Note: This page accompanies pages written on the subject of the inherited
disorders Factor V Leiden and Activated Protein C and Activated Protein S. Other
might find the information useful also. This article was written by a patient with the
Leiden gene mutation and Activated Protein C resistance which are major causes to
What are Compression Stockings?
Compression stockings or compression hosiery are a type of special support stockings for
your leg. The hosiery is available for
men and women in a variety of styles and colors. You usually buy one stocking at a time,
they're expensive. Many times
insurance will cover the cost if your doctor has written a prescription for the stocking.
These stockings are not the same as the
support hosiery you often see advertised.
Compression stockings are fitted to your leg which means you will be measured for them.
Your doctor will indicate the
compression ratio he feels you need.
With these compression stockings, the most compression is in the foot and the compression
lessens as it goes up the leg. This
means that the stocking is going to be very tight around your foot but it gets looser as
it goes up your leg.
What do Compression Stockings Do?
Compression stockings prevent swelling. They provide comfort - there is less pain. They
promote circulation of blood in your
limbs. They prevent some of the problems associated with poor circulation, such as leg
ulcers. They prevent blood clots from
developing in your leg. They prevent the creation of problems associated with thrombosis
disorders such as varicose veins.
Ace bandage-style wraps are not suitable as a compression hosiery substitute. From
personal experience I can tell you that you
will have a lot of problems from doing that. You are better to go without any stocking
than to wrap it.
Before 1990 compression stockings were standard. They were used for prevention and
treatment. Today, there is some
question on the effectiveness of compression hosiery. The same doctor who had prescribed
compression hose in 1990 now, in
1996, did not recommend it for me.
Personally, I think compression hosiery is needed at certain times, but most of the time I
found it to cause too many problems
particularly with buckling. I think the patient should be given the opportunity to try
them to see what comfort can be obtained,
but if they are ineffective, discontinue them. In 1996 I had the fastest recovery ever and
without compression stockings.
With compression hosiery the activity of the patient should be considered. If the patient
will be sitting with the limb properly
elevated, they could be eliminated. If the patient is uncomfortable at menses, let her
wear the hosiery (it does relieve the pain a
great deal during menstruation).
For myself, the style of compression hosiery made a big difference. Knee highs were a big
problem although I used them the
most because they were cooler. After a while I learned to turn the band down carefully so
as not to form a tourniquet. The
band was turned down only when sitting to avoid the band cutting off circulation at the
knee. Thigh high's that were held up
solely by the hemmed top were useless. They fell and buckled frequently, and every 10
minutes I was hiking them back into
place. With these thigh high's I had to be very careful when sitting as the band would
move and force itself to crease a spot in
The thigh-high compression stocking with an attached belt was definitely the most
comfortable but I was very annoyed to unhitch and
rehitch upon using the bathroom. Although they were superior to thigh-high's with a hemmed
band, the inner portion of the
stocking had a tendency to cut into my thigh when sitting.
Note: you must not wrap ace-type bandages around the affected limb. The
compression is uneven and will
make matters worse.
A stocking may be required on only one leg or both.
Stockings come in two colors - flesh and black (at least in our area only two color
choices are available).
Compression stockings are prescribed under prescription (most times) by your physician.
Your doctor will indicate the
desired compression ratio. Compression varies along the length of the stocking. The most
compression is lower on the
stocking. The compression decreases as it goes up the leg.
Compression stockings are superior to over-the-counter elastic support stockings.
You will need to be fitted for the stocking. The pharmacy staff will take measurements of
various parts of your leg and
Compression stockings come in closed toe or open toe styles. During hot weather open-toe
are cooler but the hem may
become too tight after wearing for a period of time.
If you find your toes swelling up below the compression stocking, take the stocking off
and report this to your doctor.
Compression stockings come in various lengths. The compression stockings that enclose the
entire leg can be purchased
with a waist belt. I personally like the style with the belt because it helps keep the
stocking from sliding down the leg. It is
more comfortable because there isn't a hem.
Using Compression Hose
Do not sleep overnight with any type of support hosiery or compression stocking on.
Put them on before you get out of bed in the morning. Don't use the bathroom and return to
bed to put on the stocking,
put the stock on before going to the bathroom. Do not dangle your legs over the bed to put
If you have been up for a while and decide to put on a stocking, you must lay with your
feet elevated above heart level
for at least 20 minutes (in an attempt to drain blood and fluid) prior to putting the
stocking on. Putting the stock on the
first thing in the morning is the best, but some people won't listen, so if you
must.........If any part of your leg or foot is swelling below the lowest point of the stocking, remove
the stocking. This means that if
your toes are swelling quite a bit, take the stocking off.
If you find the stocking texture uncomfortable or irritating, try wearing it inside out.
Don't put on socks or leggings first then cover it with the compression stocking, it
If the stocking is irritating your skin, change washing detergents (or use shampoo or
liquid dish washing detergent) and
make sure to rinse thoroughly.
Wash stocking by hand (I've had mine develop runs or almost disintegrate in a washing
machine even with using the small item basket, gentle agitation and cool water)
All stockings have a tendency to ride down because of gravity and body movement. Watch
carefully for folds, buckling
and so on. You can cut off your circulation by improperly worn stockings.
Hosiery can buckle behind the knee when you sit. Knee-high hosiery is particularly bad at
doing this. You must avoid
this because it acts as a tourniquet.
Simple solutions include folding the top hem down until, at minimum, a two inch band is
If you are using a knee high stocking change to thigh-high stocking. The thigh high
stocking has less tendency to buckle
behind the knee.
Thigh-high stockings, either with or without the belt, will also buckle, so remember to
keep pulling them up.
Watch for buckling around the ankle. Keep pulling the stocking up so there are no folds or
Don't wash the stocking in the washing machine, hand wash in cool water with an extremely
mild detergent, air dry.
That shiny piece of fabric that came with your new stocking, which usually is shaped like
a snow- cone holder, is used to
aid in getting the stocking over your toes. Put the fabric over your toes, then put the
stocking on (this only works well
with toe-less stockings). If you use this shiny fabric under a full-toed stocking, it will
be stuck there, you can't get it out.
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been developed over searches on the internet. We are not in any way responsible
for, or endorse, information on other web sites, it is here for public
information. Your doctor is the best source of leg health information and
treatment. We hope you find this information helpful. This article has been
provided courtesy of Ames Walker Hosiery (ameswalker.com) and may be reproduced
for personal use provided no part of this article (including the text contents)
has been changed. Copyright ©
2003 Ames Walker International Inc.
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