurements of your legs to ensure that your compression stockings will fit you properly.  Based on the measurements the fitter will take on your legs, they can provide you with compression stockings that will fit perfectly and with the exact compression level as prescribed by your physician or vein specialist.

If by any chance your compression stockings feel painful or pinch in certain areas when you begin wearing them make sure they are situated correctly without wrinkles or folds because this could cause a tourniquet effect.  Compression stockings have to fit snug to do their job but not in a way where they restrict the blood flow.  If in doubt, go back to the place where you had them measured and fitted and have them double check the sizing and fit.


4. Wearability and Patient Follow Through with Regard to Compression Stockings

Historically compression stockings did not enjoy the most comfortable and welcoming image in the minds of many people.  They are still tarnished by visions of the dreadful appearance and rubber stocking like feel of their ancestors.  But have no worries, fast forwarding to the 21st century compression stockings have truly experienced a renaissance in both look and feel.

Today’s compression hosiery is knitted from highly advanced materials and fibers.  They come in popular colors and trendy runway designs that can most definitely rival their high fashion tights, stockings and pantyhose counterparts.

Incorporating colors, designs and more comfortable fibers certainly goes a long way in making compression stockings more attractive for their prospective wearers.  Shopping for compression stockings today is much like browsing for stockings or pantyhose in the hosiery department.  You want it; you got it – compression socks, stockings, thigh highs, tights or pantyhose in sheer or opaque, toeless or footless, color and/or designs.   Compared to less than a decade ago, the compression hosiery choices of our time are nothing short of amazing.

By design, compression stockings should fit the legs very tight yet not too tight.  Consequently they are not super easy to put on or take off, even more though if a person’s hand strength is compromised by arthritis or other debilitating illnesses.

To make this process less stressful bright minds have come up with numerous devices to assist with the donning and doffing of compression stockings.  Moreover, these donning and doffing devices also help to promote patient compliance and follow through in wearing compression stockings regularly.  Regularly means that compression stockings should be put on immediately before getting up in the morning and they should be removed before retiring to bed at night.


Individuals that are new to compression stockings may initially not like their tight fit, which can take some getting used to.  We have two tips for you to make this transition easier rather than giving up and not wearing them.

One option would be to start out wearing compression stockings or pantyhose with lower compression levels and gradually build up to the prescribed strength the doctor ordered.

If the individual has to wear a certain compression strength right from the start there is an option for this as well.  In this scenario, the compression stockings or hose could be worn for only a few hours at a time, if this is permissible, and gradually extend the time of wearing until they can be worn without difficulty for the entire day.


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