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Compression Stockings Part I

Aren't compression stockings for old people?

Many people are under the impression that compression stockings are solely for the elderly. In the past, compression stockings were made primarily in neutral colours such as beige, brown, and black. Due to more recent research which indicates further benefit from compression therapy than just 'old legs', many compression stocking manufacturers have started introducing more vibrant and diverse colours which may appeal to a wider population.

What styles are available?

At MiltonBackDoc, we primarily dispense Bauerfeind brand compression stockings. Bauerfeind has established themselves as a forerunner in the compression industry in terms of quality and custom fit. In their 'micro' and 'business' lines of stocking, they offer 16 sizes! If you are interested in looking at all of their compression stocking options, you can have a look at their website: https://www.bauerfeind.ca/en_ca/products/compression-therapy/

Leg Sleeves

Compression stockings are normally available in three different lengths: knee-high, thigh-high, and pantyhose. There are also “sleeve” options which offer compression through the calf or thigh, without including the foot. While knee-high is by far the most popular, longer stockings may be indicated depending on the medical condition that the stockings are intended to treat.

While Bauerfeind does offer compression stockings in the standard black, beige, and brown, they also offer some styles in bright colours such as pink, green, blue, red, and yellow. They also offer 'fashion' colours which may change from year to year. Some of the dressier styles are also available with patterns such a diamonds, stripes, and 'batik' which is reminiscent of tie-dye.

At MiltonBackDoc, we also work with a few other companies that provide compression stockings, and these may help accommodate cost, fit, and time-frame.

Who can benefit from Compression Stockings?

There are many conditions that compression therapy can effectively treat, and these conditions aren't necessarily limited to a specific population. Check it out:

  • Venous insufficiency: This refers to swelling in the legs due to incompetent veins. Compression stockings help by assisting the circulatory system in returning blood flow to the heart.
  • Vericose veins: Veins contain valves to prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction. When these valves stop working, blood ends up flowing backwards, pools in the legs, and causes the veins to enlarge and bulge. Compression socks can hep to prevent vericose veins from developing. They can also prevent them from worsening, and help with the associated swelling and achy pain in the legs.
  • Lymphedema: While this has multiple possible causes, lymphedema occurs when fluids are not properly absorbed by your lymph system and instead stay in other tissues and cause swelling. Compression garments encourage the movement of these fluids away from the extremities and towards the heart.
  • Post-surgery: It is common to experience residual or persistent swelling after various surgeries, for example stabilization of the ankle. The swelling and associated stiffness and pain can be improved with wearing compression garments.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant patients are more prone to swelling in the lower extremities and may be more prone to developing vericose veins. Compression stockings are able to help prevent both of these symptoms/conditions.
  • Flying: The changes in altitude associated with flying on a plane often cause swelling in the lower extremities and can increase one’s risk of developing a deep vein thrombosis (also known as a blood clot). Wearing compression stockings while flying can help prevent both of these symptoms/conditions.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): Various cardiovascular conditions as well as environmental factors can increase one’s risk of developing a DVT. Compression stockings can help prevent the formation of clots, as well as offer support once a clot has formed.
  • Athletes: Wearing compression socks during exercise has been reported to can help with muscle recovery post-work out.

Who should avoid compression stockings?

With so many conditions that seem to respond well to compression, there are still a few cases where compression stockings may cause complications:

  • Poor arterial blood flow: Anyone with poor arterial blood flow should be cautious when using these items, and they may be completely contra-indicated depending on the condition. If there is poor arterial blood flow, compressing the area may reduce the blood flow further, which could result in tissue death.
  • Allergies: Some people may be allergic to the garment material. Changing to a different brand or type of garment is often sufficient to reduce or eliminate this concern.
  • Sensation deficit: Patients who has severe neuropathy or reduced sensation should not use compression garments over the affected area.
  • Congestive heart failure: This is a contra-indication. If you have congestive heart failure, you should avoid compression garments.
  • Open wounds: Compression garments will irritate or even damage open wounds or areas of fragile skin.

Stay tuned for more info about compression stockings! How they work, how to wear them, how to care for them and how to get them are all coming up in Part II of this blog!

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