What Does mmHg compression mean?

So your doctor or health care provider has recommended you to wear compression stockings or socks. They may have mentioned knee-high, thigh-high or waist-high (pantyhose) and may also have suggested the compression which would be more appropriate for you to purchase or even a particular brand of stockings.  (Some physician do have their favorites.)

Generally speaking support stockings come in three medical compressions: 15-20mmHg, 20-30mmHg and 30-40mmHg. Compression is expressed in mmHg (millimeters of Mercury) just the same as barometric pressure. Compression is the average pressure exerted at the ankle and lessens as you go down the leg towards the toes, and lessens as you go up the leg toward the heart. If you are wearing a 15-20mmHg compression, you are getting between 15-20mmHg compression. For example, if you are in a Jobst size medium and your ankle circumference is around 8 3/8 inches, then you are receiving 15mmHg of compression, or if your ankle measurement is around 9 7/8 inches, then you are getting 20mmHg of compression. This is the principle behind “gradient compression”.

The recommended compression is associated with the problem or problems you are having with your legs. The 15-20mmHg is recommended for tired, achy legs, mild swelling or mild varicose veins /spider veins. The 20-30mmHg is recommended for moderate to severe lymphedema/edema (swelling), moderate varicose veins. The 30-40mmHg is recommended for severe lymphedema/edema (swelling), severe varicose veins, redness or discoloration of the skin.

What causes these leg diseases?

Most leg problems are caused by age, obesity, sedate lifestyle, standing or sitting for long periods of time, past surgeries, pregnancy, or heredity. You must remember the heart is a one-way pump. The heart pumps blood from the heart through the arteries to the various parts of the body. The veins return the blood to the heart to be re-oxygenated. The veins have little one way valves that work with the muscular system to pump the blood back to the heart. Many things can happen that interrupts this blood flow and venous disease is many times the result. Fortunately, the compression provided by your support stockings or socks assists the muscles and veins to pump the blood back to the heart. The stockings and socks help the valves in the veins to close and help eliminate the pooling of the blood in the lower extremities and thus help the varicose veins from getting worse and help to eliminate the leg pain and swelling.

So, how do you get these compression stockings on?

It is important that you follow steps in donning (putting on) stockings. It makes it so much easier.

For those of you who wish to view a video on donning please go to Secrets of the Best Fitters on our blog, AskVanda.com

Remember, being compliant with wearing your Jobst, Mediven, Sigvaris, or Juzo compression stockings and support socks is the key to keeping your legs and body healthy. Thank you for shopping with Support Hose Plus.


Contact us at customerservice@supporthoseplus.com or on or toll free number 1-844-472-8807

6 Responses

  1. I do need support tights, but I want to make sure that they cover my existing varicose veins as well as preventing deterioration. I cannot see any denier information on any of the brands of tights I have seen advertised. Can you help?

    • Hi Mary, Compression stockings are not measured in Denier. They are measured in mmHg. That is millimeters of mercury (as in atmospheric pressure) exerted at the ankle. If you will call one of our Certified Fitters, they will guide you to stockings which will cover you varicose veins. Thanks!

  2. I require 50-60 mmhg stockings. May I order through you?

  3. So what you are saying is; when my leg swells it is filling up with blood?

    • Hello Bud,
      What happens is the circulation of the blood is impaired. The circulatory system cannot get all of the cellular byproducts and blood back to the heart. Usually the valves in the legs have been damaged and do not close completely. Therefore there is leakage back into the lower part of the leg.

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