Compression stockings are heavy elastic stockings that are tighter at your foot and become progressively less constricting as they reach your knee. Their purpose is to put pressure on your leg muscles to help push blood back to your heart. They are often placed on patients in the hospital who are not able to get out of bed. Other times they should be worn every day until you are no longer at risk of blood clots. Aside from the prevention of blood clots, they are used for chronic venous insufficiency, varicose veins, lymphedema and post plebitic syndrome. They are also sometimes worn by diabetics to prevent and heal leg ulcers.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Compression stockings are worn for chronic venous insufficiency, which is the inability of the veins in your leg to pump an adequate amount of blood back to your heart. Your ankles and legs may swell as a result of this condition and the stockings can help reduce the swelling.
Varicose veins are enlarged or swollen from the pressure of being on your feet. They can be painful and may be a sign of other, more serious circulation problems. Compression stockings are worn during the day for this condition.
Lymphedema is the swelling of your arms and/or legs as a result of a blockage that does not allow the lymph fluid to drain properly. Compression stockings should not be worn at night for this condition and you should try to elevate your legs.
Post Phlebitic Syndrome
Post phlebitic syndrome results from blood clots in the leg that have set into the vein and damaged the valves. It causes continual leg swelling and pain. Compression stockings will help to force the blood back to your heart and reduce the swelling.
Prevention of Blood Clots
Blood clots can cause stroke, heart attack and pulmonary embolism, and can be a very serious risk. Compression stockings, particularly following surgery, can prevent them from forming.
Compression stockings are both a treatment and prevention for diabetics from developing venous or arterial ulcers in their lower legs.