Are you suffering from painful, swollen legs? Do you spend long hours standing or sitting and you want to prevent the development of pain and swelling in your legs? Are you going to be spending a long time in bed while recovering from an injury, surgery, or illness, and you want to combat the risk of blood clots and varicose veins?
Whatever the case may be, you may be considering using compression socks. A special type of therapeutic hosiery, compression socks have proven to be beneficial for so many people. They help to combat pain, swelling, and discomfort that is often associated with standing and sitting for extended periods of time. They have also been proven to be an effective way to prevent blood clots and the serious health issues that they can cause. In order to reap the benefits that compression stockings can provide, however, you need to make sure that you’re wearing them properly, and that means that selecting the appropriate level of compression is an absolute must.
Compression socks come in a variety of compression levels. How do you know which one you need? Keep on reading for some handy tips that you can use to select the appropriate compression level for your unique needs.
Level of Compression
The primary benefit that compression socks provide is improving circulation by preventing blood from accumulating in the veins of the legs, feet, and ankles. This in turn helps to prevent the development of blood clots and swelling. The secret to the benefits that these stockings provide is the pressure that they place on the legs, ankles, and feet.
As mentioned, compression socks are available in a variety of compression levels. These levels are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), and they are classified by grade. There are four main compression levels, and as the mmHg numbers increase, the amount of compression increases. Generally speaking, low levels of compression provide enough support and comfort for those who stand on their feet for long periods of time or who are sitting for extended periods. Higher compression sock levels have been found to prevent the development of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT, blood clots that form in the deep veins, typically within the legs).
Compression stockings are categorized in ranges because the level of compression they offer is graduated. The higher the number, the more pressure the socks will place on the foot part of the hosiery, and the lower the number, the more pressure the sock will apply to the upper part of the stocking.
Compression Categories and What They Mean
The following is a brief breakdown of the different compression level categories and what those categories mean:
There’s also a fifth level of compression: 40 to 50 mmHg. This category of compression is so firm that they require a prescription and need to be specially fitted and made by a professional.
Compression sock levels 1 through 3 are classified as Medical Grade 1, while compression sock level 4 is classified as Medical Grade 2. The fifth compression level – 40 to 50 mmHg – is classified as Medical Grade 3.
Recommendations for Use for Each Compression Sock Level
The following is a rundown of the different uses that different categories of compression socks are recommended for.
Whether you have a pretty good idea about the level of compression socks you should use or you aren’t sure, consulting with a health care provider is always advisable. A doctor will be able to make an accurate diagnosis of the condition(s) you are experiencing and will be able to recommend the appropriate level of compression socks to best suit your unique needs.
Other Factors to Consider
While making sure that you select the appropriate compression level is important, there are other important factors that need to be considered, too. Here’s a look at some of those key factors that you’ll want to take into consideration – in addition to the compression level – when you’re selecting compression socks.