Compression stockings are an important link in the prevention and treatment of circulatory problems. We have compiled a large information kit for you with our 25 years of experience. These instructions will help you to find the best compression stockings for you and teach you to use them correctly.
- Benefits of using compression stockings
- How compression stockings work
- Who compression stockings are for
- Selecting the right product
- Donning and wearing compression stockings
- Compression stocking as a medical product
- Compression stockings before and now
- Consult an experienced professional
Benefits of using compression stockings
The idea and effectiveness of compression stockings is based on their positive effect on the circulation. The right pressure and a properly made product with pressure that gradually lightens towards the knee increases circulation and prevents swelling of the legs. The external pressure provided by the stocking to the calf also activates the so-called calf muscle pump, which provides great benefit when walking. It helps to pump the blood back to the heart and lungs.
Because we put strain on our bodies more and more by statically standing and sitting a lot during the day, we put strain on our blood vessels and venous valves, which causes the pressure in the blood vessels to increase, the valves to become overloaded and blood to flow more slowly. The slow flow may cause blood clotting and formation of thromboses on the blood vessel walls. These clots may break off and block a blood vessel branch. At worst, the clot may travel all the way to the lungs, which would cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.
How compression stockings work
The principle of a compression stocking is simple. The stocking applies pressure to a tissue, such as the calf, allowing the functional valves in the blood vessels to receive support and function more effectively. Secretion of fluid from blood vessels into the interstitium is decreased and circulation is improved. At the same time, the calf muscle pump becomes more effective as we move.
Compression stockings effectively support the tissue and help the valves to close more tightly. Circulation is improved and the risk of varicose veins and blood clots is decreased.
The right kind of compression stocking is an effective way to prevent and treat circulatory problems without drugs that irritate your stomach and intestines. However, we are not saying that medication is useless! For example, in the treatment of heart failure, compression stockings are an important addition to the overall treatment.
This video provides a simple explanation of how a compression stocking works (in Finnish):
Who compression stockings are for
For people with circulatory problems in their legs, medical compression stockings provide very comprehensive treatment. Swelling, varicose veins, thromboses, blood clots and leg ulcers are common problems, and compression stockings play a significant role in their treatment. Compression stockings are also used in postoperative care after various operations and, for example, for the prevention of scarring caused by burns.
Healthy people who stand and sit a lot benefit from compression stockings that positively influence the circulation. Using compression stockings preventively and to treat minor ailments, such as tired and restless legs and the prevention of blood clots when traveling, has become increasingly popular.
Professionals in many occupations wear compression stockings regularly as a part of their work outfit. For example, doctors, nurses, restaurant workers, hairdressers, teachers and police officers.
During pregnancy, it is useful to wear compression stockings. Medical studies show that pregnancy is a significant risk factor in the development of varicose veins, for example.
Athletes and exercisers have noticed the positive effects of compression stockings. Today, compression stockings can be seen in the sporting community on both competitive athletes and exercisers.
Selecting the right product
Basically anyone who stands, sits or walks a lot, will benefit from wearing compression stockings. The knee high compression stocking is suitable for most of us.
|Compression class||Class 1 /||Class 2 /||Class 3 /|
|Prevention of circulatory problems||x|
|Treatment of swelling and varicose veins||x||x||(x)|
|Prevention of blood clots during travel||x||x|
For the prevention of circulatory problems, compression class 1 (15–21 mmHg) is a good choice. For example, Medisox by Napra is a good product line that is sufficient for treating early symptoms, such as tiredness, mild swelling and early varicose veins. This product line offers compression stockings for travelers, athletes, mothers, outdoor people and trendy fashion enthusiasts.
For the treatment of significant swelling and varicose veins, you can find suitable products in e.g. Juzo’s fine selection of compression stockings. Compression class 1 is enough for mild problems, but more extensive problems require compression class 2 (23–32 mmHg). These are normally recommended by doctors, and the products are selected by size. There are standard-sized products, but it is also possible to order personally made, custom-fitted products.
If you travel a lot or otherwise sit for extended periods and wish to prevent blood clots, our Medisox line is a good choice. If you are suffering from varicose veins or swelling or if you have previously had a blood clot, we recommend compression stockings in compression class 2, for example Juzo Soft or Juzo Dynamic.
Lymphatic swelling or a so-called edema requires a customized and functional compression product. Lymphatic therapists that treat these problems mainly use flat knit compression products customized for the customer. The compression must be high enough to prevent swelling. The Juzo Expert line is very popular with this customer group. Juzo Expert products can be custom-made in any model and according to any personal specifications, and they are very effective for e.g. lymphatic treatment.
The Medisox product family offers a wide range of compression stockings for various purposes:
Trendiness versus functionality
Can compression stockings be trendy? Of course! Today, you can find a wide variety of compression stockings that are both good-looking and effective. Some provide stronger compression than others, but they are all carefully made and functional.
Examples of thin women’s compression stockings:
Before getting lost in the world of colors, patterns and models, pay heed to these points:
- The stocking must be properly made. The pressure must be strongest around the ankle and gradually decrease towards the knee.
- The ribbing must not be too tight or constricting.
- There must be enough sizes to choose from, so that you can find the right size.
- The size of the ankle and calf (circumference), together with the shoe size, determine the size of the stocking.
- The pressure must be indicated in the label, for example 15–21 mmHg (compression class 1).
