What is mmHg?

Many of you have asked what is mmHg or mm Hg (it is written both ways) when we talk about compression hose. “mmHg” stands for millimeters of Mercury. This measurement is the same measurement used to measure your blood pressure as well as the atmospheric pressure. It is the force per unit area exerted by an atmospheric column (that is, the entire body of air above the specified area). When you have a blood pressure reading, such as “120/80 mmHg,” we say it is “120 over 80 millimeters of mercury.” The top number, the systolic reading, measures arterial pressure during the heart’s contraction. The bottom diastolic number assesses arterial pressure when the heart is relaxing between beats, refilling itself with blood. When we talk about compression in garments, is usually expressed as a range, i.e. 20-30 mmHg. That is the range of pressure the garment is capable of exerting at the ankle dependent upon the measurements the fitter takes. Since the compression garments are gradient or graduated, the pressure gets less as it goes up the leg and less as it goes toward the toe.

Compression garments were developed when a person with lower extremity venous insufficiency (a condition  that occurs when the veins in the legs are not working effectively to pump blood from the legs back to the heart) realized that when they went into a body of water such as a swimming pool the increased pressure in the pool relieved the pain and discomfort from the venous condition. The deeper they progressed in the pool, the more relief they felt. From this discovery a very rudimentary wrap developed which reduced the swelling or edema and improved their quality of life.

Through the years, this rudimentary wrap has evolved into the wonderful compression garments we have today. They are available in many different compressions to accommodate the severity of disease. Compression classes
Support hose or support socks fit every lifestyle…from the sheerest, most fashionable stockings, or men’s dress socks to many types of athletic socks for both men and women. The stockings and socks are made of a wide variety of yarns which include nylon, wool, cotton, polyester, acrylic, and Lycra Spandex or Elasthan (Lacra Spandex or Elasthan is the yarn which give the garment its “stretchability”). All are knit in a manner to move the perspiration next to the skin to the outside of the garment so it can evaporate to keep you more comfortable. Many of our clients have several different styles of stockings and socks to fit their myriad lifestyles.

The stockings you wear with compression (mmHg) are not the old “supp hose” your grandmother use to wear. Call one of our Certified Fitters on our toll-free line, 1-844-472-8807, for assistance with the selection of new garments or go to  www.supporthosestore.com

Here is to healthy legs,

Vanda Lancour

A Support Hose Story

One of our very good customers sent us a letter the other day that we would like to share with you.  She expressed what we have been telling our clients for a very long time.  What a difference support hose can make in a person’s life!  ….. Vanda

Untreated Stasis Dermatitis can lead to venous ulcerations

Untreated Stasis Dermatitis can lead to venous ulcerations (from Support Hose Store)

“If I had just one piece of advice to give those who have extreme swelling in the lower limbs, it would be this – wear compression stockings and keep yourself and your loved ones out of wound care!

We always thought my husband had big legs.  Little did we know that his legs were simply swollen from lack of proper circulation.  It took 4 different doctors until we finally found one who took one look at his legs and diagnosed Venous Stasis Dermatitis as the cause for his dryness and swelling.  We didn’t know what this meant.  That doctor suggested my husband wear compression socks to rid his legs of the excess fluids, which, she said, would rid him of his Stasis Dermatitis.  So, to the Internet I went.

What I learned was this – whatever the cause, and there are many – if we did not get the swelling down quickly, we were looking at months of wound debridement and possible infections that would not be easily treated.  We searched and searched for the right compression socks, pharmacies, local health care dealers.  The first socks we bought were a diabetic sock, which is a great sock, but we soon found these did not have the proper compression to help my husband.  Within a few weeks, we noticed a wound that would not heal, just a few inches above his ankle on his left leg.  We were referred to the wound care center.

What followed were several months of compression wrapping and debridement (scraping) of his wound.  Nightly wound dressing and morning re-dressing is what we had in store for us for the next few months.

When we finally found the correct compression hose, 30-40mmHg, and found someone who would properly explain to us how to put them on, we were absolutely shocked to find that after wearing them daily for three weeks, my husband’s legs were not only NOT big, but were almost svelte.

I am a firm believer in these garments!  Almost a year later he has graduated into a lower compression garment, 20-30mmHg, and does not go one day without wearing them.  His overall health has gotten so much better as well.

Wear your stockings!  Don’t just think a water pill will be the only answer!  Compression is necessary because of the way we were all made.  Our valves in our veins are one-way only, and when they do not work properly, we must force them.

