There are many types of compression socks, and they also provide different compression for people with different conditions. It is important that you know how much pressure your socks will put into your legs for maximum health benefits. Finding the right level of compression for your feet will also help you to feel relief and comfort. It will avoid any side effects that may occur if you wear the wrong compression socks.
Choosing the right compression level or pressure gradient
When you buy compression socks, it will indicate the “mmHg” which also stands for millimeters of mercury and is used to measure pressure, and it is also for blood pressure measurements. This measurement helps to indicate the amount of pressure that you will feel while wearing compression socks. Here are the different compression levels and who should wear them.
- Mild compression – These socks have 8-15 mmHg and give minimal pressure in the compression socks. They are a great option to relieve the aches and pains from your tired legs. It is also useful for people who are at work that stand or sit for long periods of time. These compression socks are great for helping to relieve minor swelling around your legs, ankle, and feet from stasis and overactivity. In pregnancy, they help prevent varicose veins.
- Medium compression – These socks have 15-20 mmHg, and these are recommended for first-time wearers to try this compression level first. These are great if you are looking for relief from heavy, swollen, or tired legs. It is available over-the-counter, so you won’t have a hard time if you need compression socks for travel, long days spent standing, to treat mild to moderate varicose veins, and to gain relief from the post-exercise symptoms of athletics.
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- Firm compression – These socks have 20-30mmHg, and they are the ones that are commonly used. It gives good compression around your legs without letting you feel uncomfortable. These compression socks are great for leg swelling, spider veins, varicose veins, travel, athletics, and for some surgeries (if a doctor recommends you to wear compression socks after surgery to avoid blood from pooling). This level of compression socks is also beneficial for pregnant mothers with prominent vein issues. These socks can also assist the management of active ulcers and post-thrombotic syndrome, and it also helps orthostatic hypotension and assist in the prevention of DVT. Lastly, these socks are great for treating moderate to severe edema.
- Extra firm compression – These socks have 30-40mmHg and relieve and prevent severe cases of varicose veins and also severe edema. They are useful for orthostatic hypotension, postural hypotension, and the management of venous ulcers. These types of compression socks also help to give relief from Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS) and prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT). They are effective for post-surgical patients who have undergone treatment to prevent the recurrence of varicose veins.
- Rx compression – In serious venous disease, 40-50mmHg gradient compression socks are in need. They are useful in preventing acute swelling of the legs and ankles, varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, and chronic vein insufficiency. The “Rx” implies that this compression level is prescribed by a physician.