Have you ever heard of compression hose? Your mind may immediately go to the thick, unattractive and obvious garments your grandparents might have worn. The good news is that compression hose have come a long way. These are not your grandma’s hose! They are no longer bright white, resembling part of a nurse’s uniform. Today’s hose garments come in numerous colors to coordinate with your clothing or blend with your natural skin tone. There are also different sizes and styles, for every body type/shape and just about everybody part—including exercise “sleeves.”
Compression hose help defy gravity
Modern improvements to compression garments are a great thing because it makes wearing them more comfortable and convenient than ever before. And wearing our compression garments is so important because they help us fight gravity. We all feel the effects of gravity whether we notice it or not. Our legs swell to a small degree when we are upright. This swelling is much worse for someone suffering from venous disease because their blood is not moving through their body in the correct manner.
After we get up in the morning, we are either standing or sitting for most of the day. The venous blood has to move upward, against gravity, to get back to the heart. People who experience venous insufficiency have trouble with the blood pooling in their legs instead of moving upward, causing swelling, pain, itching, and other issues. Compression hose fight gravity by squeezing and compressing the superficial veins with the highest compression at the ankle and lessening as it moves up the leg.
Size matters – a LOT!
When worn correctly, graduated compression hose are tightest at the ankle and less tight as they move up the leg, so it is of utmost importance that the hose be properly sized. Unfortunately, some places that supply hose, such as Amazon or Walmart, measure the hose based on a person’s shoe size. This is an inadequate method of measuring for hose as two people that both wear a size 11 shoe are likely to have completely different leg lengths and calf widths. Shoe size is no indicator of the size of the rest of your body or its shape.
The proper way to measure and fit hose is to measure the narrowest point at the ankle, the widest point of the calf and length from the floor to the upper calf (for knee high hose). Hose that are properly measured and fitted should make your legs feel better, not worse. It is important to note that compression hose should never be rolled down or folded back on themselves as this effectively puts a tourniquet on your leg and makes swelling worse.
Get the right fit from a trained pro
At The Vein Institute, we recommend that you should make sure you purchase hose from someone who knows compression hose very well, and is familiar with how to properly measure and fit them. Our staff are knowledgeable and fit patients for hose on a daily basis. We are happy to work with you to meet your needs.
Prescription hose are 20-30mm in strength, so prior to placing someone in prescription hose, adequate arterial inflow needs to be confirmed by either physical exam or vascular testing with a doppler probe or ultrasound. Placing someone in prescription strength hose with poor arterial flow could compromise blood flow to the lower extremities and can cause your leg(s) to become ischemic. We can’t stress enough how important it is to have your hose fitted by a professional for this reason.
If you’d like to learn more about compression hose, or any aspect of venous disease, please call The Vein Institute at 423-680- 6512. We are happy to answer any questions you might have. You can also schedule a consultation to be fitted for compression hose.