Do yourselves a favor – size your stockings correctly, wear the right compression, and do not go a day without them.  You will be surprised at how quickly and effectively compression socks work!

We are so very thankful to the good people at Support Hose Store!  Without them, I shudder to think what would have happened to my husband’s legs!  Thank you Rod and Vanda.”

Differences Between Edema And Lymphedema

In this day and age, everyone is more concerned with their health. They want to understand what their doctor is telling them and want to be informed enough to make good decisions concerning their health care.

When we have swelling in an extremity, it is important to understand the difference in edema and lymphedema. They have very different causes and the treatments; while similar in some circumstances they are entirely different.
What is Lymphedema?Lymphedema Stage II
The lymphatic system is often called our body’s second circulatory system. It collects and filters the interstitial fluid of the body and dumps it into the lymph nodes. Lymphedema occurs when the lymphatic vessels, which collect the lymph (proteins, wastes, water and fats) from cells in your body and carries this to the lymph nodes, are interrupted. The lymph nodes filter out the waste materials and then return the lymph to your blood stream. The system does not work properly when the lymph nodes become damaged or are removed by surgeries. The fluids cannot be drained and build up in the body resulting in swelling in the arms, legs, or the involved body part. Chronic swelling can affect anyone – of any age – and at any point in that individual’s lifetime. This kind of swelling lasts over a period of time and is marked by frequent recurrences. Generally if you have lymphedema you can benefit by seeking the advice of a physical therapist and undergo manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). Your therapist may wrap you in special bandaging, fit you in compression stockings or arm sleeves and teach you special exercises. It is always best to first seek the advice of you physician.

  • Lymphedema is a response which happens when the lymphatic system is impaired (in an area) to the extent that it cannot handle the amount of fluid present.
  • Lymphedema is caused by excess protein-rich lymph which cannot be moved to a lymph node to dump in the circulatory system.
  • Lymphedema is a compromised tissue response to injury with slow healing and /or a infection.
  • Lymphedema is caused by damage to lymphatic system (accident or surgical intervention) or may be congenital. Swelling manifests itself near the damaged area.
  • In early stages a finger pressed into the affected area leaves a temporary indentation. This is pitting edema. In later stages the tissue bounces back with out any indentation.
  • Lymphedema is harmed, not helped by diuretics. Diuretics stimulate the kidneys to remove fluid from the body. In areas affected by lymphedema, tissue fluid is reduced which produces higher levels of protein. This can lead to swelling and hardening of the tissues.

What is edema?Inflammation of the veins with striped reddening and chronic venous insufficiency with swelling and skin discoloration
Edema is the swelling of arms and or legs resulting from the building up of excessive fluids in the tissue. The skin in the affected leg or arm will become stretched and appear shiny. Edema can be caused by prolonged sitting or standing without muscle movements; pregnancy which puts pressure on the vena cava (a major blood vessel that returns blood from the lower extremities back to the heart); an injury or sprain to the arms or legs. To test for edema you press your thumb over the swelled area with a slow pressure. If you see an indentation when you release pressure you should see a doctor to determine why the swelling is occurring. Edema is generally not a permanent issue and can be treated. If you have venous insufficiency resulting in mild edema you should keep your legs elevated and wear compression stockings. Exercise your legs even while sitting or traveling will generally keep your legs from swelling.

  • Edema is a response to an injury such as a sprain as the injury heals, the swelling subsides.
  • Edema is caused by excess tissue fluid which cannot be transported to the circulatory system.
  • Edema can be due to an injury, this will cause excess tissue fluid in an area to aid with the healing process.
  • Edema can be caused by circulatory problems, such as chronic venous insufficiency. This usually occurs in the lower extremities.
  • Both pitting and non-pitting edemas (when a finger pressed into the edema leaves no mark or indentation) can be found.
  • Diuretics can relieve some edemas by stimulating the kidneys to increase the urine output.

Edema resulting from venous insufficiency and lymphedema should not be confused. Untreated venous insufficiency can progress to venous/lymphatic disorder which is treated as lymphedema. If you suffer from either of these diseases and are experiencing swelling in the arms or legs, please contact your Physician. They are always the best source for diagnosis and treatment. Hopefully, by taking care of yourself, the swelling can be controlled, the pain can be treated, and you can get back to your normal life style. If you wear support stockings or compression garments of any type, always remember they are not a quick fix and must be routinely worn to maintain control of the swelling. We have many styles that offer the compression you need and look good at the same time.