Compression Stockings 101

Gradient Compression Support Hose — What are they?
This month we are answering one of our customers most frequently asked questions. If you have questions or comments, please go to our blog Each and every question or comment will be addressed.

To begin, we will discuss diseases, which started your leg or arm problems. Venous diseases start by a feeling of heaviness, a tired feeling in your legs or a discoloration or swelling. Minor pain may be felt. This may be the result of insufficient blood flow back to the heart as blood pools or congests in the legs. When you see warning signs of venous diseases the first step is to see your doctor. But, before you do you may want to become an informed patient. We are supplying you with information and resource links on venous diseases and compression therapy. This newsletter and information provided in the links are not intended to be a substitute for your physician’s medical advice and treatment. Your Doctor is the best source of information on venous diseases. Here is a special list on symptoms you may want to take with you when you see your Doctor:
 Tired legs at night
 Heavy legs at night
 Shoe feels tight at night
 Swollen legs in the morning
 Swollen legs in the afternoon
 Swollen legs at night
 Swelling is gone in the morning
 Leg pain from prolonged sitting
 Dull, aching pain in leg
 Tingling, numbness burning
or cramping in the legs and feet
 Legs “fall asleep” often
 Spider veins
 Varicose veins
 More than one pregnancy (even though
varicose veins, swelling and pain may
disappear after giving birth, problems
may occur later in life)
 Pregnant
 Discoloration of the skin
 Hardened skin on the lower leg
 Patches of dry skin on the lower leg
 Open sores on the lower leg
 Ulcers on the lower leg
 Family history of venous disease
 Diabetes

Varicose Veins: Varicose veins are veins that become visible, primarily in your legs, as enlarged or twisted superficial veins. As your legs move the leg muscles push on the veins which activate tiny valves in your legs to pump the blood back to the heart. The veins become enlarged when the valves fail to work and allow the blood to pool in the legs. Varicose veins are frequently painful, itchy and look unsightly. If left untreated they can lead to much more serious problems. Compression therapy assists in the management of varicose veins by applying a gradient compression to the leg and assisting the muscles in moving blood back to the heart.

Lymphedema: A swelling primarily in the legs and arms resulting from the lymphatic vessels being unable to transport the protein rich lymph fluid back into your circulatory system. You can be born with this problem or it can be the result of injury or surgery. When the lymphatic system is not functional, fluid can build up which results in swelling or thickening of the skin. There is no cure for lymphedema, but it can be managed. The lymphatic drainage system must be opened through MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) therapy. The compression stockings/arm sleeves/gloves can then be used to exert a constant pressure on the affected area to maintain the reduction achieved through MLD therapy. This in turn assists in the drainage of the lymphatic system to minimize the swelling.

Gradient compression: There are several levels of gradient compression support stockings. Gradient compression is measured in millimeters compression mercury. Please note that not all hose are a gradient compression. Gradient compression reduces swelling and helps prevent pooling of blood in the legs, by delivering the highest level of compression at the ankle and gently decreasing up the leg. Improving blood flow helps the wearer experience immediate relief from tired, aching legs. Generally support stockings come in 8-15mmHg, 16-20mmHg, 20-30mmHg, 30-40mmHg and 40-50mmHg.

The symptoms determine the amount of compression, as follows:

  • 8-15 mmHg Compression:
    • Feel good therapy for tired, achy legs
    • Minor ankle, leg and foot swelling
  • 16-20 mmHg Compression:
    • Minor varicosities
    • Minor varicosities during pregnancy
    • Tired, aching legs
    • Minor ankle, leg and foot swelling
    • Post Sclerotherapy
  • 20-30 mmHg Compression:
    • Moderate edema
    • Post Sclerotherapy
    • Help prevent recurrence of ulcerations
    • Post surgical
    • Moderate to severe varicosities
    • Moderate to severe varicosities during pregnancy
  • 30-40 mmHg Compression:
    • Severe varicosities
    • Severe edema
    • Lymphatic edema
    • Post surgical
    • Orthostatic Hypotension
    • Post Sclerotherapy
    • Management of active venous ulcerations
    • Helps to prevent recurrence of venous ulcerations
    • Helps to prevent post-thrombotic syndrome
    • Manage manifestations of PTS (post-thrombotic syndrome)
    • CVD/CVI (Cardio-vascular disease/insufficiency)

At Support Hose Store we carry the four leading manufacturers of gradient compression stockings, Jobst, Medi, Juzo and Sigvaris. All four of these manufacturers have true gradient compression in the stockings.

Compression hose are available in three basis styles, knee-high, thigh-high and waist-high (pantyhose). Your physician will generally advise you which style to purchase. Depending upon where the problem is occurring in your legs will determine which style is best for you. Your comfort and life style will also determine which hose to consider. The support stockings are available in many styles and thickness ranging from sheer to very heavy. Some of the socks are available especially for diabetic foot-wear (well padded, thick stocking). There are socks available as a dress socks, athletic socks, silver socks (anti-odor, antibacterial and anti-fungal to help heal wounds)and even garments with 100% cotton skin contact. Whether you are looking for knee-high, thigh-high or waist-high (pantyhose) we have the hose that is right for you.

When you are experiencing venous insufficiency, edema, or lymphedema it is always best to first consult with your Health Care Provider. If they recommend support stockings please consult with as we are compression garment specialists. We carry all four major manufacturers, Jobst, Mediven, Sigvaris and Juzo, so we know we can fit you in the most appropriate stockings for your medical needs. Our customer service representatives are Certified Fitters and are available to assist you on our toll-free number 1-800-515-4271 . They will attempt to answer any questions you may have.

Thank-you for shopping at,