These stockings are designed to remedy impaired “Musculovenous pump” performance caused by incompetent leg vein valves. They are woven in such a way that the compression level lessens towards the top of the hose.
Doctors will typically recommend these stockings for those who are prone to getting blood clots, edema, and blood pooling in the legs and feet from prolonged periods of sitting or inactivity.
They are worn by those who are ambulatory, however in some cases, they are worn by diabetics whose legs are prone to excessive swelling. Chronic Peripheral Venous Insufficiency caused by incompetent perforator veins is a classic example for prescribing such medical hosiery. This type of compression stocking is non-prescriptive in many places and can be purchased at a pharmacy or medical supply store.
There are several crucial cautionary steps that need to be taken before using compression stocking:
-A patient’s ABI (Ankle Brachial Index) must be >1.0 for both legs to wear compression stockings, otherwise the stockings may obstruct the patient’s arterial flow. The ABI indicates how unobstructed a patient’s leg and arm arteries are. Any competent doctor or nurse can measure and calculate a patient’s ABI.
-It is crucial that compression stockings are properly sized. The compression should gradually reduce from the highest compression at the smallest part of the ankle, until a 70% reduction of pressure just below the knee.
Vascular doctors & nurses may use special pads to insure uniform higher pressure around the circumference of the ankle (to smooth out the irregular cross-sectional profile.)
Self-prescription is reasonably safe assuming that the compression gradient is 15-20 mmHG, the ABI (for both legs) is >1.0 and that the stockings are the proper fit. “Firm” gradient stockings (20-30 mmHG and 30-40 mmHG) should generally be worn only at medical advise.
Although current research reports mixed results of compression socks on athletic performance, anecdotal evidence from athletes have reported to benefit from such stockings.