How Compression Stockings Work

Compression stockings are tight fitting garments worn on specific parts of the body- most commonly the lower limb.

They help to maintain healthy blood flow and reduce swelling.

When we sit or stand, gravity pulls fluid down towards the bottom of our feet and ankles. Compression garments provide strong compression and force around the ankle to prevent the pooling of fluid.

They use a graduated design that provides less compression around the calf and knee to keep fluid flowing up to the heart. This helps to prevent painful, swollen, and uncomfortable ankles and feet.

Compression stockings are categorised by class, with each class referring to a different level of compression. Classes typically range from one to four. The higher the class, the stronger the compression.

We determine which compression is most appropriate based on the referral we receive or the condition of the patient. In most instances, we will recommend either a class one or class two compression stocking.

Compression stockings & assessments are available at all Orthotics Plus locations.

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Different classes/levels of compression

These are prescribed for vascular conditions, travel, pregnancy and sport where compression is required. There are different classes/levels of compression that range from:

Class 1 (mild compression)

  • Moderate varicose veins/swelling
  • Post-op swelling
  • Varicose veins during pregnancy

Class 2 (moderate compression)

  • Standard medical grade compression
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Severe oedema/venous ulcer
  • Severe varicose veins

Class 3 (high compression)

  • Severe lymphedema
  • Pronounced oedema
  • Chronic venous insufficiency
  • Severe leg ulcers

Compression stockings can be open or closed toe, above knee or below knee, pantyhose or chaps. There are also a variety of colours which are available. Custom made stockings may also be appropriate for unusual shaped limbs. This can be determined by our clinicians at Orthotics Plus.

Who Compression Stockings May Be Appropriate For

Compression stockings are typically considered by people with circulatory issues, heart conditions, fluid retention issues, and lymphedema.

They may also be helpful during pregnancy and can be worn during long flights to help retain circulation and prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Clinicians may also recommend compression garments to control swelling following an injury or operation.

Types Available at Orthotics Plus

We offer one primary brand of compression stockings: Venosan. Their garments are available in a range of compression levels, colors, heights, and sizes.

If a patient doesn’t fit into one of the standard stockings, we can discuss custom-made options.

We recommend that patients come in to be measured for compression stockings to ensure an accurate fit. This gives our team the opportunity to offer advice on how to use the garments and discuss the holistic nature of the situation.

Patients may find that the stockings are tight and difficult to wear initially, which is an important consideration.

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Generally, compression stockings are used in isolation and are rarely accompanied by other equipment or Orthoses.

One contrary, however, is when treating post-op/post-injury patients. In these cases, the patient may use a CAM walker for an ankle injury or post-ankle ORIF. We can then fit compression stockings underneath the walker to help with circulation.