Your doctor or therapist just told you to buy compression stockings. Now what?
There are 4 main compression levels which are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The higher the numbers, the higher the compression.
If you have heavy, fatigued legs or swollen feet and ankles at the end of a long day of sitting or standing don’t dismiss your discomfort or assume you have to live with it. Ask your Canadian Certified Pedorthist about compression hosiery. Compression hosiery is a highly beneficial medical aid that can ease these uncomfortable symptoms.
Tired, achy legs often result from poor blood flow in the lower limbs. Deep Vein Thrombosis (a blood clot deep in the lower limbs), Chronic Venous Disease (blood pooling caused by failing valves within the veins) and Varicose Veins (enlarged, hardened veins) are the most common conditions causing restricted blood flow. Although blood flow can be restricted for a number of reasons, the most common causes are: hereditary, smoking, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, pregnancy, a long airplane flight, extended bed rest and major surgery. Whatever the cause, compression hosiery can help people of all ages.
Compression hosiery uses strong, graduated elastic to help the blood flow through the veins normally, either pushing the blood away from a site or moving blood from one end of the leg to the other. Although many people wear compression hosiery all day, some people only need to wear it during pregnancy, before, during or after an athletic event or for a long flight. If you need to wear compression hosiery for an extended period of time it may be necessary for you to have multiple pairs of compression hosiery to ensure it provides the medical grade compression you require all the time.
As compression socks and stockings come in a variety of forms and sizes, being sized by a lower limb expert who has compression certification, such as a Canadian Certified Pedorthist, is absolutely essential. Wearing compression hosiery that is too tight can be harmful as it can press on a superior vein or nerve. Depending on the type of compression hosiery you require, your Pedorthist will measure the circumference of your ankle and calf and the length of your lower leg. Some patients also require measurements to be taken of their thigh and waist.
Although compression hosiery is a highly beneficial medical device, it is not appropriate for everyone. If you have congestive heart failure, arterial disease, skin allergies or infections, neuropathy or diabetes ask your doctor if compression hosiery is right for you.
By Steve Stredulinsky, C. Ped (C), Abbotsford, BC
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