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Compression stockings

In contrast to short-term treatment with compression bandages, medical compression stockings are designed for the long-term and permanent treatment of venous problems. They are used when the compression bandages have already relieved congestion. The stockings ensure the therapy results achieved so far and prevent any recurrence.

The leg may therefore not be (any longer) badly swollen because the leg’s circumference under the stocking would be reduced and the stocking would no longer fit. Only a stocking optimally fitted according to the leg measurements of the individual patient can guarantee that treatment will be successful. For this reason compression stockings are best measured by specialist dealers shortly after the patient gets up in the morning. Furthermore, stockings should be put on straight after getting up.
Additionally, to achieve the best possible effect, the compression of the stocking should be based on the individual medical problem and may not be equally high everywhere along the leg. As is the case with the bandage, the pressure of the compression stocking is strongest at the ankle and is reduced upwards in the direction of the heart. Below the knee it may be at most 70% and at the thigh only 40%. This accelerates blood flow to the heart and blood circulation in the leg improves perceptibly. To meet these requirements, stockings are available in a vast range of different sizes and lengths (knee length, semi-thigh, upper thigh, tights etc.)

Compression classes

Medical compression stockings are divided into four different compression classes, differentiated according to the intensity of the resting pressure (the pressure that is applied to the leg when it is not moving). The compression classes are standardized on the basis of this level of resting pressure in the ankle area. However, not only resting pressure is decisive in determining the efficacy of the compression stockings but also the material which can vary in respect of stretchability and elasticity. For this reason there are stockings made of different materials in the different compression classes.

Compression class Compression class Compression in kPa Compression in mmHg
I light 2,4 to 2,8 18 to 21
II medium 3,1 to 4,3 23 to 32
III strong 4,5 to 6,1 34 to 46
IV very strong 6,5 and greater 49 and greater

Who decides?

Which compression class and length the physician in the end decides on to treat his patient must be established on an individual basis. It in essence depends on the diagnostic findings and on the location of the disturbed drainage. A rigid classification of a compression class in response to a diagnosis makes little sense.

In order to ensure the compression stocking fits the patient’s leg, circumference and length must be exactly determined by specialist staff in a surgical supply store. There are measurement points that are precisely defined. For a 43 stocking, for example, there are set measurements. The size tables and leg measurements reveal whether the patient can be supplied with a standard product or whether he requires a made-to-measure version. The specialist dealer will provide the very best advice