Graduated compression could be defined as the application of continuous and controlled pressure that gradually decreases over a predetermined length of a garment such as a stocking or pantyhose. Therefore graduated compression stockings must achieve a distinct and gradual reduction of the pressure that is being exerted on the leg from distal to proximal.
In other words the compression must be strongest at the ankle area from where it gradually decreases to just below the knee or up at the thigh area depending on the type and length of the stockings. Compression stockings are intentionally designed and manufactured this way to aid in pushing the blood back up the legs to the heart.
Graduated Compression applied by Compression Stockings
- Can bring relief from pain, fatigue and heaviness feelings in the legs
- Can reduce the diameter of enlarged veins and legs, which speeds up the return blood flow to the heart
- Can improve the “calf pump” performance (ability of the calf muscles to pump blood up the leg through contraction)
- Can increase the ability of still intact venous valves to function properly, preventing blood from flowing back down the legs
- Can prevent varicose veins
- Can prevent or significantly decrease swelling in the legs that otherwise can occur from pooling of blood and fluid
- Can prevent the occurrence or re-occurrence of leg ulcers.
The pressure a stocking applies to the leg(s) is specified as a compression value. The higher the compression number the more pressure is applied by the stockings. It is measured in mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or kPa (kilo Pascal). Support and compression stockings with lower pressure levels that are intended for preventive care purposes can be purchased over the counter or online without the requirement of a prescription. For medium and stronger compression stockings that may be recommended for more severe leg conditions you will need a prescription from your physician.
Important Note: If you have any medical concerns please always consult your physician for advice. Medical grade compression stockings you have been prescribed by your physician require that precise measurements of your legs are taken at the pharmacy or medical supply store prior to your purchase to ensure an exact fit.
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For more detailed info on compression and support stocking classifications click the following link to “A Closer Look At Compression Classifications”