- The pressure must not be too strong, so that the circulation does not become obstructed.
Irrespective of whether the stocking is called a sport, support, compression or flight stocking, the label must provide the above mentioned information.
Donning and wearing compression stockings
Of course, everyone can try for themselves how it feels and how it works. Many people like the feeling of compression stockings right from the start, but others find it hard to put them on and get used to the pressure.
Getting used to compression stockings
- Make sure that you have a suitable compression stocking that fits you.
- Make sure that the compression stocking has the right pressure.
- Learn how to put the stocking on.
- Start wearing the stockings right in the morning.
- Wear the stockings for as long as you can on the first day and then take them off.
- Try to wear them slightly longer each following day.
Within a week, both you and your body will have gotten used to wearing compression stockings and the feeling of pressure.
If your legs are swollen, the fluid in your legs must return to your circulation and travel through the kidneys and out with urine. Therefore, it is normal that you will have to urinate more often during the first days of use.
The products’ packages usually provide good instructions on how to put the stocking on. Read the instructions and follow them to succeed. If you are using stockings in compression class 2 or stronger, open-toed stockings are usually easier to put on.
If the donning is still difficult, there are many good donning aids:
- Slip sock – comes with the package (with open-toed models)
- Donning glove – helps to get a better grip of the stocking
- Arion donning aids – for all kinds of stockings
- Other donning aids, such as the Juzo Easy Fit metal frame
Compression stockings can be worn all day, and normally people want to take them off when going to sleep. Ideally, wash the stockings every day to keep them elastic and soft. The cleaner the stockings, the longer they will last.
Compression stockings gradually lose effectiveness. After wearing your stockings for six months, it is time to get new ones. You are sure to notice the difference between the new and the old stockings: the new ones provide stronger pressure.
Can wearing compression stockings be dangerous?
There are only a few cases when compression stockings should not be used. People with poor or deficient circulation in the arterial system must not use compression stockings, but, otherwise, they are safe to use.
Compression stocking as a medical product
Circulatory problems in legs and arms
The most common causes for circulatory problems in limbs are the following:
- Static load when sitting, standing or walking a lot
- Prolonged sitting with bent knees or cross-legged
- Hereditary factors may contribute to the development of varicose veins, for example
- Pregnancy increases the risk of varicose veins as the fetus puts pressure on the large abdominal blood vessels
- Various heart and lung diseases may cause a swelling of the legs
- Side effects of certain antihypertensive medications
- Injuries caused by accidents
- Surgical operations where lymph nodes have been removed, for example, breast cancer surgery
- Physical inactivity due to osteoarthritis, rheumatism, illness or surgery
- Birth defects or post-inflammatory complications in lymph nodes, for example
The weaker the blood flow is, the higher the pressure is in the blood vessels. This leads to a bulging of the blood vessel walls, and the valves that are attached to the walls and normally help the circulation start to leak. This causes a vicious circle, where one thing leads to another.
Compression stockings before and now
“Rubber stockings” saved lives
It was not all that far back in time when compression stockings were only worn by elderly ladies with leg ulcers and varicose veins. The thick “rubber stockings” prescribed by doctors were unesthetic and smelled of rubber. Regardless, they were a functional form of medical treatment saving many people from various circulatory problems.
It all began in Central Europe at the start of the 20th century. “Rubber stockings” were manufactured and worn widely mostly in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Insurance companies in these countries reimbursed the costs of wearing the stockings, and the products were established as a part of medical treatment.
The expertise that developed in these countries gradually began to spread, and the medical use of these stockings began to also be recommended in other countries. When our company Napra-Rehab was founded in 1991, the benefits of compression stockings were not yet widely known in Finland. As the knowledge of health care staff increased, interest in this treatment method arose. Users began to demand more from both the properties and the appearance of the products. Manufacturers recognized this, and since then product development has been fantastically active, which has fortunately also led to increased knowledge.
Trends brought the stockings to supermarkets
By the 2010s, the ugly auntie stockings have transformed into hyper trendy fashion wear. Today, wearing compression stockings is in. People are becoming more and more informed about the benefits of compression stockings, and the models have become so stylish that anyone dares wear them.
Just a few years ago, the compression stocking business was largely dominated by companies in the health care industry. Unfortunately, growing interest and increasing sales have also activated some less reliable operators. Cheap versions of the product that was originally intended to be a medical product started to be sold. These products did not meet the manufacturing, quality or functionality requirements. Suddenly, compression stockings were sold in the most peculiar of places: grocery stores, sports shops, auto parts stores and, of course, online as well.
This has caused great confusion among consumers: Which product is the right one for me and meets my needs?
Unfortunately, the title “compression stocking” does not tell you everything that you ought to know as a consumer to be sure that you have the right product that meets your needs. Some common sense will take you a long way when choosing where to buy your compression stockings. If your doctor has recommended that you acquire compression stockings, department stores or auto parts stores are not the right place to buy them. In these cases, it is safest to turn to a company that operates in the medical and health care industry.
Consult an experienced professional
Napra-Rehab has over 25 years of experience in the field and a large network of partners and retailers around the country, from pharmacies to therapists and health care professionals. We are both educated and qualified to deal with your problems and also understand what is best for your needs. It is rewarding work to be able to help people take better care of the wellness of their legs. Our family business will continue the same way in the future.
Preston is our online store for consumers. Retailers, please visit www.napra.fi.