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.
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. The controlled pressure placed on the veins prevents fluid from accumulating and helps the blood to flow upward back to the heart. Different levels of compression are available depending on the needs of the patient.
Compression stockings are often recommended for patients with certain circulation related conditions, or to help with leg circulation after a medical procedure or surgery. Compression therapy may be recommended for a range of conditions from the treatment of tired, achy legs to the prevention of more serious conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). 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 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 carries cover at least part of the cost of compression stockings when they are prescribed by a doctor.
Note: This information is not intended to supplement or replace advice from a medical professional, or to diagnose or treat any condition.
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