What are compression socks/stockings?
When your muscles contract, they help to push fluid up the leg. Sometimes when someone works a sedentary job or is constantly on their feet, these muscle contractions are not strong enough or often enough. This can result in swelling due to fluid retention in the leg. While this is generally not considered a medical condition or disease process, swelling and pain resulting from this retention can be prevented using compression socks/stockings.
Similarly, if veins in the legs are not working optimally, blood may pool in the legs resulting in symptoms like swelling, achiness or tiredness in the legs. Compression socks/stockings can help by preventing venous pooling in the legs/feet.
Compression socks come in various lengths and are designed to compress the legs with graduated compression. This means that the strongest compression occurs at the ankle and gradually decreases as it goes up the leg. By helping the body move blood and fluid up the leg against gravity, compression socks can allow for better blood circulation, providing relief of tired, achy legs and decrease the amount of possible ongoing swelling.
Compression Socks Can Help With:
- Heavy feeling legs or swelling and leg pain
- Poor blood circulation
- Spider veins and varicose veins
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot)
- Lymphedema (swelling due to a problem with your lymphatic system)
- Skin conditions (such as dermatitis or eczema)
- Pregnancy related edema
- Orthostatic hypotension
Benefits Of Compression Socks
Compression socks have numerous benefits and can be helpful to a wide variety of people. Compression socks can be used as a preventative treatment for those who spend all day on their feet or work a sedentary job. They can also be beneficial for those on long haul flights to reduce swelling and increase circulation.
Other benefits of compression socks include:
- Helping to lessen the pain caused by varicose veins
- Helping to prevent venous ulcers
- Reducing orthostatic hypotension, which causes lightheadedness or unsteadiness when you stand
- Supporting veins
- Decreasing swelling in the legs and ankles
- Boosting circulation in your legs
- Assisting with recovery from sport/exercise
Will my insurance cover compression socks?
Many insurances do cover compression socks; check with your insurance to see if you’re covered and to determine if you have any coverage restrictions. NHRC does not do direct billing to insurance companies for compression socks.
Do I need a referral?
No, a referral is not necessary to come in for a compression sock appointment! In some cases though, insurance companies may require a prescription so check with your insurance company before coming in for your appointment.
What is the difference in compression levels?
The higher the compression level or compression strength, the tighter the compression stocking. Compression levels are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), the same scale used to take your blood pressure. The most beneficial compression socks have graduated compression as opposed to being uniform in strength. Graduated compression socks provide more compression at the ankle and decrease as they go up which helps to push blood back up toward the heart, aiding in circulation. Compression stockings usually apply 100% of their strength at the ankle, about 70% of their strength at the calf, and 30% of their strength at the thigh. Medical grade compression (which is typically what insurance companies cover) is a minimum of 30mmHG.
How do I know what level of compression is right for me?
There are many levels of compression that socks/stockings come in and they are all for different purposes. Many people find that wearing a lower level of compression is great as a daily sock. You don’t need to have any conditions to wear compression socks on a daily basis! Some work better than others depending on the situation. Just because 30-40 mmHg is a higher level of compression than a 15-20 mmHg doesn’t mean that it’s more effective for you.
Socks at the 15-20 mmHg level represent a low level of compression. These socks are perfect for air travel or for supporting your legs if you stand or sit for long periods of time. The 20-30 mmHg, 30-40 mmHg and 40-50 mmHg levels of compression are stronger and have more sizing, style, and material options.
If you’re not sure what level of compression to choose, always consult your doctor or medical professional.
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