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Posts Tagged ‘Compression Stockings’

What are Support Hose?

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
Support hose (also known as compression stockings) are designed to deliver a squeezing to the leg that is greatest at the foot and ankle. The degree of squeezing or compression gradually decreases up the leg – this is called gradient compression and is measured in mmHg (millimeters of mercury). Support hose provide two main benefits. Compression reduces and helps prevent swelling, also called edema. And compression helps the blood to flow more quickly up the leg toward the heart. Please consult your physician, podiatrist or health care specialist before purchasing support hose, especially for compression of 20mmHg or greater.

Support hose range from light compression (generally 8-15mmHg) to firm compression (generally 30-40mmHg).

Common Indications (there are other indications as well, please consult your physician):

Tired, Aching Legs – Standing or sitting for long periods of time can cause blood to pool at the ankles and have a hard time returning causing legs to ache and feel tired.
8-15mmHg compression stockings give a gentle squeeze at the ankles and up the leg to get your blood flowing back toward the heart. Helps relieve the tired, aching feeling in your legs.

Swelling/Edema – Enlarged ankles/calves/feet. Painless swelling may be caused from medications, injury, vein problems, heart problems or other reasons. Prolonged swelling or painful swelling of the foot or leg should not be ignored and your physician should always be consulted. Mild swelling is often managed with 15-20mmHg of compression. Moderate or severe swelling may require higher compression and your physician should be consulted.

Varicose Veins – Varicose veins can be mild to severe. They are caused from pooling of blood in a damaged vein. Symptoms include bulging veins, aching and discomfort in the leg, heaviness of the leg and/or inflammation of superficial veins. 20-30 mmHg is the most commonly used level of compression for varicose veins. The compression level that is best for you will depend on the severity of your symptoms and you should consult your physician before wearing compression 20 mmHg and greater.

Venous Insufficiency - Damaged valves in the veins can cause blood to pool in the leg and lead to swelling and pain. This condition is called chronic venous insufficiency which can lead to skin damage and leg ulcers. Symptoms include varicose veins, daily swelling of the leg, skin color changes, especially around and above the ankles, and fragile skin that easily breaks down. Compression of 30-40mmHg (generally knee length) is the most commonly used to manage this condition. Consult your physician before wearing any compression 20 mmHg and greater.


Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which a blood clot (known as a thrombus) forms in a vein that is deep inside the body. A complication of DVT, pulmonary embolism (PE), can occur when a blood clot breaks loose and moves into the lungs, where it blocks circulation to these vital organs, creating a life-threatening condition. With early treatment, people with DVT can reduce their chances of developing a life threatening pulmonary embolism to less than one percent.

Risk Factors:

  • Previous DVT or family history of DVT
  • Immobility, such as bed rest or sitting for long periods of time in a car or plane
  • Recent surgery
  • Above the age of 40
  • Hormone therapy or oral contraceptives
  • Pregnancy or post-partum
  • Previous or current cancer
  • Limb trauma and/or orthopedic procedures
  • Coagulation abnormalities
  • Obesity


  • Changes in skin color (redness) in a leg
  • Increased warmth in the leg
  • Leg or calf pain or tenderness
  • Swelling (edema) of the leg
  • Surface veins become more visible
  • Leg fatigue


  • Compression stockings or support hose are routinely used
  • Surgery patients are out of bed walking (ambulatory) earlier
  • Low dose heparin therapy (anticoagulation therapy) is being used

As is the case with most medical illnesses, prevention is of prime importance. Understanding the risk factors and minimizing these risks is key to deep vein thrombosis prevention. Also, recognizing symptoms early is the key to quicker treatment thereby reducing the risk for developing a more serious problem such as a PE.

Venous Insufficiency

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Veins are the blood vessels in your legs that help bring blood back to the heart. When the leg veins can not longer pump hard enough to bring the blood back to the heart a person can develop chronic venous insufficiency. When you are sitting or standing up, the blood in your leg veins must go against gravity to return to your heart. To accomplish this, your leg muscles squeeze the veins of your legs and feet to help move blood back to your heart while one-way valves in your veins keep blood flowing toward the heart. When your leg muscles relax, these valves inside your veins close which prevents blood from going back down the legs. Over time, the walls of the veins can weaken and the valves can become damaged which cause chronic venous insufficiency.

Symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency include aching or cramping in legs, itching, pain in legs gets worse when standing and better when legs are raised, swelling of legs and feet. Other signs may include redness of legs and ankles, skin changes – usually a darkening or redening – around the ankles, and wounds or ulcers on the lower leg and ankles.

Chronic venous insufficiency generally affects women over 50. Some of the causes of chronic venous insufficiency include high blood pressure, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and phlebitis. There are other factors as well that can contribute to developing chronic venous insufficiency. These factors include a family history of venous insufficiency, obesity, smoking, pregnancy, as well as prolonged standing or inactivity and lack of exercise.

There are many several ways to treat chronic venous insuffiency. Compression stockings or support hose may be recommended for milder cases. Support or compression stockings are elastic hose that squeeze the veins and prevent the blood from flowing backwards. Sometimes sores on the legs can develop from chronic venous insufficiency, called venous or stasis wounds, that can be in part treated with compression stockings. For more serious cases, sclerotherapy or surgical procedures can be used to treat chronic venous insufficiency.

Swollen Feet, Ankles and Legs – Venous Insufficiency?

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Venous Insufficiency

The blood vessels that bring blood from the heart to the rest of the body are called arteries and the blood vessels that return blood back to the heart are called veins. Venous insufficiency occurs when the leg veins cannot pump enough blood back to the heart.

In the upright position, blood in the leg veins must go against gravity to return to the heart. To accomplish this, the leg muscles squeeze the veins in the legs and feet to help move blood back to the heart. One-way valves in the veins keep blood flowing in the right direction. When leg muscles relax, the valves inside the veins close.

Some of the more common causes of venous insufficiency include high blood pressure, deep vein thrombosis and phlebitis.

The symptoms of venous insufficiency include swollen ankles and legs as well as the feet. The legs may feel heavy, tired, restless, or achy. Pain while walking or shortly after stopping may also be associated with venous insufficiency. Varicose veins, which are swollen, twisted veins that you can see through the skin, may also develop.

For mild cases of venous insufficiency, a physician may recommend support hose. Support hose (also known as compression stockings) are elastic stockings that squeeze the veins and stop excess blood from flowing backward. Someone with venous insufficiency may need to wear support hose daily for the rest of their life. Losing weight if one is overweight or maintaining an ideal body weight, along with avoiding long periods of standing and by occasionally elevating your legs, can also help reduce swelling in the legs and ankles. More serious cases of venous insufficiency generally are treated with injections or surgery.

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