How to Measure for Compression Socks

If you suffer from swollen, painful legs (a medical condition known as “edema”), no matter the cause, you may be thinking about giving compression socks a try. So many people have found relief from their edema, thanks to compression socks. In order to take advantage of the benefits that they can provide, however, making sure that they fit properly is absolutely imperative.

Compression socks are available in a wide variety of size and compression levels. As such, finding a pair that fits properly can be a bit of a challenge, as you need to have a firm understanding about the different sizes and compression levels. There’s also the process of measuring the different compression socks sizes, which can be tricky, too, as there are several factors that can affect the measurements, such as the sizes and brands.

In an effort to clear up any confusion that you may have and to help ensure you measure properly and find an appropriate size, here’s a look at some tips that you can use to make the process a bit easier so that you can take advantage of the benefits that compression socks can provide. We also cover invaluable information, such as the different compression levels so that you can determine which pair and size will work best for you, as well as compression measuring guides, why it’s so important to take measurements, and even some of the issues that may occur during the process of measuring and selecting compression stockings.

How to Measure for Compression Socks?

Compression Levels: An Overview

Compression socks are available in a variety of different compression levels, and these different levels can make it hard to select the right type of socks for your needs. Why? – Because the compression levels are described in different numbers, and those numbers illustrate the amount of compression the fabric the socks are made of provide.

Standard compression levels for this therapeutic hosiery are 15 to 20 mmHg (sold over the counter), 20 to 30 mmHg (medical class 1 compression socks), 30 to 40 mmHg (medical class 2 compression socks), and 40 to 50 mmHg (medical class 3 compression socks). You may find other compression levels, too; however, the aforementioned levels are the most commonly used.

Which compression level is the right one for your needs? Let’s take a look.

  • 8 to 15 mmHg. This compression level is extremely light and is best for minimal swelling or swelling that occurs on occasion. If you spend a lot of time standing, this level may also be helpful.
  • 15 to 20 mmHg. Compression socks that offer this level of compression is still considered light, but is a tad firmer. Socks of this level are best suited for those who are looking to minimize swelling and who want to prevent the development of blood clots while they are traveling or while lying in bed after recovering from surgery. It can also be beneficial during pregnancy, as it helps to reduce the risk of swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet.
  • 20 to 30 mmHg. Compression socks that offer this level of compression are considered mid-range, and they’re ideal for those who suffer from moderate swelling that’s associated with intense aching and tiredness. Health care professionals commonly recommend this compression level for those who suffer from moderate edema during pregnancy or as a result of varicose veins.
  • 30 to 40 mmHg. Those who suffer from severe swelling in their legs, ankles, and feet may find this level of compression socks the most effective. This compression level is effective for combatting intense swelling and varicose veins.
  • 40 to 50 mmHg. Of all the different compression socks, 40 to 50 mmHg is the firmest level. Typically, this level requires a prescription from a health care professional and they should be used under a doctor’s supervision.

Even if the swelling and pain you are experiencing in your legs, ankles, and/or feet is mild, consulting with your doctor is certainly advisable. A health care professional will be able to provide you with an accurate diagnosis, will be able to confirm whether or not compression socks are the right option for you, and if so, what compression level would best suit your needs.

How to Measure for Compression Socks?

How Tight Should Compression Stockings Be?

The compression level that compression stockings provide is illustrated in millimeters of mercury (that’s what the “mmHg” indicates). The stockings should fit snugly; they shouldn’t be loose, but they shouldn’t be too tight, either. If your skin is delicate and thin, you have nerve pain, if you experience coldness and/or tingling in your legs and/or feet, or if you have tried compression socks and you feel as if your skin is being pinched, you may want to try a lighter compression level.

It is very important to note that if your compression stockings feel extremely tight and uncomfortable, don’t attempt to push through the discomfort. Instead, switch to a lighter compression level. If the socks are too tight, they could end up doing more harm than good; for example, they could cut off your circulation or damage your skin.

Measuring for Compression Socks

Measure in the morning, right after you awaken, when the swelling is minimal, and use the following tips to take your measurements:

  • Use a non-toxic marker to place a mark on your ankle, thigh, or calf.
  • Measure from the marked point on your leg and jot down the measurement.
  • Measure the circumference of the thinnest point of your ankle. Jot down the measurement.
  • Measure the circumference of the largest part of your calf, and write down the measurement.
  • Measure the length of your leg from the surface to the point where it bends at your knee. This measurement is very important to ensure they are comfortable and yield effective results.
  • For thigh-high compression socks, measure the length of your thigh and the circumference of your leg. Next, follow the above-mentioned steps.
  • Measure the length of your leg from the surface to the top of the thigh. Write down the measurement and compare the dimensions with applicable sizing charge.

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