Try Compression Stockings to relieve painful legs
This article about compression stockings was written by Lisa Alexander is a certified medical assistant.
If your legs frequently feel painful, achy or swollen, then it is worth trying compression stockings to relieve your symptoms. If this suggestion sounds unpleasant, then you may have an outdated notion of what compression stockings are, and might not realize how effective they can be in vein treatment. To help clear up common misperceptions and concerns, I’ve answered some questions about compression stockings patients often ask me when they come to Artemis.
How do compression stockings work?
The stockings improve circulation by supporting the veins and making it easier for them to return blood to the heart. This prevents blood from pooling in the legs and weakening the veins over time, and alleviates symptoms of venous disease such as fatigue, swelling and pain.
Can compression stockings reverse venous disease?
If a person is already in the early stages of venous disease, the stockings will not reverse the condition. They will, however, slow the progression of the disease and help relieve some of the resulting symptoms.
I don’t want to wear compression stockings because of how they look.
Many people assume compression stockings are unattractive. This might have been true in the past, but it’s no longer the case! Today most compression stockings look just like regular socks or other hosiery and come in a variety of colors, patterns, and styles. People probably won’t even notice you’re wearing them. We can help you find the type that best fits your needs and lifestyle.
I’m too young to wear compression stockings!
Another misconception is that compression stockings are only worn by “older” patients, but that’s simply not true. If someone is taking a long flight, or if they have a job where they have to sit or stand for long periods of time, the stockings can help prevent the swelling and discomfort that often results. Even athletes wear compression stockings to increase circulation when they train.
Is it painful to wear compression stockings?
The word “compression” makes them sound uncomfortable, but really they are a pain-free strategy for improving circulation and preparing for vein treatment. We make sure to find the proper fit, and can always make adjustments in the rare case that it’s necessary. It’s good to know, however, that the stockings can sometimes feel a little warm in the summer. That’s one reason trying out the stockings in the cooler fall or winter months is a good idea.
If someone wanted to try compression stockings without first consulting with a vein specialist, what is a safe pressure to start with?
Generally, a person will be fine wearing stockings that are 15-20 mmHg, but we recommend that anyone considering stockings consult first with their personal physician or a vein expert. A medical professional will help ensure that you get the correct pressure and fit.
Do you recommend compression stockings to all of your patients?
Yes, and in fact, every patient that comes to Artemis for vein treatment is first fitted for compression stockings before we proceed with ultrasound mapping. In addition, insurance companies require patients to first go through a trial of wearing compression stockings before the patient receives further treatment.
Do you wear compression stockings?
Yes! When I know that I’ll be on my feet at work for most of the day I make sure to put them on. If I leave home without them I really notice a difference in how tired my legs feel. It helps me remember next time!
How do you find the right fit?
I carefully take measurements at the ankle, calf and thigh. Then, patients put them on to get a feel for them, and we address any questions or concerns they have. People tell me that they feel a little “funny” at first, but soon it feels normal.
What do patients say after they’ve tried compression stockings for several months?
Most of our patients comment on how much better their legs feel while wearing the stockings, and many are surprised that they make such a difference. It’s always satisfying to know that this small intervention has made a positive difference for them. After completing venous disease treatment, we ask patients to wear the stockings again for a short time, and many continue using them because they are so beneficial.
What are your top tips for patients wearing the stockings for the first time?
My top tip is to be patient when first getting used to them. I also recommend that anyone wearing the stockings make sure to give us a call if they have any questions. I’m always very happy to hear from our patients and to help.
If you’re considering trying compression stockings, remember that doing so could serve a dual purpose. Not only are they a great strategy for relieving discomfort, but the first step in the treatment process is a three-month compression stocking trial. So, you’d be wearing them anyway! We ask patients to complete this trial because we prioritize the least-invasive approach before considering other options.
If you have other questions about compression stockings, please give us a call. We are glad to discuss any symptoms like leg pain, fatigue and swelling over the phone, and will schedule an appointment if you decide you are interested in discussing treatment options. Read more about vein treatments here.