If you’ve landed on this blog you might already have an idea of what compression therapy is. But in case you’re not too sure, we’ve created a handy beginner’s guide for you to help you understand what medical compression therapy is and navigate this journey, if it’s for you.
Compression therapy refers to applying an elastic sock or stocking to the limbs (most often the legs) to exert controlled pressure in order to improve blood circulation. This pressure helps reduce swelling, pain and the risk of venous disease. Many individuals can benefit from Medical Compression Stockings (MCS), not just the elderly or those with pre-existing conditions. Pregnant women, frequent travelers, office workers, those who work on their feet all day, and anyone who lives a more sedentary lifestyle are some examples of people who may benefit from medical compression.
Now that you have a basic understanding of compression therapy, you may be wondering, where do I start?
With all the different types of products on the market, it may be a bit overwhelming to know which one to choose. Compared to other types of compression out there, MCS meet rigorous standards and quality controls to ensure their medical benefits and durability over time. In order to achieve this, MCS have a built in pressure gradient that helps counter the effects of gravity, helping circulate blood from the legs back to the heart. The stockings are also sewn with high quality yarns. The end result is a medical grade stocking that helps control leg, ankle and foot swelling and pain, which often results from problems with leg veins and lymphatic vessels.
VENOSAN® offers compression garments in a variety of styles and colors to fit every person’s lifestyle. And for a more comfortable fit, we manufacture garments using double covered technology.
A double covered design prevents bare elastic from touching the skin. Each elastic inlay yarn is wrapped twice with the fine yarns to cover it. This assists in easier donning, allowing the product to glide on and off. Double covered inlay yarns also provide increased comfort and durability, which lead to longer satisfaction and more consistent use.
Depending on the type of yarns used to knit MCS, these garments can also provide other benefits. Various special yarns provide odor control, wick moisture, prevent bacterial growth in the garment, provide hypoallergenic properties, and/or a luxurious feel. A variety of colors, textures and styles make MCS easy to incorporate into your everyday wardrobe.
Another component of MCS is the dosage.
Dosage refers to the amount of graduated compression, or counter-pressure, being produced by the stocking and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Just like dosage matters with prescription medications, the dosage in a medical compression garment is made to help manage specific symptoms of venous and lymphatic dysfunction, such as pain and swelling.
Dosage is measured at the ankle and is provided on the product labelling. Dosage is dependent on the sizing range so it is important to measure the leg girth and match that to the correct MCS size.
Typical compression dosage ranges are
Typically prescribed for advanced venous disease with skin and soft tissue changes such as thickening and discoloration, long term management of a healed Venous Leg Ulcer (VLU), lymphedema and post-thrombotic syndrome
In order to choose the MCS dosage for a particular leg problem, it is important to check the Indications for that garment. These are conditions that the MCS is best suited for. Precautions and Contraindications are listed to indicate under which circumstances MCS should not be used or used only under the close supervision and guidance of a medical professional.
In order to reap the benefits of MCS, it is important to choose a brand manufactured with strict quality controls to guarantee dosage over the course of the day, over months of use and with repeated washings. Additionally, to be fully effective, MCS must fit true to size, and this is contingent on a person’s height and leg shape. VENOSAN products provide that quality and assurance of both dosage and medical benefits.
Another consideration is containment.
Containment refers to how well a medical compression garment is able to keep edema (swelling) from increasing while wearing the product. The underlying cause of the swelling and its severity will affect the level of containment a person needs. It is important to choose a product that can provide higher containment if the edema is more intense. In general, sheer products provide the least amount of containment. Natural fibers, such as cotton, provide higher containment in MCS.
When it comes to choosing the correct size of MCS, it’s important to measure each component of the legs and feet correctly. Proper fit is critical to effective compression and consistent comfort throughout the day. Depending on what product you go with, there are different measurements to take into consideration. For more details on measuring your compression garments, visit our complete guide here.
Once you’ve chosen the product that best suits you, you should know how to properly take care of it.
Most products should last you approximately six months. In order to ensure this longevity, make sure you wear suitable shoes that will not damage the sheer knitted fabric of the stockings, and avoid certain creams, ointments and oils that can ruin your stockings or leave stains. It’s also important to avoid sharp-edged rings, bracelets or watches, as well as sharp or cracked fingernails, when putting your MCS or taking them off. This will help preserve the delicate knit fabric. After six months of use, the medical efficacy of your MCS can no longer be guaranteed. At this point, we recommend you buy new stockings. For step-by-step instructions on how to put on and take off your MCS, view our guide here.
If you’ve made it to the bottom of this page, congrats – you’re a medical compression expert! Should you choose to try compression therapy, we always recommend consulting with your medical professional first to make sure it’s a healthy choice for you and your individual needs. Ready to start shopping? Check out our full product line here.